Saturday, August 7, 2010

Plantinga responds to me

I've written a lot about the ontological argument, going through its internal details (as opposed to the typical atheist response, which is to dismiss it from the top).  I've found that the ontological argument is one of those topics which attracts dedicated commenters who disagree with me.  But that's okay, because I feel confident about defending my position on the Ontological argument.

It has happened again.  I had a long discussion with blogger Metacrock about the modal ontological argument.  At one point, Metacrock e-mailed Alvin Plantinga to get his response "just for grins".  Plantinga responded, though I don't think his response clears anything up.

I just thought I'd let you know about it.   If you want to read the discussion, follow the links.

I confess to being slightly starstruck at getting a response from Plantinga.  He's a very famous philosopher!  I mean, I may not like any of his philosophical positions, but... yeah...


Larry Hamelin said...

Plantinga: As for the parallel postulate, it might very well be necessary in the broadly logical sense

Howls of derisive laughter, Bruce! Al apparently hasn't heard of Riemann, Lobachevsky, or Einstein.

The "broadly logical sense" business is total flim-flam. If a maximally excellent being is one that has maximal greatness in all possible worlds, then "there exists a being that is ME" is a modal proposition, and true or false in all possible worlds. Plantinga knows he doesn't even have to hide his fallacy to slip it by philosophers.

That Plantinga is a famous philosopher says a lot more about philosophy than it does about Plantinga.

miller said...

Oh, how did I miss that one? The parallel postulate is not necessary in any sense I can think of. There are all sorts of non-euclidean geometries in which the parallel postulate is false.

Larry Hamelin said...

The dangers of being star-struck. :p

One really must, I think, look at everything with the bias that the author is a complete idiot; only when he or she has forcefully persuaded you otherwise should you relax, even a little.

Larry Hamelin said...

Not only is the parallel postulate false in many geometries, geometries with an alternative parallel postulate are actually better for this possible world.

Plantinga really is a complete idiot.

Rick Taylor said...

Wow, Congrats on getting a response from Plantinga! I only just found this thread.

No, Plantinga is not a complete idiot, and what he says does actually make sense, and can actually be used to see why the ontological argument is not the proof of God so many people seem to think it is.

To understand him, you have to give up the idea that you already understand what the phrase "broadly logically" means. Think if it as an undefined term he's explaining. In particular, that word "broadly" is in there for a reason; he's not talking about logical necessity or possibility, he's talking about something else. Personally I think the term "broadly logically" is terribly misleading here because people think they already know what that is; he ought to use "metaphysically" instead, but that is the only thing I would criticize him for here.

miller said...

I think Plantinga's response fails to actually respond, likely because he was too rushed to read me carefully.

The first thing he does is reject my definition of "logically consistent" and substitute his own. (I defined it as implying no contradiction, he defined it as being impossible to deduce a contradiction.) Plantinga's version of "logically consistent" bears more similarity to my concept of "self-consistency". It is not a sufficiently strong premise for the ontological argument.

And then he has the undefined term, "broadly logical". All we know about it is not identical to Plantinga's "logical consistency" and that Plantinga claims it is a sufficiently strong premise for the ontological argument.

It sort of sounds like Plantinga is agreeing with my argument, but I'm not sure.