Sunday, February 10, 2013

Alvin Plantinga's Modal Ontological Argument - Made Simple

Way back when I was just a wee lad in my twenties, I read an anthology edited by Alvin Plantinga on The Ontological Argument. It had selections from all the versions of the argument, beginning with St. Anselm up to the 60s. I remember that Plantinga offered a refutation of the final selection (I think it was Norman Malcolm's). So I figured that pretty much closed the book on that argument. Then years later I heard a rumour that Plantinga had come up with his own version of the argument. I had the honor and pleasure of meeting Professor Plantinga, back in 2001. He confirmed that he had changed his mind and decided there was something to the argument and provided his own version in his book, The Nature of Necessity. I asked if he thought I would be able to understand the book, and he said, "No."   I took his word for it and never tried to read it. So to my delight, somebody on youtube has offered a simplified version of his argument. I don't know if the argument has or will persuade anyone, but at least I can say I understand it, now.


JDB said...

Shalom, Bilbo. There is also a brief, nearly comprehensible discussion of it on atheist philosopher Graham Oppy's SEP article on ontological arguments:

Also, and I'm surprised Plantinga didn't mention this, another of Plantinga's books, God, Freedom, and Evil, closes with a presentation of the argument purportedly simpler than the version in The Nature of Necessity. I say "purportedly", because I haven't read The Nature of Necessity. The simpler book also contains a nice statement of his free will defense against the problem of evil.

Bilbo said...

Thanks, JDB. I don't care what anyone says about you, you're alright.