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2009 The Authors Journal compilation 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd Ratio (new series) XXII 3 September 2009

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A MODEST MODAL ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT Jason L. Megill and Joshua M. Mitchell

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Abstract We formulate a new modal ontological argument; specically, we show that there is a possible world in which an entity that has at least the property of omnipotence exists. Then we argue that if such an entity is possible, it is necessary as well.

I. Modal ontological arguments generally have the following form: (1) If God possibly exists, God necessarily exists. (2) God possibly exists, therefore, (3) God necessarily exists. However, it is possible for an atheist to deny either premise. An atheist can deny (1) by claiming that even if God exists in at least one possible world, God exists only contingently, and so might fail to exist in the actual world. An atheist can deny (2) by claiming that God is logically impossible, and therefore exists in no possible worlds. It is clear that if (1) and (2) are true, God exists, so the atheist must deny at least one of these claims.1 We offer a new modal ontological argument that attempts to give novel justication for (1) and attempts to derive step (2) from certain plausible metaphysical claims. Admittedly, many theists will be unsatised with the argument: we work with a much sparser conception of God than that found in some traditional arguments and in classical theism in general, which is why we call the argument modest. Nevertheless, the argument does improve

1 For discussion of ontological arguments, see Graham Oppy, Ontological Arguments and Belief in God (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995), and Arguing about Gods (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006). For previous modal ontological arguments, see, e.g., Norman Malcolm, Anselms Ontological Arguments, Philosophical Review, 69 (1960), 4162; see also Alvin Plantinga, The Nature of Necessity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974). Often, particular modal ontological arguments have steps aside from the two discussed; but all of them share these two steps.

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upon previous arguments in certain respects, and given the importance of the topic, this by itself seems a worthwhile project. II. In this section, we argue that God is possible. The rst step is: (1) For any entity x, if there is at least one world w where the presence of x would not generate a contradiction, and there is nothing else that is contradictory about w, then x is logically possible.2 To offer an example, suppose that a given chair does not exist in the actual world. Further, the presence of this chair in the actual world would not generate a contradiction. If so, then it seems there is a possible world that is just like the actual world in all respects except that it contains this chair, i.e., this chair possibly exists. To offer a different example, suppose there is a putative possible world that contains only a large sphere (to borrow a much discussed example from metaphysics).3 If the presence of this sphere in this world does not generate a contradiction, and there is nothing else that is contradictory about this world, then this sphere possibly exists (and this world is in fact possible). There are several good reasons to endorse this premise. First, the premise is arguably unproblematic. It is unproblematic, if, as seems plausible, there is a close connection between consistency and logical possibility. That is, if what is consistent is logically possible, then (1) is obviously true.4 And indeed, many do think

2 Note that throughout, we are concerned with all logically possible worlds, and not merely with, e.g., all nomologically possible worlds. Also, we speak of entities that exist in other possible worlds as if they concretely exist, so it might appear that the argument presupposes some form of modal realism (for modal realism, see David Lewis, On the Plurality of Worlds (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986)). This is not the case, however; we speak in such a manner only for the sake of convenience. As will become clear once the argument is formulated, if some form of ersatzism is true, the argument can succeed nevertheless (one simply needs to replace talk of entities with talk of something else, say, the truth of various propositions). Also note that there is no place in our argument where we appeal to the notion of conceivability to determine what is possible. Saying that something is logically possible because it is consistent is very different than saying that something is possible because it is conceivable. 3 See Max Black, The Identity of Indiscernibles, Mind, 61 (1962), 15364. 4 (1) basically states that if a world w is consistent, and if the presence of x in w would not generate a contradiction, then x can consistently exist in a world and so is logically possible, i.e., consistency entails logical possibility. The claim that consistency entails logical possibility is commonplace; e.g., we think that each row of a given truth table corresponds to a possible state of affairs except for the contradictory row, i.e., the row that

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this: On a standard sort of characterization, P is logically possible just in case no contradiction can be proved from P using the standard rules of deductive inference . . .5 Second, a denial of this premise would arbitrarily limit the scope of possible worlds. For example, if the presence of a given chair in the actual world would not generate a contradiction, then it seems terribly ad hoc to deny that the chair could have possibly existed. Third, consider a chair that exists in the actual world. Certainly this chair only contingently exists; it would be absurd to claim that a chair necessarily exists. But then it appears there is a world w that is just like our world except it lacks this chair. But if someone denied (1), then given only knowledge of w, they might claim that even though the chairs existence would not generate a contradiction, it does not possibly exist. But we know the chair exists in the actual world, and since what is actual is possible, the chair possibly exists. The point is this: we know that (1) is true for an extremely large number of cases, namely, for any contingently existing entity in the actual world. Fourth, if one denies the premise, one is essentially claiming that even though the presence of something would not generate a contradiction (in at least one world), that something could not possibly exist. But if one claims that something is logically impossible, then arguably the burden of proof lies with them.6 Logical possibility is so broad and encompassing, and so very many things are logically possible, if one denies that something is logically possible, an explanation is needed. Step (2) is: (2) For any x, if the presence of x in a world w generates a contradiction, then either (a) x is self-contradictory or (b) x, when combined with the presence of some other entity (or combination of entities) y in w, generates a contradiction.
contains only Fs. One might object that it is not a contradiction that water could be H30, but some have shown that it is not logically possible that water could be H30 (see, e.g., Saul Kripke, Naming and Necessity (Boston: Basil Blackwell, 1972)). In this case, the relationship between consistency and logical possibility breaks down, and (1) is false. It seems to us, however, that saying that water could be H30 is in fact contradictory, and is akin to saying, for example, that a bachelor could be a married male. After all, if it is logically impossible for water to be H30, then it is a contradiction to claim that something is both water and H30. 5 Tamar Szabo-Gendler and John Hawthorne (Eds.), Conceivability and Possibility (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002). 6 See David Chalmers, The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), 96.
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This step seems obvious. Indeed, the presence of an entity in a given possible world can generate a contradiction in only two ways: by contradicting itself or something else (or both, we suppose). This is not a false dichotomy; there simply are no other options. In any event, if an opponent claims there is another option, the burden of proof lies with them. If one accuses someone of positing a false dichotomy, then it seems they must produce the missing disjunct. Step (3) is: (3) There is at least one world w where God is not selfcontradictory and contradicts nothing else. Unlike the rst two steps, (3) is far from obvious. We rst show that God, or at least the conception of God used here, is not self-contradictory, before showing that there is at least one world where God does not contradict anything else. It appears that if an entity is self-contradictory, the entity must have two properties, A and B, that contradict one another, i.e., a self-contradictory entity has (or would have) two properties that cannot possibly coexist in one entity, at least at the same time. For example, a square triangle is self-contradictory because it has the property of having three sides and the property of having four sides, and these two properties contradict one another; they cannot consistently coexist in or be instantiated by the same entity at time t. So, does God have two properties, A and B, that are not compossible? Classical theism typically attributes at least three properties to God: omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence. One strategy for showing that God is not self-contradictory would be to demonstrate that these three properties do not entail a contradiction.7 Of course, many have claimed that the combination of these properties in a single entity does entail a contradiction. For example, if God is omnipotent, God can do anything, but if God is omnibenevolent, God cannot commit evil acts: a contradiction.8 While theists have, of course, offered responses to such objections, we will not take a stand on this issue here. Frankly, we do not
7 Others have attributed further properties to God. However, we will not discuss what other properties God might or might not have. 8 Although we do not know where this argument about the incompatibility of omnipotence and omnibenevolence originates, it can be found in Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae (New York: Benziger Brothers, thirteenth century/1948).

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know if the traditional conception of God is consistent or not. Rather, we try an alternative strategy. This strategy posits a sparser conception of God in the hope that we can more effectively demonstrate Gods existence. That is, we set aside the traditional conception of God in favor of a more modest conception (yet, although this conception is more modest, it still retains a large degree of theological interest). To explain, one can, for example, view God as having the property of omnipotence plus a set of other properties S that, when combined with omnipotence, does not generate a contradiction (so, S is not contradictory itself and the union of S with omnipotence is not contradictory either).9 S might be an empty set or it might contain an innite number of properties or its cardinality might be in between these two extremes; we need not take a stand on this issue here. The important point is that this strategy makes it true by denition that God is not self-contradictory, since it prohibits from the outset worlds in which God has contradictory properties. Even though many theists have a more robust conception of God, this seems a reasonable place to start.10 In short, we know that this conception of God is internally consistent, at least. The second way the presence of an entity x might generate a contradiction in a possible world w is that x, when combined with some other y in w, generates a contradiction. Indeed, one need not venture outside of philosophy of religion to nd an example; arguably, the atheistic argument from evil can be interpreted as positing just such a contradiction. On one possible reading, the
9 Admittedly, omnipotence is itself a problematic concept; see, e.g., Joshua Hoffman and Gary S. Rosenkrantz, The Divine Attributes (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002). In the interest of simplicity, and to sidestep as many controversies as possible, we dene omnipotence as the ability to do anything that is logically possible, or the ability to bring about any logically possible state of affairs. For this now common view, see Rosenkrantz and Hoffman, What An Omnipotent Agent Can Do, International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 11 (1980), 119; see also Thomas P. Flint and Alfred J. Freddoso, Maximal Power, in The Existence and Nature of God (Notre Dame, Indiana: The University of Notre Dame Press, 1983). Also see Edward Wierenga, The Nature of God: An Inquiry Into Divine Attributes (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press). Most now concede, against Descartes, but in agreement with Aquinas and Maimonides, that God cannot do the logically impossible. For Descartess view, see Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy in The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, Volume 2 (translated by John Cottingham, Robert Stoothoff, and Dugald Murdoch) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1641/1984). For Aquinass view, see Aquinas, Summa Theologiae. See also Maimonides, Guide for the Perplexed (translated by M. Friedlander) (London: George Routledge and Sons, twelfth century/1904). 10 Perhaps we are being too critical of our argument on this issue. After all, there are arguments for Gods existence that seek to show only that a rst cause exists etc. The God that our argument discusses is closer to the classical conception than this, at least.

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atheistic argument claims that since evil exists in the actual world, then it is not possible that an omnipotent and omnibenevolent being exists, i.e. given evil, God is not possible. In other words, some x (i.e. God), when combined with some other y (evil) in a possible world w (the actual world) generates a contradiction, so x does not possibly exist in w.11 Of course, some philosophers have attempted to overcome this argument.12 But again, we will not take a stand on this issue, and will instead employ a diffrent strategy. We have already seen that a God that has, say, the property of omnipotence plus an internally consistent set S of other properties that do not contradict omnipotence is not selfcontradictory. Further, consider a world where only this entity exists. In such a world, this entity cannot generate a contradiction when combined with some other entity: quite simply, there are no other entities. In sum, a being that has the property of omnipotence plus the properties in S is not self-contradictory, and if it is found by itself in a world, then it cannot contradict anything else either. That is, there are worlds (or there is at least one world) in which such a being does not generate a contradiction in either of the two ways in which the presence of an entity can. Therefore, (4) There is at least one world where God, understood in the sense discussed here, does not generate a contradiction. (4) follows easily from (2) and (3) via modus tollens, so no additional justication is needed for it. Step (5) is, (5) There is at least one world where God exists, i.e. God is possible. (5) follows from (1) and (4) via modus ponens, so no additional justication is needed. In effect, if steps (1) (3) are true, then so are (4) and (5). At this point, we know that there is at least one possible world that contains an omnipotent being; a claim that has some degree of theological interest in and of itself.
11 For discussion of the problem of evil, see Peter van Inwagen, The Problem of Evil (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006). 12 See Leibniz, Theodicy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1710/1951). See also George Schlesinger, The Problem of Evil and the Problem of Suffering, American Philosophical Quarterly, 1 (1964), 2447 and Religion and Scientic Method (Boston: D. Reidel, 1977). See Peter Forrest, The Problem of Evil: Two Neglected Defenses, Sophia, 20 (1981), 4954, as well.

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III. We now complete the argument. Step (6), which is found in traditional modal ontological arguments, is, (6) If God is possible, God is necessary. This step is, admittedly, the most difcult to establish (at least in our opinion). Nevertheless, some reasonably good justication can be offered for (6). But rst, it is important to clarify exactly what God is necessary means in this context. Here is one possible reading: there is a single omnipotent entity that is present in all possible worlds. There is one omnipotent entity token that necessarily exists. There is an omnipotent being that is somehow capable of existing in or straddling all possible worlds simultaneously. All possible worlds share at least one common part: namely, this omnipotent entity. It would be as if a single desk token, say, the desk that is in your ofce, not only exists in our world but in all other worlds as well. And it would be that desk that is present in all worlds, as opposed to a different desk that is just like that desk and so on. All possible worlds would share this desk as a part in the same way that a shared hand might be a common part of two Siamese twins (Lewis, On the Plurality of Worlds, 198). In short, possible worlds can overlap. Call this reading the strong reading. The weak reading, in contrast, denies that worlds can share a common part; worlds cannot overlap. So, consider the desk in your ofce. Suppose that your desk does not have any scratches on it, but possibly could have. There are different ways to conceive this situation. For example, if one endorses counterpart theory (see Lewis, On the Plurality of Worlds), one will say that there is a desk in a different possible world that is a counterpart to your desk (or is sufciently similar to your desk), but has a scratch on it. But the important point is this: the worlds in question do not share a common part; there is not a single desk that is both in our world and in another world. In short, the worlds do not overlap. To apply the weak reading to the case of God: there might be one omnipotent being in the actual world, and there might be an omnipotent being in a different possible world, but there is not one single omnipotent entity that is in both worlds, i.e., the worlds do not overlap.13 In sum, the strong reading is merely the claim
13 Above, we discussed counterpart theory; insofar as the weak reading is consistent with counterpart theory, our argument is consistent with counterpart theory. An interesting

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that worlds can overlap, while the weak reading is merely the claim that overlap is impossible. When we state that God is necessary, we have the weaker reading in mind; i.e., an omnipotent being exists in all possible worlds, but no single omnipotent being exists in all possible worlds at once.14 We use the weaker reading for two reasons. First, the claim that worlds can overlap in the relevant manner is contentious (see Lewis, On the Plurality of Worlds), and appealing to the weaker reading allows us to avoid this controversy (one reason one might think that overlap is impossible is that it is difcult to see how the same entity can exist in radically disconnected space-time locations, i.e., in different possible worlds). Second, and most importantly, the argument that we offer in favor of (6) below is only capable of establishing the truth of the weaker reading. That is, we try to show that the weak reading is true because, quite simply, that is the best that we can do. Note that presumably the most important goal of any argument for Gods existence is a demonstration that God exists in the actual world, the world we most care about; if we can establish that the weaker reading of God is necessary is true, we have met this goal.15 To continue, here is an argument for (6). Recall the possible world discussed above that contains only an omnipotent being. Call this being Abhir. Abhir is omnipotent, so by denition, Abhir can make any logically possible state of affairs obtain. Trivially, all logically possible worlds are logically possible states of affairs. So, since Abhir is omnipotent, Abhir is capable of turning
question is: is the argument also consistent with transworld identity? It depends. Any version of transworld identity that endorses overlap will be inconsistent with our argument. Any version of transworld identity that denies that overlap is possible will be consistent with our argument. For arguments against transworld identity with overlap, see Lewis (On the Plurality of Worlds); Lewis (On the Plurality of Worlds, 198) remarks, I cannot name one single philosopher who favours transworld identity thus understood, i.e., transworld identity with overlap, so few will be upset that our argument contradicts it. 14 When we say, e.g., that a given desk exists in a different possible world, we speak as if modal realism is true. But again, this is merely for convenience; if one prefers, one can say that a desk exists in the actual world, but perhaps in the other possible world, a desk exists only as an abstract entity of some sort (say, the desk is represented by a proposition or set of propositions). Or in the case of an omnipotent entity, one can say that what it means for an omnipotent entity to exist necessarily is this: an omnipotent entity exists in the actual world, and in all other possible worlds, an omnipotent entity exists as well, but in these other worlds, omnipotent entities are abstract entities (e.g., sets of propositions). 15 If one could establish that the stronger reading is true, they will also have met this goal. Our point is that even though we are only establishing the weak reading, this is sufcient to show that an omnipotent being exists in the actual world, and this is an important goal in itself.
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this sparse possible world into an exact duplicate of any logically possible world. To explain, Abhir starts out in a possible world that is otherwise empty. But Abhir might decide to turn this sparse possible world into a duplicate of the actual world. We know that Abhir can do this: the actual world is itself logically possible, and Abhir can bring about any logically possible state of affairs, so Abhir can turn this sparse world into a duplicate of the actual world.16 Likewise, Abhir could turn the sparse world into a duplicate of possible world w, and then possible world w1, then possible world w2, and so on for all logically possible worlds.17 But this is just another way of saying that Abhir can consistently exist in all logically possible worlds. But then, if consistency entails logical possibility (see above), it is logically possible that Abhir exists in all logically possible worlds. That is, there is at least one possible world in which Abhir is such that She exists in all possible worlds. In other words, Abhir is possibly necessary. But then, given the modal system S5, in which something that is possibly necessary is necessary, it is necessarily the case that Abhir exists in every possible world (i.e., an Abhir token exists in every possible world).18
16 Note that it is not necessarily the case that in this scenario, Abhir looked into the actual world and decided to create a duplicate of it in Her empty world; it might be that Abhir simply decided on Her own to create a world just like the actual world without even knowing about, or being inspired by, the actual world. Also note that we are not saying that Abhir created the actual world per se; we are only saying that it is possible that Abhir exists in a perfect duplicate of the actual world. 17 To approach this from another direction: any logically possible world can be thought of as a logically possible state of affairs. This state of affairs might be complex, and it will involve facts about everything that exists in the world and all of their interrelations and so on. But this state of affairs will be logically possible. And since, by denition, Abhir can make any logically possible state of affairs obtain, Abhir can make the same (where same means qualitatively identical as opposed to numerically identical) state of affairs that obtain in any logically possible world obtain in the initially sparse world. That is, Abhir can make the sparse world a duplicate of any logically possible world. 18 The precise theorem of S5 that our argument uses is the claim that if something is possibly necessary, it is necessary. George E. Hughes and Maxwell J. Cresswell call this theorem S5(1) (see Hughes and Cresswell, A New Introduction to Modal Logic (London: Routledge, 1996), 58). One can obtain the system S5 (and S5(1) along with it) by adding axioms E (i.e., if something is possible, it is necessarily possible) and T (i.e., if p is necessary, then p) to the system K. T is not controversial; indeed, it is difcult to see how it could be false. E strikes us as plausible as well; if something is logically possible, then it is necessarily logically possible (because the space of what is logically possible can not change). To approach the plausibility of E from another direction, E can be obtained with S4 (if necessarily necessarily p, then necessarily p) and B (if p, then it is necessary that p is possible). S4 amounts to the idea that iteration of the modal operators is superuous. Saying that A is necessarily necessary is considered a uselessly long-winded way of saying that A is necessary ( James Garson, Modal Logic, in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Ed. Edward N. Zalta), Summer 2007 Edition, section 2); this seems safe. And B seems safe

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In sum, if God is possible, God is necessary.19 One might wonder if the argument for (6) does indeed imply that our favored reading of God is necessary is true. For instance, one might suspect that the argument implies that the strong reading of God is necessary is true, if God is possible. But this is not the case. The argument for (6) involved showing that Abhir can consistently exist in all possible worlds (and so can possibly exist in all possible worlds), and we did this by showing that Abhir can consistently exist in each world one world at a time; that is, we argued that Abhir can turn the sparse world into a duplicate of the actual world, and then another world, and then another world, and so on. All this seems to imply is that some Abhir token or other can exist in any given possible world, and not that a single Abhir token can exist in all possible worlds. In order to establish the strong reading, at least with the machinery of our argument, Abhir would have to turn the sparse possible world into a duplicate of all possible worlds at once; so the sparse world would need to be turned into a duplicate of the actual world, and world w, and world w1, and all other worlds, at the same time. If Abhir can do this, then we would know that the same Abhir token can exist in all possible worlds. But this seems impossible. For example, one world might have a thousand donkeys in it, while another might have a thousand and one donkeys, and it is impossible for a single world (i.e. the initially sparse world) to contain a thousand donkeys and a thousand and one donkeys at once. Of course, even if we are wrong on this point, and the argument for (6) does
as well: if B is false, then p can be true, but it is not necessary that p is possible. That is, p is true but there is a possible world in which p is not possible. But if p is true in one world, then p must be possible. If S4 and B (and so E) are true, and T is also true, then S5 is safe as well (at least in this context). Of course, we are not the rst to appeal to S5 in an argument for Gods existence. 19 Throughout, for the sake of convenience, we have been speaking as if possible worlds concretely exist. Again, our argument does not depend upon modal realism; to help show this, and for the sake of clarity in general, here is a different version of the argument for (6). Suppose that some generic form of ersatzism is true; for example, a possible world is simply a collection of propositions. Again, consider the world that contains only Abhir; this world is a consistent set of propositions, one of which is Abhir exists. Call this set of propositions P. Any possible world will be a set of consistent propositions (there will even be a set of propositions that corresponds to the actual world). Abhir is omnipotent will be true in P; and this proposition implies that Abhir can make any logically consistent set of propositions obtain in the initially sparse world. So any possible world is consistent with the sparse possible world. That is, Abhir exists is consistent with all logically possible sets of propositions, and so all logically possible worlds. But then it is possible that Abhir exists is true in all possible worlds. In other words, there is a possible world in which Abhir exists is necessarily true. But then Abhir exists is necessarily true.
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establish the truth of the strong reading, then we will still have shown that an omnipotent being necessarily exists if such a being is possible at all, and so exists in the actual world (if possible), and this is what matters most, i.e., the argument would still be successful. One might try rejecting the argument by simply arguing that while Abhir can perhaps exist alone in a possible world, when Abhir decides to shape the possible world into a duplicate of a different possible world, e.g., the actual world, a contradiction is generated. But the canonical form of this argument, the atheistic argument from evil, relies on the claim that God is omnipotent and omnibenevolent, whereas Abhir is merely omnipotent so far as we know. So, atheists will need a new argument here. One might also object that since we have dened Abhir to be that entity which is omnipotent plus has some other set S of properties that is yet undened, perhaps this being is omnimalevolent, at least in the actual world (after all, perhaps omnimalevolence is one of the properties in S); such a God is surely not worth worshipping, for example, so we have achieved only a Pyrrhic victory. But, just as atheists argue that the presence of evil shows that God cannot be both omnipotent and omnibenevolent, we argue that the presence of good shows that God cannot be all bad (given that God is omnipotent). And further, we never set out to show that an omnipotent being that deserves to be worshipped exists; we only tried to show that an omnipotent being exists. One might also object that our argument is consistent with the existence of more than one omnipotent being in a given possible world. Perhaps, for example, there are a million different omnipotent beings in the actual world. But we only set out to show that at least one omnipotent being exists in the actual world.20 The conclusion of the argument is:

20 Note that if there are multiple Gods in a given possible world, these Gods must be qualitatively identical (so at least we will not have a Mount Olympus type situation in which the various beings are always bickering amongst themselves). For if these beings are not qualitatively identical, they might have conicting desires; perhaps one of them wants to bring one state of affairs about, while the other wants to prevent this state of affairs, for example. It is clear that at least one of them will not have their desire fullled, and so is not all-powerful. But both of them are all-powerful, by hypothesis. That is, the assumption that there are two qualitatively different omnipotent beings in the same world leads to a contradiction, and so is logically impossible. Further, one might wonder if there can even be multiple qualitatively identical omnipotent beings in the same world. For example, perhaps all of these Gods might desire to be the only God that exists in a given possible

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(7) God necessarily exists. (7) follows from (5) and (6) via modus ponens. IV. We argued that a being that has at least the property of omnipotence necessarily exists; we hope our argument is more conclusive than previous modal ontological arguments. Our fundamental idea was that if one adopts a sparser conception of God than that discussed in the philosophical and theological traditions, it is easier to show that God exists. We chose to show that this God is omnipotent because if God is not omnipotent, there is no reason to think God could turn the sparse possible world into a duplicate of any logically possible world, a claim that we need in our argument for (6). A natural question is: can the argument be expanded in such a way so that we know this omnipotent God has the other properties God was traditionally thought to have, and if so, how?21 We dont know. One worry is that part of what allowed our argument to work, insofar as it does work, was our sparse conception of God. So, it appears that attempts to expand upon what properties God has might undermine the argument offered here. Therefore, perhaps the best this argument can do is show that an omnipotent being exists?22 University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA 22902 USA jlm3am@virginia.edu j.michael.mitchell@gmail.com

world; again, not all of these beings desires can be fullled, so they cannot be omnipotent (even though we have assumed they are). But such issues are complex and will have to be properly addressed elsewhere. 21 It might not be too difcult to show that this being is, or at least could be, omniscient. Dene omniscience as the ability to know anything that it is logically possible to know. With this denition, it is logically possible for a being to be omniscient, so given that a being is omnipotent, i.e. given a being that can make any logically possible state of affairs come about, it seems this being could be omniscient as well. Omnibenevolence seems tougher to prove because of the atheistic argument from evil. 22 The authors would like to thank an anonymous referee and George Michie for immensely helpful comments on an earlier draft.
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