Millican on the ontological argument

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Abstract

Peter Millican (2004) provides a novel and elaborate objection to Anselm’s ontological argument. Millican thinks that his objection is more powerful than any other because it does not dispute contentious ‘deep philosophical theories’ that underlie the argument. Instead, it tries to reveal the ‘fatal flaw’ of the argument by considering its ‘shallow logical details’. Millican’s objection is based on his interpretation of the argument, according to which Anselm relies on what I call the ‘principle of the superiority of existence’ (PSE). I argue that (i) the textual evidence Millican cites does not provide a convincing case that Anselm relies on PSE and that, moreover, (ii) Anselm does not even need PSE for the ontological argument. I introduce a plausible interpretation of the ontological argument that is not vulnerable to Millican’s objection and conclude that even if the ontological argument fails, it does not fail in the way Millican thinks it does.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1027-1039
Number of pages13
JournalMind
Volume116
Issue number464
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2007