How can Alvin Plantinga's EAAN be refuted

Dr. N.Strobach, PS Theodizee, University of Rostock, Inst. For Phil. R 9028,

Transcript

1 Dr. N. Strobach, PS Theodizee, Uni Rostock, Inst. Für Phil. R 9028, Wed, Analytical Solutions III: Alvin Plantinga: The Nature of Necessity, ch. 9 "God, Evil, and the Metaphysics of Freedom" 1. Background Alvin Plantinga (born 1929), alongside Richard Swinburne and John Leslie Mackie, is one of the most important exponents of contemporary analytical religious philosophy. Calvinist himself, he teaches at the Catholic University of Notre Dame, Indiana. He has been famous at least since his book "The Nature of Necessity" (Oxf. Univ. Press, Oxford 1974). Especially the 10th chapter, in which he tries to update the proof of God by Anselm of Canterbury with the means of modern modal logic, has received a lot of attention. "Modal logic" is to be understood here as the formal logic of the terms "possible", "really" and "necessary", which was initially developed in the 30s, but particularly intensively in the 60s of the 20th century. Plantinga's book is essentially an attempt at a metaphysical interpretation of modal logic. In some cases he himself makes very technical arguments, and the book requires considerable prior knowledge. Plantinga's crucial text on the theodicy problem is Chapter 9 (pp). Plantinga's thoughts on theodicy are also mixed there with a wealth of technical details (e.g. for the formal logic analysis of so-called counterfactual statements, roughly speaking: statements with "would" and "would"). The basic ideas can, however, be presented largely informally with a little distance. The only important thing is the somewhat strange concept of the "possible world", which Leibniz introduced in connection with the theodicy problem. Exactly what a possible world is is controversial, but it's not difficult to get a rough idea of ​​it. We can e.g. imagine that the world is exactly as we have it around us now, only that the door of the seminar room is not white, but painted green. In this case we imagine "another possible world", i.e. we imagine the world as it could be, but not necessarily is. In a somewhat simplified way, one defines in modal logic: "It is possible that p" (Mp) = "There is a possible world such that p is true in it" "It is necessary that p" (Np) = "There is no possible world in which p is not true or p is true in all possible worlds. " Even if this is problematic in relation to other texts, it is ok here instead of "There is a possible world such that p is true in it" to read: "A situation in which p is true is not inconceivable".

2 2. Plantinga's objectives of proof Plantinga's argument is not very easy to understand. Its main aim is only a defense (defense) of the position of the theist against the well-known argument of the atheist (atheologian) regarding the following statements: p = there is evils in the world q = an omnipotent and all-good God exists. The atheist's argument "(1) If p is true, then q cannot be true. (2) p is obviously true. (3) So q cannot be true." Plantinga accepts (2) but doubts (1). First of all, he says: There is no obvious contradiction in the logical form between p and q (as would be the case with "All swans are white" and "Some swans are not white"). Nevertheless, (1) can be true in the following sense: (1 *) "There is no possible world in which p and q are simultaneously true". Example: The statements "A has a color" and "A has no extension" are together not true in any possible world, but this is due to their content, not their logical form. Plantinga now differentiates between a defense against the atheist and a proper theodicy (192): Defense: The atheist's argument cannot be convincingly refuted Theodicy: It can be explained in detail why p and q are true together. Plantinga's goal is defense. He believes that he does not have to provide a proper theodicy, but actually only show that it is in principle possible to agree p and q. That is the only task of the philosopher; On the other hand, helping a person who, despite the fact that p and q are compatible in principle, is still at odds with God, is the responsibility of the pastor (195). In addition to the presentation of his defense (and thus rather strangely amalgamated), Plantinga updates and improves Leibniz's argument for freedom. I find this attempt at improvement, even as a downright theodicy, actually much more interesting than Plantinga's own argument, which on top of that has a rather tricky logical structure. That is why I focus on Plantinga's criticism of Leibniz. However, Plantinga sees this suggestion as preparation for his actual argument rather than as part of it.

3 3. Plantinga's criticism and suggestion for improvement to Leibniz's freedom argument In order to understand Plantinga's suggestion about Leibniz, one must first know what he means by "doing something morally wrong". That is closely related to his (very strong) concept of freedom. It defines: Def. 1: A person X is free at t with respect to an action A iff. X at t has the opportunity to do A or to omit A. Def. 2: X makes (at t) something morally wrong with regard to A iff. X makes something morally wrong (at t) in relation to A iff. (a) X does A (at t), but it would be morally right to omit A (at t), or (b) X fails to do A (at t), but it would be morally correct to do A (at t). It is also clear that Plantinga implicitly accepts the following definition: Def. 3: X does (at t) something morally good iff. (a) X is free at t with respect to A (b) Either X carries out A, and that is morally correct, or X omits A, and that is morally correct as well. In order to clarify the relationship between Leibniz and Plantinga, it makes sense to split Leibniz's argument into two parts, the argument framework and the actual core, the freedom argument. The framework of Leibniz's argument (P1) God wanted to create the best of all possible worlds (P2) God could create the best of all possible worlds (C) Reality is the best of all possible worlds (even if it doesn't look like it at first). 1 So: The atheist naturally argues against this: (A1) If (P1) and (P2) are true, (C) should be true. (A2) From p (= there are evils) it follows that (C) is false (A3) So either (P1) or (P2) is false. (A4) For q (= There is a ... God) to be true, (P1) and (P2) must be true (A5) So q is false. The core of Leibniz's argument is to support the scaffolding against this objection as follows: 1 on Plantinga's paper, cf. 168.

4 Leibniz's freedom argument The weak point of the atheist's argument is (A2). (A2) is simply wrong. It does not follow from p that (C) is false. Although reality contains evils, it is the best of all possible worlds. This is difficult to believe at first, but it can be made plausible as follows: (F0) p is synonymous with "Something is done morally wrong" (isv Def.2) (F1) Every world in which nothing (isv Def.3 ) Morally good can be done is worse than any world in which morally good can be done. (F2) Every world in which morally good can be done must contain beings who (in the sense of Def.1) are free. (F3) Beings who are free can also do something morally wrong. (F4) Every world in which something good can be done morally is a world in which something can also be done morally wrong (F2, F3) (F5) Every world in which something can be done morally wrong is also a world where morally something is wrong. (F6) A world in which morally good can be done, in which something is then also done morally wrong (cf.F5), is however still better (cf.F1) than one in which nothing morally good is done at all because it contains no free beings at all. (F7) The fact that something is done morally wrong in reality does not speak against the fact (cf. F6) that reality is the best of all possible worlds. (F8) The fact that there is evil (p, cf. F0) does not speak against the truth of (C). Leibniz's argument offers a number of points of attack. The atheist can e.g. Doubt (F0) (natural evil!) To block the step from (F7) to (F8). Or he can criticize (F5) and strike back: (A1 *) There is a possible world in which everyone is always free to do the right thing (A2 *) So not in every world in which something can be done morally wrong also inevitably got something morally wrong. (A3 *) So (because of A2 *) (F5) is wrong. (A4 *) A possible world in which everyone is always free to do what is right is better than one in which good can be done, but some things are also done wrong; yes it is actually the best of all. Worlds. (A5 *) Reality is a world in which good can be done, but some things are also done wrong. (A6 *) Reality is not the best of all. Worlds (A1 *, A4 *, A5 *); So (C) is also wrong. (A7 *) If (P2) is true, God could have created a world in which everyone is always free to do what is right. (A8 *) So if (P2) is true, (P1) is false (because of A6 * and A7 *) ...

5 Plantinga is now doing something amazing. He accepts half of the decisive core of Leibniz's argument (which he consciously expands into the so-called Free Will Defense), but he criticizes the framework and therefore also rejects the other half of the core argument, while accepting parts of the atheist's argument. He means in the same way: Plantinga's combination "Leibniz is partly right ...": (F2) Every world in which morally good can be done must contain beings who (in the sense of Def.1) are free. (F3) Beings who are free can also do something morally wrong. (F4) Every world in which something good can be done morally is a world in which something can also be done morally wrong (cf. F2, F3) "... but sometimes the atheist is also right ... ": (A1 *) There is a possible world in which everyone is always free to do the right thing (A2 *) Not in every world in which something can be done morally wrong, something is inevitably done morally wrong. (A3 *) So (cf. A2 *) (F5) is wrong first. (A4 *) A possible world in which everyone is always free to do what is right is better than one in which good can be done, but some things are also done wrong; yes it is actually the best of all. Worlds. (A5 *) Reality is a world in which good can be done, but some things are also done wrong. (A6 *) Reality is not the best of all. Worlds (A1 *), (A4 *), (A5 *); So (C) is also wrong. "... How does that fit together? - well ...:" (Pla) There is a possible world in which everyone is always free to do the right thing. But God couldn't make this world a reality. (P2) is therefore wrong (Leibniz 'Lapse,). Plantinga argues as follows: In order to give reality the chance to become the best possible world (and that should be the case because of P1!), God had to allow free beings. 2 Of course he would have liked to see reality become the best possible world. But that was not only in his power: "God, though omnipotent, could not have created just any world he pleased (168)". Plantinga's example is the fictional Mayor Curley, who freely chooses to accept a donation of $ in connection with the construction of a road. Of course, Curley is doing something morally wrong. If God hadn't been able to create boundary conditions in which Curley would certainly freely decide against the donation 3 (Mackies 2 "[God] could have forestalled the occurrence of much evil only by excising the possibility of much good" (167). 3 Of course Plantinga can admit: God could have created a framework in which Curley would certainly not accept the donation, except that Curley would then no longer have been free to do so!

6 objection (168)) 4? No. Such boundary conditions would destroy the possibility of free choice. A decision is only really free if the boundary conditions (which God creates) leave it open whether the decision is for or against the action in question: "God cannot cause me to freely do or refrain from A." (171) "if [god] creates ... [Curley] free with respect to this action, then whether or not he takes it is up to Curley - not to God" (184). Since Curley freely takes the $, it stands to reason to say: It was not in God's power to realize a world in which Curley rejects the $ freely, although this world exists as a theoretical possibility and would be better than reality. 4. Plantinga's own argument In the context of defense, Plantinga's opinion is only about proving the direct opposite of (1 *) to be true: ~ (1 *) "A situation in which p and q are both true is not inconceivably". Plantinga also believes that (p & q) is true in reality (he admits p, and he believes he can even prove q in Chapter 10). But first he only wants to argue for the weaker claim ~ (1 *). The idea is as follows: If there is a conceivable situation in which God exists with the usual attributes, but has absolutely no chance of creating a world in which there is something morally good but no evil, then is In any case, it has been shown that p and q are in principle compatible (165, 184f). It may be that in this imaginable situation something very improbable is the case, which is reflected in the fact that in this situation a certain statement r would be true. So it can be completely implausible that r is true in reality. Example: Someone denies that the absence of any kind of punishment and the absence of any theft are in principle compatible. To show that this is not true, one could argue that there is a conceivable situation in which p 'and q' are both true, because on top of that r 'is true: p': There are no penalties q ': It there are no thefts: everyone has enough and is decent people. Of course, r 'is neither true nor probable in reality. Nevertheless, one can show that p 'and q' are not fundamentally incompatible. 4 See J.L. Mackie, Evil and Omnipotence, in: Mind 64 (1955), p. 209.

7 Plantinga's corresponding proposal with regard to the theodicy problem is: p = There is evil (as before) q = There is an omnipotent and all-good God (as before) r = Every creature essence is imperfect in the sense that in every world, in which it is updated, does something morally wrong at least once (189). A creature essence is something like the individual concept (Leibniz) of a human being created by God, the essence of an individual, "Curleyhood", the being of Curley. Every possible world in which this term applies to anyone is, of course, precisely one in which Curley exists. In reality, e.g. the individual term "being Alvin Plantinga" is updated, the individual term "being Sherlock Holmes" is not. In another possible world it is just the opposite. Now let's imagine that r is true. It's not that difficult. Now imagine what it would mean if r were true. That would mean that God, if he updates a world with people at all, only ever has the chance to update worlds in which at least one thing is done morally wrong once: A situation is conceivable in which God has no world at all without it Can realize evil (with). That should be enough as a defense. 5. Smaller points towards the end of chapter 5.1. The Amount of Evil (190f) Couldn't God have created a world with less evils? Plantinga's answer: Maybe not. It is not difficult to imagine a better possible world. But maybe it was not in God's power to create a better one, since it does not depend on him alone how good the world will be. A defense does not need more than this possibility, only for a proper theodicy one would have to show that this is really so Natural evils and the devil () Does the Free Will Defense not only explain the evils that can be traced back to free actions (cf. . F0)? Plantinga's Answer: One can imagine that all natural evils are based on the free works of the devil. A defense does not need more than this possibility, only for a proper theodicy one would have to show that this is really so. Does the truth of p reduce the probability of the truth of q? (194f) Plantinga's answer: No. The existence of a certain amount of evil in the world (10 13 turps of evil) neither confirms nor refutes the existence of the devil and is compatible with both his existence and non-existence. Thus, the existence of turps of evil in the world does not make God's existence any less likely than any other set of evils.