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Original scientific paper

The Relevance of Kant’s Objection to the Ontological Arguments and Avicenna’s Exploration of Existence as an Alternative Grounding

Ayşenur Ünügür Tabur orcid id ; University of Augsburg

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In the present paper, the three most prominent formulations of the ontological argument will be analysed, namely the classical argument which renders existence a perfection, Norman Malcom’s modal version of the argument which labels not existence but necessary existence a perfection, and Alvin Plantinga’s modal version of the argument which appeals to the possible worlds semantics to prove the necessity of God’s existence. According to Kant’s objection, the ontological argument takes existence to be a predicate that adds up a further perfection to the concept of God and thereby entails either a reference problem between the actual object and its concept or infers God’s actual existence in a tautological way. Despite its impact, Kant’s objection to the argument has been criticised for his ambiguous employment of the notion of existence as well as for being irrelevant to the ontological argument and to the modal ontological argument by Plantinga. In the present study, I aim first to show that Kant’s objection is not only relevant to the classical version of the argument but also to the modal formulations of it as opposed to Plantinga’s claim. In doing so, I argue that it is not Kant’s use of the notion of existence that is ambiguous, but it is the classical and modal versions of the ontological argument which gain their apparent strength from their ambiguous employment of the notion of existence. Second purpose of the paper is to give an alternative analysis of the notion of existence based on Avicenna’s metaphysics and thereby to point towards an alternative ground for a possible reformulation of the ontological argument, which could avoid Kant’s objection.


the Ontological Argument; Kant; existence; predicate; Avicenna

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