Journal of Philosophy

Ontological Arguments

Alex Orenstein, The Graduate School University Center and Queens College, City University of New York

Abstract. There are good reasons for being dissatisfied with standard criticisms of the various arguments, all of which are referred to as being “The Ontological Argument”. While refutation by logical analogy is compelling, it merely teaches us that something is amiss. It does not specify the exact nature of the flaw. The first part of this paper examines and rejects several well-known attempts at refuting and clarifying the argument(s). The second part attempts to provide a principled uniform account of what is wrong by treating the arguments as resting on definitions. Then, by bringing to bear Ajdukiewicz’s exhaustive classification of definitions, we arrive at a unified account of the flaw common to such arguments. In effect we have an explication of the dictum that one cannot define into existence. Back