Wednesday, September 15, 2021

An ontological argument from justice

Buras and Cantrell have given a very clever ontological argument for the existence of God based on a desire for happiness. Here is a variant of their argument based on justice.

  1. Ought implies (metaphysical) possibility.

  2. There ought to be justice for humans.

  3. Necessarily, if there is justice for humans, it is possible that there is a human who has happiness.

  4. Necessarily, if there is a human who has happiness, God exists.

  5. So, possibly God exists. (1-4 and S5)

  6. So, God exists. (S5 and as God is essentially divine and necessarily exists.)

I want to expand a little on 3 and 4.

In any world where there is justice for humans, there is (a) a practical possibility of a human being innocent, and (b) a system that reliably rewards innocent humans with happiness. Items (a) and (b) taken together plausibly imply a practical, and hence metaphysical, possibility of happiness. That gives us (3).

Buras and Cantrell defend claim (4). My favorite defense of claim (4) is that human happiness, when we think through our deep desire for eternal life as well as the danger of boredom in eternal lfie, requires some sort of friendship with God.


Luke Hill said...

How does human happiness as derived from the ought of justice make God exist?

Alexander R Pruss said...

I think deep reflection on human happiness shows that human happiness requires interpersonal relationships. But over eternity, only an interpersonal relationship with an infinite perfect being would satisfy.

SolidStateDevice said...

That's a really good point you raise. I believe that's an often neglected issue that secular theories of ethics fails to address (in addition to many more).

If an afterlife existed but God wasn't apart of it, it would really just be hell.

Justice wouldn't be served on an atheist afterlife because there would be no ultimate perfect being to amend victims of rape, genocide, torture and so forth.