More on the Necessity of Creation
April 7, 2006 — 15:46

Author: Trent Dougherty  Category: Theological Fatalism  Comments: 25

I have previously expressed on Prosblogion my belief that Rowe’s argument — made most recently and thoroughly in Can God be Free? — against the existence of God from the impossibility of creating the best world founders on the concept of sufficient goodness and satisficing action and I don’t wish to revisit that issue. However, I do think there is an issue in the neighborhood which suggests a conclusion which will be unpopular with many: that God must create a world.  The argument starts with a kind of dominance principle and I’ll call it the "swamping principle"–(SP) for short–because one category swamps the other.

(SP) For any two types of actions A and B if every token of A is better than any token of B, then God must bring about a token of A.

So let A = Creating a member of the set of sufficiently good worlds and let B = creating no world.
It looks, then, like on this assignment (SP) entails that God must create.
I don’t think this is a very interesting proposition given the operative sense of "must" and that I’m not an unrestricted libertarian.
What I find interesting is the following dialectic: Leibniz and Clarke agree that there’s a best possible world and dispute whether this is consistent with God being free and the nature of that freedom. Rowe denies that there is a best possible world and argues from that that there is no God, since a God would have to create the best. I agree with Rowe that there is no best possible world, but reject his argument on the grounds that God can satisfice. However, the satisficing response assumes that there is a class of action-types like A above which, together with (SP), entails that God must create which brings us back to the Leibniz/Clarke debate on God’s freedom.
There are lots of interesting threads leading out of this, but I wonder if anyone thinks they have a counter-example to (SP).

Comments:
  • Trent, very interesting post. You say this about Rowe,
    “Rowe denies that there is a best possible world and argues from that that there is no God, since a God would have to create the best”
    This is not true. Rowe does not argue that God would have to create the best. Indeed he denies it. Rowe says that God could not create any world w if there is some better world w’ that he could have created instead. He does not insist that God create the best world because, given the infinitely improving sequence, there is no best world. Hence requiring that God create the best world is requiring the impossible. But for any world God creates it is not impossible that he create a better one. Or, so says Rowe.
    Hasker has tried to show that Rowe’s requirment is equivalent to requiring that God create the best world: indeed, he gives a proof. But the proof is plainly circular. It is easy to show the circularity and I’ve done so (Klaas Kraay has too).
    About a counterexample to SP.
    (SP) For any two types of actions A and B if every token of A is better than any token of B, then God must bring about a token of A.
    Let A = God brings to an end unnecessary suffering and let B = God does not bring to an end unnecessary suffering. Clearly A is better than B and yet God cannot bring about a token of A. God cannot bring about a token of A since God can never allow any unnecessary suffering to begin with.

    April 7, 2006 — 16:20
  • Oh, but isn’t that because there’s one token of B that’s better than every token of A? If there’s no unnecessary suffering to bring to an end, then we’re in B, and isn’t that generally thought to be better than every kind of unnecessary suffering that does occur but is brought to an end? So I don’t think that’s a counterexample to SP.
    I can think of counterexamples to SP if the satisficing move is the correct one. Arbitrarily set some line at the amount of goodness the world has to have to be in cateogory A, and anything less is category B, provided that the line is somewhere about the amount of goodness required for satisficing. In other words, any world above the line is ok, and any world at least just below the line is also just as ok. So it’s not true that God is required to make an A-world when he could instead make a world just below the line in terms of amount of goodness. Yet every token of A is better than every token of B.

    April 7, 2006 — 17:05
  • Mike,
    I was being sloppy about Rowe because I was wanting to avoid discussing his argument. I tend to hold that they are equivalent, but there’s nothing riding on it. Substitute “God can’t create a world than which there is a greater” (“best” in a loose sense).
    As to the counterexample, though, thanks. (SP) seems to need an ability clause.
    (SP2) For any two types of actions A and B if every token of A is better than any token of B, then God must bring about a token of A if He can.
    Jeremy,
    Very nice observation! Still, I’m going to keep the ability clause in case–and I would not be too surprised–Mike’s point can be rephrased so as to meet your rejoinder.
    I like your objection because it attempts to turn my own strategy against me. Let me make sure I get the objection precise, since I think you switch the characterization in the middle. I think what you need is one line L at the level of satisfaction and one line L’ arbitrarily high into the realm of the satisfactory.
    Let S- be the property of having a degree of goodness between L and L’ and
    let S+ be the degree of goodness from L’ on.
    Now let A = Creating a world with S+ and
    let B = Creating a world with S-.
    Now that we’ve got all that in order it seems that any token of A is better than any token of B, yet, ex hypothesi, God could perform a token of B.
    I think this is a very good objection and requires another modification in (SP)
    (SP3) For any two types of actions A and B if every token of A has a satisfactory level of goodness and no token of B does, then God must bring about a token of A if He can.
    I like how this is going. The more trivial the Swamping Principle looks while still entailing the result that God must create, the stronger the argument for necessary creation.

    April 7, 2006 — 18:03
  • I’m trying to figure out how SP3 is going to motivate the problem. I think you’ll ned an argument that not creating is below the satisficing level, but doesn’t that just beg the question against the person who thinks God could have refrained from creating?

    April 7, 2006 — 18:50
  • “If there’s no unnecessary suffering to bring to an end, then we’re in B, and isn’t that generally thought to be better than every kind of unnecessary suffering that does occur but is brought to an end?”
    1. No, if there is no unnecessary suffering to bring to an end we are not in B. I guess I might have misdescribed it, but I can’t see how it is not pretty obvious. Still, let me be clearer. In B there is unnecessary suffering that God does not bring to an end. How else could I have suggested that B is worse than A??
    2. About SP3, there is a counterexample here as well.
    (SP3) For any two types of actions A and B if every token of A has a satisfactory level of goodness and no token of B does, then God must bring about a token of A if He can.
    Let B produce the outcome in which there is an unsatisfactory level of goodness. Let A produce the outcome in which there is a satisfactory level of goodness. Let C yield the outcome in which there is as much goodness as the outcome produced by A. And let C be incompatible with both A and B.
    In this case God can perform A but it is not true that God must do so. He may choose C instead.
    3. Rowe’s position is not equivalent to claiming that God must actualize a best possible world. It is also does not require the impossible (as Hasker mistakenly argues). The only way to generate a proof that Rowe’s position entails that God is required to do the impossible is to assume in the proof (transparently contrary to Rowe) that God exists! And this is precisely what Hasker does. It’s just a poor argument.

    April 7, 2006 — 20:06
  • Mike,
    I had been assuming in my mind that the principle would be pair-wise iterated until all insufficient alternatives were eliminated, but I need to make it general. At first I’d considered conflating your A and C since the relevant feature is producing n utiles. I’m going to try to generalize, but the first pass might be clunky.
    (SP4) Let P be a partition of God’s available actions into the set S of types of actions which have satisfactory goodness and a set -S failing to have satisfactory goodness…
    Wait a second! I was about to state a Swamping Principle which basically meant “God must satisfice if he can.” So maybe I should switch the strategy to something like the following argument.
    1. God must satisfice if he can. Assumption
    2. The set of satisfactory worlds is non-empty.
    3. The option of not creating does not satisfice.
    4. Therefore God must create.
    I suppose that 3 is the most controversial (I’m not willing to dispute 1 at this point). It seems intuitive enough to me. Because 1 is modal, it doesn’t mean that there is no conceivable scenario in which it would be right for God not to create. If 2 were false, we’d be on the road to a least of all evils argument.
    So apparently I had satisficing in the back of my mind when I set out to construct a Swamping Principle.
    Thanks guys for making me Chisholm this principle to the point where it’s true nature was made clear. Any thoughts on 3?

    April 7, 2006 — 20:53
  • Mike, as you worded it B “God does not bring to an end unnecessary suffering.” That doesn’t involve any quantification over unnecessary suffering. As you have reworded it, it does.
    I think I misunderstood your entire intent, though. Are you saying that God couldn’t do either A or B but would have to do something else? That’s a very different point from what I thought you were making. Just because A is better than B doesn’t mean God should do A, because God could (and in your case should) do something else entirely. The ability clause won’t solve that problem. I think what Trent needs to do then is to make sure A and B are an exhaustive list of God’s options. If creating and not creating are the only options his argument needs, then I think that’s pretty exhaustive. There may be lots of options within one of them, but it’s still going to be an exhaustive list of two. That’s not the case with the counterexamples we’ve been talking about.
    Trent, as I said in my 6:50 pm comment above, I don’t see any reason to think not creating doesn’t satisfice. A perfectly good being chooses not to create. What exists is still very, very good, and there’s nothing bad at all. How could that be morally impermissible?

    April 7, 2006 — 21:59
  • Quick question: Why think that God’s not creating wouldn’t be among the class of very good possible worlds?

    April 8, 2006 — 3:02
  • Jeremy,
    My point was to counterexample SP. All you need to do that is to find an action type A and an action type B such that every token of A is better than any token of B and YET God need not bring about A. In the interest of keeping posts at some reasonable length, I briefly specified the counterexample. I’d hoped context would provide the rest. Strictly (if a bit pedantically), I should have said,
    A = the action of bringing to an end a high degree unnecessary suffering that has long existed.
    B= the action of allowing to endure a a high degree of unnecesary suffering that has long existed.
    I take it to be obvious that A is better than B. But if not, tweak up the relative suffering so that it is obviously better. But it is also true that God need not (since he could not) bring about A. In order to bring about A he would have to have permitted unnecessary suffering. And he can’t do that.

    April 8, 2006 — 8:17
  • Trent,
    There is a non-moral reason to wonder more about (1), though I understand that you currently find it plausible. Reconsider what (1) asserts. It says that God must satisfice, if he can. So in every world in which God exists, it is true that he satisfices, if he can. Since God exists in every world it follows that every world meets the satisficing standard (every world is a “good enough” world). That I take it is false.
    Let’s show that the conclusion follows by reductio. Assume for reductio that (i) God exists in some world, (ii) God satifices in every world, if he can and (iii) some world w is not a good-enough world.
    It is true *in* every world in which God exists that God actualizes that world. It is therefore true-in-w that God actualizes w and that w is not a good-enough world. It follows it is not necessary that God satisfices. !@# Contradiction with premise (1).
    So we have three possible conclusions. Either (a) God does not exist in every possible world or (b) Every world is a good-enough world or (c) your premise (1) is false.
    Which is most reasonable? (a) violates a standard implication of divine perfection. (b) is wildly implausible. But if (a) is false and (b) is false, then (c) is true.
    Here is a tempting “solution” to this problem. Let God exist in every possible world and, in those worlds w that are not “good enough” conclude the following: it is true-in-w that God satisfices if he can and true-in-w that he cannot satisfice.
    This solution entails that there are some worlds w in which God exists and it is false-in-w that God actualizes w. But that is just false, unless you’re prepared to deny to God the minimal attributes of perfection. If God is omnipotent, omniscient, etc., then it is true in every world in which he exists that God actualizes that world. This “solution” is a dead end.

    April 8, 2006 — 8:38
  • Alan,
    Trent and Jeremy might have different replies to your question, but here’s one. If God does not create a world–more exactly, if God does not create any contingent being–then the only things that exist are those things that necessarily exist. So I guess your question comes down to why a world containing only necessarily existing beings (including God) would not be among the very good worlds. Or, to put it a different way, how much value inheres in contingently existing beings? I don’t know, but it seems that much of the value of worlds depends on the existence of contingent beings: every valuable tihing in nature, say, and the value of rational and free beings, and so on.

    April 8, 2006 — 8:50
  • Trent, (i) above (at 8:38) should read “God exists in every world”, not “God exists in some world”. Ok, enough fun. I’ve got to get to work!

    April 8, 2006 — 8:56
  • Garrick Brown

    Starting with the necessity of the existance of God helps to put my view in perspective. If the universe contains and/or is spacetime by definition then “outside” the universe is no spacetime. Given that for God to create something, it must not have existed before God must exist in a place outside of spacetime and thus time. Without the existance of time, there is no possibility of cause and effect and thus no need for creation. And no need for God. Even assuming the existance of God, there is no definition for “good” or “bad” that doesn’t rely on our own minds (doesn’t everything though?). There is really no need to believe in either “good” or “bad” outside our “realm”. As to the freedom of the assumed God, there is at once no freedom, due to no “time” to create and infinite freedom because God must by definition exist on a higher level than spacetime or that which surrounds it. As was pointed out in the late 1890’s by a German mathemetion, some things can be more infinite than others. For example, a numberline running in bother directions infinitly has less points on it by an infinite power than there are points between any two numbers. Thus giving us infinity to the 2nd power. Yet… would God have to “create” himself? For God to be able to create he must first be given that ability which would require a degree of lack of freedom and thus maring the definition of God. But by my earlier point, there need be no creation in this “demention” of “existance”. And thus no need for lack of “freedom”. God would not even have always existed… for there is no always without time. The fact that creation cannot exist without time, and God exists outside of time destroys all above arguement. The “good” and “bad” of things must be made in our minds or infact be a part of God, though not a creation of. If “good” and “bad” were to exist “outside” of God, there would by definition be no God. By this, assuming the very low probability (or unknown probability) of God’s very existance, God’s freedom is not violated. Morality is human perception. Though possibly a part of God, it is still no perfected due to our perception (everyone does not have the same view of morality). Ofcourse morality may not be just “black and white” but an infinite amount of colors… wouldn’t that make just alittle more sense? On another note… or the same… God can’t really logically create at all because of all of the above… negating our definition of God. The only way a God could come close to creating is by us precieving. When we notice a part of God, we “create” it. That is the closest God will ever come. Please email me at farfetchedchild@yahoo.com for debate, questions, or proposals.

    April 8, 2006 — 10:20
  • Alan,
    I was going to reply along very similar lines as Mike. There are kinds of good that are possibly exemplified only if there are contingent beings. I think some kind of Principle of Plenitude is plausible. A PP will say something to the effect that it is necessary that diffuse kinds of goods exist. A strong form would be that it is best that every kind of goodness be instantiated. Plotinus, I think, held to a strong PP. I think there’s a hint of it in Catholic doctrine. Consider the Baltimore Catechism: “Why did God make the world?/ To show forth his goodness and share with us His everlasting happiness in Heaven.”
    This might pressure theists toward God’s creating everlastingly (i.e. God’s always having created). Even atemporalists might worry that the idea that not creating doesn’t satisfice entails that there is something unsatisfactory about the inner life of God. I tried to craft a few SP’s to avoid that result, but they all fell prey to the original problem. That is, everything I could say on behalf of some satisfactory world over not creating could be said of some better world over the previous world. The more I think about it, the more it does seem that not creating does satisfice. This would provide a good explanation of why God was free not to create even though there are lots of good worlds. Interesting.
    Mike,
    You write “Since God exists in every world it follows that every world meets the satisficing standard (every world is a “good enough” world). That I take it is false.”
    I don’t see how that follows yet. I would have thought that the “if He can” clause would admit worlds in which God can’t satisfice. So if w is an unsatisfactory world it is still true in w that “God satisfices if he can” since the antecedent is false. What am I missing?
    And if it did follow I wouldn’t be bothered. One complication is that we often speak of “worlds” when we really have incomplete situations in mind. I actually do think every possible world is a satisfactory world because God wouldn’t create anything less (this seems to put more pressure on me to accept that not creating is satisfactory). I do think there are impossible worlds (and non-trivially-true counterpossibles) where that is true. God’s creative power, however, only ranges over possible worlds.

    April 8, 2006 — 16:17
  • Trent,
    Yes, the line you’re suggesting is what I called above the “tempting line” to take. But such a line is in my view a dead end.
    Suppose God exists in w and w is not a good-enough world. If God has all of the traditional traits, it follows that a morally perfect being *can* actualize a less-than-good-enough world. So the ‘can clause’ doesn’t solve the problem here. But why?
    In such a world God could have prevented all of the contingent states of affairs that happen obtain and he could have failed to create all of the contingent beings that happen to exist there. But (and here is the problem) by hypothesis (since we have supposed that there is such a less-than-good-enough world and that God exists there), he does not prevent any of the contingent states of affairs there and he does not fail to create the contingent beings there. Indeed he exists in that world, he created all of the contingent beings in that world and he allowed all of the contingent facts in that world.
    If it is insisted that God’s perfect goodness is incompatible with his actualizing such a world, then certain assumptions must be made to ensure that he could not do so. You must assume either that God is not omnipotent, or that he does not exist in that world or that he doesn’t know that he can prevent this and that state of affairs (i.e., he is not omniscient). You might also assume that God is not such a good being or that he is only contingently perfect. Something like this.
    Of course you could also assume that every world is a good enough world. Now you seem to find this latter assumption not entirely uncongenial. For my part, I find it beyond all credibility. On the face of it, the assumption is ad hoc. There is just no sufficient independent reason motivating such an extreme metaphysical position. On the other hand, there is every bit as much reason to believe that on balance quite terrible worlds are possible (some say, with good reason, actual, but let’s set that aside) as to believe quite good worlds are possible (as to believe good enough worlds are possible).
    So I’d rather avoid making the assumption that there are no less-than-good-enough worlds. As Russell observed, “it has all the virtue of theft over honest toil”. God exists and is a necessary being. So, what then? There must be some insightful way of making this compatible with the possibility of bad worlds. Honest toil and modal ingenuity will solve the problem. And certain solutions do suggest themselves: for instance, that if it is necessarily possible that God actualizes a less-than-good-enough world, then it cannot be an imperfection that God can actualize such a world. But that of course just suggests a possible line.

    April 8, 2006 — 17:29
  • Mike and Trent,
    I can understand why God’s creating would be in some respects greater than not creating, but it seems to me that if God’s existing sans creation is infinitely valuable, then God’s existing with creation will be only infinity plus some finite value. But infinity plus a finite number is still infinity, so it’s not clear to me why God’s not creating would be a significantly lesser good than creating to bump it out of the ranks of very good possible worlds.

    April 8, 2006 — 22:55
  • Trent,
    As a response to (SP) why not:
    (PT1) Perhaps every token of A is better than any token of B, but perhaps the sum of B tokens is better than the sum of A tokens, so God need not be confined to doing A.
    Analogy: Every token of the 10,000 dollar bill is better than any token of of the 10 dollar bill, but who wouldn’t rather have the sum of all the 10 dollar bills in existence (presumably millions), over the sum of all the 10,000 bills (there are only 10 of these).

    April 9, 2006 — 3:53
  • Alan, you write,
    “. . .if God’s existing sans creation is infinitely valuable, then God’s existing with creation will be only infinity plus some finite value. But infinity plus a finite number is still infinity. . .”
    This is what happens when we model infinite value using standard Cantorian infinities. The problem comes up all the time in the context of Pascalian Wagers. But as Roy Sorensen notes in ‘Infinite Decision Theory’, models are just tools. If this particular way of modeling infinite value is not useful, then choose another model. And the Cantorian way of modeling infinite value is not especially useful. J. Howard Sobel says and does something similar in _Logic and Theism_ (chp. 10 & 13). To manage the same sorts of difficulties, he uses non-standard infinimals to represent infinite values. Under this representation, addition and subtraction are well-defined: so for an infinite sum oo, (oo + 1) > oo.
    But you needn’t move to nonstandard math to get an analysis of greater and lesser infinite values. Shelly Kagan and Peter Vallentyne provide an analysis in ‘Infinite Value and Finitely Additive Value Theory’, JP (1997).
    The general idea is that there can be worlds w and w’ in which an infinitely valuable being exists and where the value of w is greater than the value of w’. So there are lots of ways, both standard and nonstandard, of getting the right representation.

    April 9, 2006 — 9:15
  • Mike,
    You write “Of course you could also assume that every world is a good enough world. Now you seem to find this latter assumption not entirely uncongenial. For my part, I find it beyond all credibility. On the face of it, the assumption is ad hoc. There is just no sufficient independent reason motivating such an extreme metaphysical position.”
    I’m not sure what ad hocness means here, but since metaphysical possibility is a *relational* property I don’t see the problem.
    1. God exists in every possible world.
    2. God’s existence is incompatible with P-worlds.
    3. Therefore there are no P-worlds.
    A P-world is a world with some property P which is not compatible with God’s existence. You might think it’s the property of exemplifying gratuitioius evil or mort that 10^13 turps of evil, or being unsatisfactory or whatever. For the property in question I’m more confident of the conjunction nof 1&2 than of 3 so I judge the argument sound. It’s hard for me to see this as ad hoc. I’m a bit more for modal skepticism (a la van Inwagen than “modal ingenuity”. I suspect Russell would agree (not that I care).
    Alan,
    I think I agree with what you say. As I said above I tried several strategies to resist the conclusion (or rather to show that the argument is about something else), but all failed so I think I’m convinced. This makes more attractive to me Swinburne’s account of God’s freedom (another story).
    Also, Mike beat me to recommending the Kagen and Vallentyne piece (I was Vallentyne’s RA during my MA).

    April 9, 2006 — 21:32
  • The late Fr. Herbert McCabe was of the opinion that God is the source of all moral obligation, but is not himself subject to any obligations.
    I find that idea hard to reconcile with certain Biblical notions – I don’t think it makes sense to say that God makes promises, for example, if He is not obliged to keep them. So, I reject the view that God has no obligations. However, in considering this option, I have come to wonder whether we should at least say that the only obligations God has are those He voluntarily took upon himself. There are two underlying intuitions here: that obligations only exist in virtue of certain relationships, and that all of God’s relationships are chosen by God.
    Of course, to spell out these intuitions properly, one would have to consider God’s relationships with himself and the doctrine of the Trinity, which would take us off at a tangent. So let’s consider just God’s relationship to the world.
    I would certainly agree that, once God decides to create a world, then God is obliged to create a satisfactory world, assuming that to be possible. Once God takes a decision to create, then he takes upon himself certain obligations to that creation. However, until that decision is made, why suppose God has any obligation to create?
    There is an obvious analogy: I do not think that there is a general obligation for married couples to produce off-spring (or if you think that there is, you might be willing to admit that there is no general obligation for everyone who could get married and then produce off-spring to do so). However, if a couple decides to produce off-spring, in taking that decision they take upon certain obligations – for example, the obligation not to squander their resources.
    I think its a plausible principle that we can, and do have obligations to beings that will actually exist in the future, and, given our lack of knowledge, we can sometimes be under an obligation to perform actions because of beings who we have good reason to think will actually exist in the future, even though it might turn out that these beings never will exist. In God’s case, he would only have obligations to beings that will actually exist in the future. So, before God decides to create, he can only be said to be obliged to create if this is part of an obligation that he owes to himself, and while I don’t want to rule out such obligations a priori, I’m not confident that God’s obligations to himself are anybody’s business but his.

    April 10, 2006 — 17:07
  • Trent,
    I guess your point is that this argument is valid and so this is pretty much all there is to say on the ad hoc topic. I’m guessing since it is hard to believe that anyone would think this “argument” shows anything close to that.
    1. God exists in every possible world.
    2. God’s existence is incompatible with P-worlds.
    3. Therefore there are no P-worlds.
    For reasons that are painfully obvious, someone might just as reasonably advance the alternative (equally simplistic) argument,
    1. God exists in every possible world.
    2. God’s existence in every world is incompatible with P-worlds unless God lacks a traditional attribute.
    3. :. God does not have all of the traditional attributes.
    I’ll leave as an exercise to show how the same sort of argument (and it really exalts it a bit to call these ‘arguments’) will yield the following conclusions,
    3′. God does not exist in all worlds.
    3”. God is not omniscient.
    3”’. God is not omnipotent.
    3””. God is not essentially perfectly good.
    3””’. God is contingently perfect.
    And so on. There is no better reason to come to your favorite conclusion on the evidence than to come to one of these instead. Of course, I say this on the assumption that we are still doing philosophy of religion and haven’t descended into some theological advocacy (and the minimal standards observable there).
    Alan,
    Let me urge you to read Sobel on Robisonian infinimals and Kagan on infinitely valuable worlds and come to your own conclusions.

    April 10, 2006 — 21:21
  • Mike, obviously one man’s Modus Ponens is another man’s Modus Tollens. What doesn’t follow is:
    “There is no better reason to come to your favorite conclusion on the evidence than to come to one of these instead.”
    As I said, my credence functions flow one way and not the other. This is not because it is my “favorite” conclusion; that reverses the order of explanation. The point was made, as you will no doubt recall, in response to the ad hocness charge, a kind of charge which I find bandied about quite loosely. It’s usually a form of genetic fallacy.
    So when you say
    “I guess your point is that this argument is valid and so this is pretty much all there is to say”
    that is quite mistaken. What I said was:
    “I’m more confident of the conjunction of 1&2 than of 3 so I judge the argument sound.”
    Validity is a pretty boring property. Soundness however is exciting because it entails truth and truth is exciting. My judgement of soundness is based on my credence functions. Those credence functions are formed on the basis of inquiry into evidence. The whole story would be quite long and probably boring even though (I claim) they involve a lot of truth.

    April 13, 2006 — 12:23
  • Trent,
    I see what you’re saying. But don’t you mean that you are more confident in (1) and (2) than in the *denial* of (3)? That is, you’re more sure of the premises that entail (3) than you are that (3) is false. If your credence for (~3) were greater, then you’d have (conclusive) reason to believe the argument was not sound. But you judge the argument to be sound.
    1. God exists in every possible world.
    2. God’s existence is incompatible with P-worlds.
    3. Therefore there are no P-worlds
    So I take you to mean that Cr(1 & 2) > Cr(~3). Of course that holds in many cases where you wouldn’t judge the argument to sound. It might be that Cr(1) = Cr(2) = .4 and Cr(~3) = .1, for instance. The argument is likely to be unsound. But I think that’s a smaller matter. For even if your credence function for (1 & 2) is greater than it is for (~3), your credence function for (1′) and (2′) might be much greater than it is for (3).
    1′. Non-good-enough worlds are possible only if God possibly lacks a traditional attribute.
    2′. Non-good-enough-worlds are possible.
    3′ God possibly lacks a traditional attribute.
    If so, then the evidence for (~3) might be greater (so far forth) than the evidence for (3). That’s why I suggested that we’d have to consider all of these arguments, not just one or two in isolation. But, as you say, that would be a very long story. Anyway, thanks for the clarifications.

    April 13, 2006 — 14:17
  • No problem Mike, I could have been clearer, for I did indeed double negate and there are the exceptions you mention.

    April 15, 2006 — 19:09
  • Tom

    I was hoping this would continue. It’s interesting.
    P1 There is no best possible world.
    P2 (SP) entails the proposition that God must create some possible world and that for any world God creates it cannot be the case that there is a better possible world God could have created.
    P3 For any world God creates there is some better world God could have created (from P1).
    P4 For any world God creates there is no better world (from P2).
    I don’t see how it can be the case that a) there is no best possible world but that b) for any world God creates it must be the case that there is no better possible world, and (b) appears to be entailed in (SP). Trent offers God’s not creating vs God’s creating. But assuming God then must create, what of God’s creating w and God’s creating w1? If (SP) entails the necessity of creating because there are better possible worlds than the world of God’s existing sans creation, then what of (SP) and the choice between possible all other possible worlds God’s has to choose from? Musn’t it be the case that for any world God creates there can be no better possible world God could have created but didn’t? Given your arguments, I think so. But it would follow from this that our world is the best possible world. If there was a better possible world God could have created, he would have (given SP). But here we are.
    It seems that if there is no best possible world, then for any world God creates there will be some better possible world God could have created. And if that’s the case, then there’s no force to the argument that God must create any world at all.
    On the other hand, if there is a best possible world God can create, I’m inclined to agree with Alan that it is not the case that God ‘must’ create it.
    Mike summarizes the Kagan/Vallentyne article with “…there can be worlds w and w’ in which an infinitely valuable being exists and where the value of w is greater than the value of w’.”
    I don’t see a refutation of Alan’s point here (which was Boyd’s thesis re: Hartshorne). Of course the value of w vis-à-vis w1 may be greater. And of course a God of infinite worth and value would prefer w over w1. But this doesn’t mean a God of infinite worth and value would have to create w at all, or any other contingent world. And God’s existing as a being of infinite worth within w and w1 wouldn’t affect this I don’t’ think. Yes there are contingent goods to be had in creating, but depending on how one views God’s own infinite goodness and value, the experience of these contingent goods is relatively meaningless to God.
    This brings up a difficulty (for some at least) to the process idea that God must create. If God has to create, then ‘grace’ is out. Though possible worlds are relatively preferable to God, the relative worth these possible worlds would hold for a God infinite aesthetic satisfaction or triune loving relationality must in an ultimate metaphysical sense be meaningless. That is, in comparison to the infinitely satisfying loving relationality that God is by defintion, all the relative contingencies of possible worlds are ultimately inconsequential to God. Any meaning or satisfaction God finds in creating would be entirely inconsequential to divine aseity. God wouldn’t need to create “so that his goodness may be manifest” even if his creating is untaken to manifest his goodness and love. Such creating may be an unnecessary expression of grace. So there’s no privation of good in God should God alone exist sans creation if God is an infinitely loving relationality. Our loving him doesn’t add to his knowledge of what loving relationality is. Nor do any of the continent evils of this world or that world deprive God of loving relationality since the inner-trinitarian relations are not affected with respect to one another by external occurrences.
    That’s not to say God is impassible or indifferent. It just means that we don’t add to or take away from what defines divine aseity. And if what defines aseity is infinite loving triune sociality (and I’m working this poorly mind you), then any ‘meaning’ or ‘relational satisfaction’ God might find in us must be a) freely and graciously bestowed on us by God, and b) ulimately (in the metaphysical sense) meaningless to God.
    Your friendly neighborhood non-philosopher ;o),
    Tom

    April 20, 2006 — 8:43