Quantum Modal Realism and a "Victorious" Ontological Argument for Naturalism

Rough draft.

One can run a minimal modal ontological argument for naturalism with just two simple premises:  

1. Possibly, a necessarily existent natural universe exists.

2. What's necessary doesn't vary from possible world to possible world.

3. Therefore, there is a necessarily existent natural universe.

(2) follows from Axiom S5 of S5 modal logic, and most philosophers accept S5, so it's fairly uncontroversial. So the argument comes down to the plausibility of (1). 

But (1) is plausible as well. For the most plausible interpretation of quantum mechanics is arguably the Everettian interpretation, and as Alastair Wilson has recently argued, one can provide a plausible naturalistic account of modality in terms of Everettian quantum mechanics, which he dubs quantum modal realism (QMR). Roughly: a possible world is a branch of the universal wave function; something is possible just in case it exists in at least one branch of the wave function; and something is necessary just in case it exists in every branch of the wave function. Finally, because the empirical evidence underdetermines whether the decohering branches of the wave function share an initial segment (the overlapping interpretation) or have qualitatively identical yet numerically distinct initial segments (the diverging interpretation), de re modality can be spelled out either in terms of transworld identity (which corresponds to the overlapping interpretation) or in terms of counterpart theory, according to which individuals are worldbound (which corresponds to the diverging interpretation). So in light of the machinery of QMR, (1) asserts that it is true within at least one branch of the wavefunction that the natural universe exists in every branch of the wave function (which is true in our branch, and of course in every branch), where the de re modal properties of the natural universe are given either an overlapping, transworld identity gloss or a diverging, worldbound/counterpart-theoretic gloss.

Furthermore, (1) seems more plausible than the theistic possibility premise in the corresponding modal ontological argument for theism. For the truth of the latter premise requires acceptance of the compossibility of a large swath of exotic properties, such as omnipotence, omniscience, moral perfection, immateriality, and the capacity for creating individuals and/or stuffs out of nothing. Therefore, it appears that one has more reason to accept the minimal modal ontological argument for naturalism than the standard modal ontological argument for theism.

A Minimal Modal Ontological Argument for Naturalism

One can run a minimal modal ontological argument for naturalism with just two simple premises:  

1. Possibly, there is a necessarily existent extended thing (i.e., the two properties are compossible).

2. What's necessary doesn't vary from possible world to possible world.

3. Therefore, there is a necessarily existent essentially extended thing.

(2) follows from Axiom S5 of S5 modal logic, and most philosophers accept S5, so it's fairly uncontroversial. So the argument comes down to the plausibility of (1). But (1) just says that necessary existence and extension are compossible properties, which seems more plausible than the theistic possibility premise in the corresponding modal ontological argument for theism. For the truth of the latter premise requires acceptance of the compossibility of a large swath of exotic properties, such as omnipotence, omniscience, moral perfection, immateriality, and the capacity for creating individuals and/or stuffs out of nothing. Therefore, it appears that one has more reason to accept the minimal modal ontological argument for naturalism than the standard modal ontological argument for theism.

A Modal Ontological Argument for Spinozistic Naturalism

Rough draft: 

Here's another argument to add to the list:

Consider the following argument for a version of Spinozistic naturalism:

1. It's possible that there is a being who has all perfections essentially.

2. Infinite thought, infinite extension, and necessary existence are perfections.

3. Therefore, it's possible that there is a being who has necessary existence, infinite thought, and infinite extension essentially.

4. What's possible doesn't vary from possible world to possible world.

5. Therefore, a being who has infinite thought and infinite extension essentially actually exists.

This argument is better than the standard modal ontological argument for theism, since the theistic God lacks extension, and Spinoza seems to be correct in thinking that infinite extension is a perfection. At the very least, infinite extension seems to have at least as much going for it as the attributes of the god of theism. Therefore, at the very least, one has at least as much reason to accept the above argument for Spinozistic naturalism as the standard modal ontological argument for theism.

The Problem of Divine Achievement

John Pittard's new paper points to another argument against theism: the problem of divine achievement. In rough terms, the argument is that being worthy of agential praise requires achieving something that is creditworthy. But achieving something that is creditworthy requires doing something that one finds difficult. But if classical theism is true, then none of God's actions are difficult for God. And if not, then none of God's actions are creditworthy, in which case none of God's actions are worthy of agential praise. (Pittard argues that the problem can be avoided, but he admits that it can't be done without incurring some costs.) It seems to me that the problem of divine achievement is another significant problem for classical theism. The list keeps growing.

Review of Ekstrom's <i>God, Suffering, and the Value of Free Will</i>

  Kevin Timpe reviews the book for NDPR .