Goedel's Property Abstraction and Possibilism

Randoph Rubens Goldman


Gödel’s Ontological argument is distinctive because it is the most sophisticated and formal of ontological arguments and relies heavily on the notion of positive property. Gödel uses a third-order modal logic with a property abstraction operator and property quantification into modal contexts. Gödel describes positive property as "independent of the accidental structure of the world"; "pure attribution," as opposed to privation; "positive in the 'moral aesthetic sense.'" Pure attribution seems likely to be related to the Leibnizian concept of perfection.

By a careful examination of the formal semantics of third-order modal logic with property abstraction together with a Completeness result for third-order modal logic with property abstraction for faithful models that I previously developed in 2000 in my work, Gödel’s Ontological Argument, I argue that it is not possible to develop a sufficient applied third-order modal semantics for Gödel’s ontological argument. As I explore possible approaches for an applied semantics including anti-Realist accounts of the semantics of modal logic compatible with Actualism, I argue that Gödel makes implicit philosophical assumptions which commit him to both possibilism (the belief in merely possible objects) and modal realism (the belief in possible worlds).

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