A Computationally-Discovered Simplification of the Ontological Argument


Paul E. Oppenheimer and Edward N. Zalta


Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 89/2 (June 2011): 333–349.


The authors investigate the ontological argument computationally. The premises and conclusion of the argument are represented in the syntax understood by the automated reasoning engine PROVER9. Using the logic of definite descriptions, the authors developed a valid representation of the argument that required three non-logical premises. PROVER9, however, discovered a simpler valid argument for God's existence from a single non-logical premise. Reducing the argument to one non-logical premise brings the investigation of the soundness of the argument into better focus. Also, the simpler representation of the argument brings out clearly how the ontological argument constitutes an early example of a ‘diagonal argument’ and, moreover, one used to establish a positive conclusion rather than a paradox.

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