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The Ontological Argument

Duration:
43 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 27 September 2012

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Ontological Argument. In the eleventh century St Anselm of Canterbury proposed that it was possible to prove the existence of God using reason alone. His argument was ridiculed by some of his contemporaries, but was analysed and improved by later thinkers including Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz. Other philosophers have been less kind, with the Enlightenment thinker David Hume offering one possible refutation. But the debate continued, fuelled by interventions from such heavyweights as Immanuel Kant and Kurt Gödel; and it remains one of the most discussed problems in philosophy.

With:

John Haldane
Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews

Peter Millican
Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oxford

Clare Carlisle
Lecturer in Philosophy of Religion at King's College London

Producer: Thomas Morris.

  • FURTHER READING

    Anselm (trans. Thomas Williams), ‘Proslogion with the Replies of Gaunilo and Anselm’ (Hackett Publishing Co., 2001)

    Descartes (trans. John Cottingham), ‘Meditations’ (Cambridge University Press, 1996)

    Daniel Dombrowski, ‘Rethinking the Ontological Argument: A Neoclassical Theistic Response’ (Cambridge University Press, 2005)

    John Haldane, ‘Reasonable Faith’ (Routledge, 2010)

    Adrian Hastings, Alistair Mason and Hugh Pyper (eds.), ‘The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought’ (Oxford University Press, 2000), particularly Peter Millican, ‘The Ontological Argument’

    John Hick and Arthur McGill (eds.), ‘The Many-Faced Argument: Recent Studies on the Ontological Argument for the Existence of God’ (Wipf & Stock, 2009)

    Peter Millican, ‘The Devil’s Advocate’, Cogito 3 (1989), pp. 193-207

    Peter Millican, ‘The One Fatal Flaw in Anselm’s Argument’ in Mind 113 (2004), pp. 437-76

    Peter Millican, ‘Ontological Arguments and the Superiority of Existence’ in Mind 116 (2007), pp. 1041-53

    Graham Oppy, ‘Ontological Arguments and Belief in God’ (Cambridge University Press, 2007)

    Alvin Plantinga (ed.), ‘The Ontological Argument’ (Doubleday, 1965)

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