Is There a Shallow Logical Refutation of the Ontological Argument?

Yujin Nagasawa


The beauty of Anselm’s ontological argument is, I believe, that no matter how one approaches it, one cannot refute it without making a significant metaphysical assumption, one that is likely to be contentious in its own right. Peter Millican (2004, 2007) disagrees. He introduces an objection according to which one can refute the argument merely by analysing its shallow logical details, without making any significant metaphysical assumption. He maintains, moreover, that his objection does not depend on a specific reading of the relevant Anselmian text; in fact, Millican claims that his objection is applicable to every version of the ontological argument. In this paper, I argue that millican’s objection does not succeed, because, contrary to what he says, in order to justify his objection he does have to make a deep metaphysical assumption and rely on a specific reading of Anselm’s text.

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