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What is Maximal Greatness?



When it comes to Plantinga's Modal Ontological Argument, it is extremely important to understand that we are talking about whether or not it is possible for an entity to be Maximally Great and what it means for an entity to be Maximally Great. Here's Plantinga's argument:


  1. It is possible that a maximally great being exists (in other words, maximal greatness is possibly exemplified).

  2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.

  3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world then it exists in every possible world.

  4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world then it exists in the actual world.

  5. If a maximally great being exists in the actual world then a maximally great being exists.

  6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.


The key premise in this argument is the first premise. It is either possible or impossible for Maximal Greatness to be exemplified. But what is "Maximal Greatness"?


To better understand "Maximal Greatness" it might be helpful to distinguish it from "Maximal Excellence".


- An entity possesses “Maximal Excellence” if and only if it is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect.

- An entity possesses “Maximal Greatness” if and only if it possesses Maximal Excellence in every possible world.


On this model, one could argue that an entity could possess Maximal Excellence but fail to be Maximally Great if the entity failed to inhabit even one possible world.


Therefore, the main focus of Maximal Greatness (and by extension Plantinga's argument) is the number of possible worlds an entity inhabits.


On this model, it is claimed that an entity that inhabits two possible worlds is greater than an entity that inhabits one possible world. Which, to me, seems plausible. After all, 2 is greater than 1. But is it possible for an entity to inhabit more than one possible world?


On the face of it, it again seems plausible. For example, if we believe that we could've done some action in our past differently, then we believe that there is a non-actual possible world that is different from the actual world that we inhabit. So, there are at least two possible worlds that we inhabit.


1. The actual possible world where we performed our action.

and

2. The non-actual possible world where we performed a different action.


So, it at least seems possible for an entity to inhabit multiple possible worlds and that an entity's greatness increases with number of possible worlds it inhabits. But can an entity inhabit every possible world?


It seems that entities can inhabit worlds as long as there's nothing about the world that would prevent them from inhabiting it. What would be able to prevent an omnipotent entity from inhabiting some world? Can an omnipotent entity be actualized by something else within some possible world? What kind of entities are able to be omnipotent? What does it even mean to be omnipotent?


These are really important questions.

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