IInd International God – Oriented Conference

God, Truth and other Enigmas

Warsaw, Staszic Palais (Pałac Staszica), Nowy Swiat 72,

17 – 19. September 2013

organized under auspices of the

Institute of Philosophy and Sociology

at the Polish Academy of Sciences


Chair of Logic, Informatics and Philosophy

of Science, University of Białystok


Staszic Palace, Nowy Swiat 72, Warsaw
The palace was originally classicist in its architecture, built in 1820-1823, and designed by Antonio Corazzi for the Warsaw Society of Friends of Learning. After the dissolution of the Association, the building housed the Academy of Medicine and Surgery and a school for boys. After being rebuilt in 1892-1893 (in a Byzantine-Russian style), it housed the St. Tatiana Roman Orthodox Church. Another overhaul in 1924-1926 restored the palace’s classical appearance. In the interwar period, it housed the Warsaw Scientific Society, the Mianowski Funds Centre, the Meteorological State Institute, the French Institute and the Archaeological Museum. Completely destroyed in 1944, the palace was rebuilt in 1946-1950 and currently acts as the seat of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Warsaw Scientific Society.

The Conference Room: Stanislaus Staszic’s Hall, Nr. 103

Organizing Committee

1. Miroslaw Szatkowski (University of Munich, Germany) – chair
2. Sergio Galvan (Catholic University in Milan, Italy)
3. Zbigniew Król (Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland)
4. Jonathan Kvanvig (Baylor University, USA)
5. Jonathan E. Lowe (Durham University, United Kingdom)
6. Bob Maydole (Professor Emeritus, Davidson College, NC, USA)
7. Uwe Meixner (University of Augsburg, Germany)
8. Roman Murawski (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland)
9. Gabriel Sandu (Université de Paris 1 and University of Helsinki)
10. Kazimierz Trzęsicki (University of Białystok, Poland) 
11. Jan Woleński (Jagiellonian University, Poland)

Keynote Speakers

1. Anthony Anderson, University of California at Santa Barbara, USA

2. Christopher Daly, Manchester University, UK

3. Stamatios Gerogiorgakis, University of Erfurt, Germany

4. John Hawthorne, University of Oxford, UK

5. Christian Kanzian, University of Innsbruck, Austria

6. Srecko Kovac, University of Zagreb, Croatia

7. E. J. Lowe, Duhram University, UK

8. Uwe Meixner, University of Ausburg, Germany

9. Kevin Mulligan, University of Geneva, Switzerland

10. Elisa Paganini, University of Milan, Italy

11. Duncan Pritchard, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

12. Alexander Pruss, Baylor University, USA

13. Gabriel Sandu, Université de Paris and University of Helsinki

14. Scott Shalkowski, University of Leeds, UK

15. Peter Simons, University of Dublin, Ireland

16. Bartłomiej Skowron, University of Wrocław and John Paul II University, Poland

17. Miroslaw Szatkowski, University of Munich, Germany

18. Christian Tapp, University of Bochum, Germany

19. Peter van Inwagen, The University of Notre Dame, USA

20. Jan Woleński, Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland







1. C. Anthony Anderson – Logical Necessity, Conceptual Necessity, and the Ontological Argument

It is argued that the notion of “logical necessity” is obscure in the extreme, but that a concept in the near neighborhood, “conceptual necessity”, is both necessary and sufficient as underlying logic for the Modal Ontological Argument. Formal details are presented which make definite the relationship between metaphysical and conceptual necessity.


2. Christopher Daly – Agnosticism about ontology

Call ‘ontological realism’ the view that ontological issues are intelligible, that they are substantial, and that they are resolvable. An opponent of ontological realism might challenge any of the components. One challenge might accept that many ontological issues are intelligible and substantial, but deny that they are resolvable. According to this challenge, the issues make sense, the positions taken are in genuine disagreement, but evidence and argument cannot settle them. Call this challenge ‘agnosticism about ontology’. Agnosticism about one important ontological issue, namely, material composition, has been defended by Gideon Rosen and Cian Dorr and, independently, by Karen Bennett. I will examine agnosticism about material composition as a case study. To this end, I will evaluate what the agnostics say about three putative sources of support for claims about composition: conceptual analysis, common sense and science. On the basis of this evaluation, I will draw some more general lessons about the prospects for agnosticism about ontology.


3. Stamatios Gerogiorgakis – Gaps, Gluts and God


Peter Milne (2007) takes S: No omniscient being knows that which the sentence S expresses to imply that every omniscient being is a dialetheist. S is a self-referential sentence whose truth value cannot be determined because of infinite regress. If the sentence S is true, then omniscient beings have to know that which the sentence S expresses. But then the sentence S is false. But if the sentence S is false, no omniscient being knows that which S expresses. But this is what the sentence S says. Therefore the sentence S is true etc. Since the sentence S is true and false, omniscient beings should know that which it expresses and do not know the same thing at the same time. Therefore omniscient beings are dialetheists: they know and do not know one and the same thing at the same time. I.e. the truth-value of the sentence S is a truth-value glut. By contrast to Milne, I shall argue that omniscient beings should not be assumed to know or not to know more than what is there to be known or not to be known on a matter. Especially, omniscient beings should not be supposed to know or not to know that which S expresses, since S is a sentence whose truth value cannot be determined. I.e. I shall argue that the truth value of S is a truth-value gap. Reference Milne, P. 2007. Omniscient beings are dialetheists. Analysis 67: 250-1.


4. Peter van Invagen – Nothing Is Impossible

This paper considers three arguments for the impossibility of there being nothing at all. More precisely, it considers three arguments for the conclusion that if it is possible for there to be something, then it is impossible for there to be nothing. The arguments are valid in S5, and have as a premise a proposition that plays a role analogous to the role the Principle of Sufficient Reason plays in some versions of the cosmological argument. This principle, however, is considerably weaker than any principle that has ever been called the Principle of Sufficient Reason. The common conclusion of the arguments, moreover, is weaker than the conclusion of the cosmological argument – that is, that a necessary being exists. Their conclusion is rather the thesis that (given that it is possible for something to exist) either a necessary being exists or (inclusive) it is a necessary truth that contingent beings exist. The paper closes with a meditation on the question of the relevance of the three arguments to the conviction of some metaphysicians that the fact that there is something (and not, rather, nothing) is a “mystery.”


5. Christian Kanzian – Existential Dependence and Other Formal Relations

Formal relations, like identity, constitution, composition, are indis-pensable elements of every ontological theory, even if they are not considered explicitly in the most ontologies. In my talk I will deal with dependence as such a formal relation; especially with existential dependence. What is it? What characterizes existential dependence amongst the other kinds of dependence, and amongst other formal relations? Why do we need it? – Existential dependence has different functions in categorical ontology (not only within those theories which assume substances as basic entities); and can also be used to reflect on the relation between God and his creation. That is why the truth about it should not remain in the sphere of philosophical enigmas.


6. Srecko Kovac – Logic and Truth in Religious Belief

We describe faith as a pragmatic function that choses or builds models for the use in understanding religious truth. To this end, we first analyze and compare the ways of coming to religious truth in two episodes from John’s Gospel – the first about Nicodemus (John 3), the second about a Samaritan woman (John 4). In the first case, an ordinary (“materialistic”) model of understanding is directly confronted with another, religious model. In the second case, we see how an ordinary model of understanding is being gradually changed to the religious one, in particular by the use of logic and inference. We analyze singular steps of this change from the logical point of view. We apply justification logic tools to interiorize and formalize the confrontation of the two models and the change from one to the other.


7. Anna Lemańska – Absolute truth and mathematics

In the contemporary Western European culture there has been adopted a relativistic view on values. One of them is truth, which lost its absolute character, and changed from the objective, universal point of reference into one of goods, subject to market rules. The quest for truth no longer matters, because any view can be regarded to be true by someone. Thus we witness the postmodern crisis of absolute truth. I will try to show that such a pessimistic picture of truth is not a full one. Absolute true statements do exist. We find them, for example, in mathematics. To demonstrate this I will analyse the following five mathematical theorems: (1) The Continuum Hypothesis; (2) Euclid’s Fifth Postulate; (3) 2 + 2 = 4. (4) Fermat’s Last Theorem; (5) Goldbach’s Conjecture. I maintain that truth of the third sentence is absolute in character, because it doesn’t depend on any formal system, or any conditions external to mathematics, like culture. If we are able to present absolutely true mathematical theorems, then those who take a relativistic view of truth must be wrong.


8. E. J. Lowe – Naturalism, Theism, and Objects of Reason

In this paper, I argue that theism is better equipped than philosophical naturalism to explain the existence and nature of ‘objects of reason’, that is, abstract objects such as numbers, sets, and propositions, to which even the philosophical naturalist seems to be ontologically committed, in virtue of the indispensable role that such objects play in our best confirmed scientific theories. I argue that the existence, nature and cognitive accessibility of such objects are best explained by taking them to be essentially mind-dependent entities, but also that their ontological status as necessary beings requires us to regard them as ontologically dependent upon a mind that is likewise a necessary being, and moreover one of such immense intellectual capacity that it can comprehend all logico-mathematical truths – in short, an infinite, ‘divine’ mind.


9. Uwe Meixner – Six Arguments against Physicalism

First, the paper specifies and defends a certain conception of physicalism. (That is: it defends the view that the conception specified is the right conception, not that it is true.) Then the paper proceeds to the presentation and justification of six arguments against physicalism (as specified): the two Cartesian modal arguments, the Chalmers-Descartes modal argument, the causal argument, the argument from illusion, and the argument from perspective.


10. Elisa Paganini – Vagueness and Omniscience

We commonly recognize vague predicates when we do not find boundaries to their extension. Would an omniscient being find it equally impossible to establish such boundaries? If an epistemic theory of vagueness is correct, the answer will be ‘no’: the omniscient being will find a precise boundary to the extension of a vague predicate and she will say of each object, whether it belongs to the extension of the vague predicate or not. I will argue that if, instead, a semantic theory of vagueness is correct, we cannot answer the question. The reason is that, under this assumption, there is no cooperative way for the omniscient being to say of each object whether it belongs to the extension of the vague predicate or not.



11. Marek Piwowarczyk – On the Truthmaker Theory of Divine Simplicity

The truthmaker theory of divine simplicity was proposed by Jeffrey E. Brower and Michael Bergmann in order to avoid the highly unwelcome thesis that God is a property. The thesis seems to be a consequence of the doctrine of divine simplicity and especially of the claim that God is identical to all of His attributes. Given transitivity of identity, these properties are identical to each other so God seems to be one single property. Of course this conclusion is based on the assumption that propositions of the type “a is F” should be analyzed in terms of exemplification of a property. Brower and Bergmann give different framework for analysis of predication (just in terms of truthmakers) and they think this analysis does not entail the reduction of God to a property. In my talk I want to examine this theory and particularly the objection stated against it by William Vallicella. He claims that the theory “proves too much” and entails that all entities are ontologically simple at least in respect to their essential features. Yet I analyze all these issues in more complicated context of essential predication, using Aristotelian categories of ti einai and poion einai or in other words of kath hauto predication and kata symbebekon predication. I also want to show that the truthmaker theory of divine simplicity leads to purely negative theory of God.


12. Alexander Pruss – The Divine Belief Theory of Truth: Might It Work?

I defend the theory that what makes a proposition true is simply that the perfect being believes it against a number of objections, most importantly an analogue of the Euthyphro objection to Divine Command Theory.


13. Peter Simons – Makers and Models: Two Approaches to Truth, and their Merger

A semantic account of truth along the lines initiated by Alfred Tarski has a number of advantages that render it theoretically attractive. One is that it becomes possible to use the same methods and materials to define both truth and logical consequence. On the other hand the theory comes at a price. One element is that the ontological cost of deploying the tools required to define truth render it unacceptable to those of a non-Platonist persuasion, something of which Tarski was only too painfully aware. Another element is that it is not clear how the Tarskian method of delimiting the true from the false connects with the intuitive notion of truth as answering in some way to the way things are in the world. It was for this reason among others that the modern theory of truth-making was initiated. Truth-making, whatever form the correct theory may take, for its part eschews the idea that truth-makers should be in general epistemically and semantically transparent to the user of the idiom whose truth-bearers are thereby rendered true. There thus appears to be a radical disconnect between the model-theoretic approach to truth and the truth-making account, so that they might as well be about different things. This paper will attempt to bring the two approaches together, show how they interact and complement one another, and can be deployed together to provide a nominalistically acceptable account of truth and consequence.


14. Scott Shalkowski – God and Necessity

Brian Leftow has recently argued for a theistic modal theory, according to which God and divine mental events replace the usual suspects for providing the foundations of modality. In this paper I will examine Leftow’s account and compare it with Lewis’s Genuine Modal Realism, arguing that when the same criteria of theory choice are used, Leftow’s does not suffer by comparison. I will end by arguing that the usual grounds for choosing among such theories are themselves suspect and in the end provide the wrong kinds of grounds for choosing philosophical theories.


15. Bartłomiej Skowron – The Topological Properties of God

The paper discusses the problem of explanatory power of topology in the Christian theology. In particular the analysis is focused on the issue of comparing God to a topological space. If it is assumed that God is a topological space, then one can consider the attributes of God by means of topological tools. In this way the property of unity of God is analysed. Topological modelling of the unity of God can be carried out in many ways; for ex ample – as it is proposed in the paper – by means of topological concepts such as connectedness and compactness (and variants of those). The paper also investigates the reasonableness of the mathematical treatment of theological problems. It is argued that the mathematical modelling in theology may lead to a better understanding of God and other theological issues.


16. Mirosław Szatkowski – Adding a `temporal’ and `knowledge of truths’ dimension to Anderson-like ontological proofs

Some philosophers consider the theistic belief in the existence of an omniscient God incorrect. Their argument is that the claim that God knows all truths assumes that there is a set of all truths, which is inconsistent with Cantor’s Theorem, according to which there can be no such set. In this paper, we propose some extensions of Anderson-like ontological proofs and their semantics to form such theories and semantics with which it is possible to consistently convey God’s omniscience.


17. Christian Tapp – Divine uniqueness in Anselm’s Monologion

While the question for the existence of God is intensely discussed in philosophy of religion, divine uniqueness is not, although both, existence and uniqueness, are conditions for introducing „God“ as an individual name in theoretical regulated languages that hold to scientific standards. In the Middle Ages, arguments for divine uniqueness (or „unity“) were standard. In this talk, I will analyse a particular argument from St. Anselm’s Monologion. A pivotal role for this particular argument is played by the relation „esse per“ („to be in virtue of“). The overall reconstruction of this argument is a non-trivial application of the theoretical principle of „deliberative equilibrium“, because one has to decide between staying nearer to the surface of the original text (thereby accepting argumentative gaps) and reading the argument more freely (thereby providing it more argumentative power).


18. Jan Woleński – God and Good: Does God’s Existence Implies that Something is Good?

According to medieval theory of transcendentals (overcategorical concepts) being and good are co-extensive. It means that x is a being if and only if x is good. Consequently being implies goodness and reversely. Hence, because God is a being, it implies that God is good. Therefore, there is something, which is good. However, such an answer for the title question is too trivial. In fact, theologians and philosophers are more interested whether God’s existence entails that there is a being which is god and different from God. One possible answer is that since God created the world (different beings than God himself) and the world is being, then the world is good. Yet this answer is problematic, because we observe the Evil, that is, wrong objects. Now, if on distinguishes metaphysical goodness and ethical goodness, the consequence of the transcendentals is restricted to the former goodness, assuming that existence (having the status of a being) is better than non-existemce. Yet metaphysical considerations are of a limited importance for ethical goodness. On the other hand, here is an opinion (Kant, Dostojevski) that no morality is legitimate without assuming that God exists. It is expressed by a famous phrase in Brothers Karamazov that if God does not exist, everything is permitted (moral anarchism). In fact, we can replace this conditional by the equivalence: (*) everything is permitted if and only if God does not exist. Now, (*) can be transformed into (**) something is obligatory if and only if Go exists. In particular, the statement that God exists implies that something is obligatory. However, the consequent of this last conditional is normative, but its antecedent not. Hence, this inference violates the Hume principle that is-sentences cannot logically imply ought-sentences. Although (*) concerns duties or obligations, it is also relevant for goodness. The Hume principle can be extended to value sentences. If so, God’s existence does not imply that something is good, even God himself. In order to argue that ethics must assume God’s existence, one should offer much stronger arguments.