Sunday, July 15, 2012

Argument for God from Justice

1. Justice is an objective moral value.

2. Whatever is an objective moral value is so in all possible worlds.

3. If some morally evil act X goes unpunished or is not rectified, then justice has not been served for X.

4. If there is no God, then there are possibly some X's that go unpunished (justice is not served).

5. If justice is not served for X, then there is a possible world in which justice is not served.

6. Whatever is necessarily-construed that fails to exist in at least one possible world exists in none of them.

7. But justice is possibly exemplified (i.e., there is some possible world in which justice exists).

8. Therefore, justice is served for X (from [5, 7]).

9. Therefore, God exists (from [4, 8]).

The first premise should be accepted except in the case one denies objective moral values. The second premise may sound controversial, but it makes complete sense (at least it does to me) when one considers that these objective moral values are so independently of (created) persons, and hence it seems they are true across all possible worlds. (3) is virtually definitional for "justice." With (4), by "God" we mean the locus of objective moral values. In any case, it should only be denied in the case that one thinks if there were no God, it would still be the case that it is impossible for any X's to go unpunished.

Now the astute reader will note that (5) seems to rely on the idea that there is a possible world such that all of the X's are unpunished, something that seems to be at odds with (1-2). So really we have a reductio. One may deny (5) by insisting that any such world, even ones with only one X that goes unpunished, is impossible. But on the absence of God (or a God-type being) this seems highly implausible. What accounts for X's being rectified or punished so as to render its lack of punishment logically impossible? It seems nothing. Moreover, in light of (4), there are probably many, if not virtually all, X's that can avoid justice. What would make it the case that X, being possibly unpunished, suddenly becomes not-possibly unpunished in some other world? I think we actually have reason to think (5) is true in the absence of these cases.

(6) is definitional to necessary truths and so cannot be denied. (7) should only be denied if one is convinced objective moral values are necessarily false. (8-9) are conclusions and hence cannot be denied on their own. What do you all think? Does this argument from justice succeed, or fail? Are there better versions (there probably are)? Let me know!
All posts, and the blog Possible Worlds, are the sole intellectual property of Randy Everist. One may reprint part or all of this post so long as: a) full attribution is given (Randy Everist, Possible Worlds), b) all use is non-commercial, and c) one is in compliance with the Creative Commons license at the bottom on the main page of this blog.


  1. Aside from other problems I have with the arguments you laid out in your syllogism, I want to point out that arguments do not constitute evidence, much less 'proof.' I can write a similar argument to demonstrate that all blue ponies speak Castilian on the Thursday before Lent. What it really comes down to is the strength of your premises which, for empirical claims, is empirical evidence.

    So here's the challenge I want to propose: is there anything else we can - or have - demonstrated or at least established sufficient evidence for by using this kind of argumentation?

  2. Hi Michael, thank you for commenting!

    I suppose I am somewhat baffled by your response, for at least two reasons: 1) I gained the impression that you think one or more of the premises are wrong, but you do not say which one(s), and 2) I gained the impression you believe deductive arguments are at least suspect (if not downright invalid). I can't help you with (1), but with (2), suffice it to say plenty of things can be proven with deductive argumentation, and have been (All men are mortal, Socrates is a man, Socrates is mortal; If I have fewer than 20 rocks in my pocket, then it is false I have 55. I have fewer than 20 rocks in my pocket. It is false I have 55.)

    With regards to empiricism, these premises are mostly (if not all) based on abstract reasoning based on rational intuition (for instance, I don't even know what it means to say we've observed premise 3, nonetheless it is definitional). Hope that helps!


Please remember to see the comment guidelines if you are unfamiliar with them. God bless and thanks for dropping by!