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Philosophy/Type of argument


What type of argument, or is there a category, or name for this type of argument: If God is all powerful, can he create a stone so heavy that he cannot lift it?  Or if the claim is he cannot die, then being all powerful can he kill himself?

There really isn't a name for this, because it's not an argument, it's two questions. A  is not an argument.

As to the issues themselves: since around 1900, Anglo-American philosophy has concentrated on understanding the aspects of language that lead to questions like this. One of the insights is that because we can pose a question, that doesn't mean that there is an answer. Another is that words do not necessarily "hook up"; it's no problem that the language contains both "all-powerful", heavy, etc.

The upshot of all of that is that the questions look like they make sense, but don't. Simply stringing the words "so heavy He cannot lift it" and "all-powerful" does not necessarily generate a question that makes sense.

There is some very recent, very advanced work that suggest that our notion of "truth" needs to be tweaked to exclude the attempt to answer questions,

Hope this helps.



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Charles K. MacKay


I can answer a number of questions in philosophy; my academic concentrations (graduate school at Cornell) are ethics, political philosophy, and 19th-century German philosophy (Marx, Hegel, and hangers-on.)



BA, New College, 1971, Philosophy and Religion
Awarded four graduate fellowships upon graduation

MA, Cornell University, 1974
Social and Political Philosophy, Danforth Fellowship

All course work and dissertation drafts completed for Ph.D. Cornell University, 1971-1975, Social and Political Philosophy, Danforth Fellowship

Courses in statistics and microeconomics, George Washington University and The American University, 1976-1978

EXPERIENCE: Health Insurance Specialist 2005 - Present
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service
US Department of Health and Human Services

Allentown Business School Instructor (Computer Science) 2003 - 2005

Northampton Community College
Adjunct Professor of Philosophy 2003 -2005

Lehigh County Community College
Adjunct Professor of Philosophy and Computer Science


Medicare Made Easy (with Charles B. Inlander) Addison-Wesley, 1989

Good Operations, Bad Operations (with Charles B. Inlander) Viking Press, 1993

Health Rebooted: Information Changes Everything (in press), 2008

Bachelor of Arts, Philosphy and Religion, New College, 1971 Master of Arts, Social and Political Philosophy, Cornell University, 1975

Awards and Honors
Danforth Fellowship, Woodrow Wilson Fellowship

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