Short Necessary Being Quiz

Skeptical of whether there is a concrete necessary being?  Take this quick quiz put together by Joshua Rasmussen to find out whether you are committed to such a belief  [H/T Czar Bernstein].

Don’t worry, you won’t be graded!

Oh, and let me know of your results via comments.  Did the quiz change your position?  If not, why not?

Start here: The Necessary Being Interactive Survey

Posted on August 8, 2012, in News and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I wasn’t surprised that my own beliefs commit me to belief in necessary concreta. I attempted it in a more skeptical mode, and was surprised to find that skeptical-me was still committed to it. It was only when I pretended to be a pyrrhonian that I escaped the conclusion. But who wants to be a pyrrhonian?

  2. Took the quiz. It didn’t change my mind. I find premise 4 to 5 illogical, at least on my answer. Also, to say that a necessary being exists doesn’t mean that this being is God. This could easily be shown that Spinoza’s substance exists. Also, I believe that this form of logic is equivocating the word “possible.”

    • Hey Shaun,

      Based on what you said, I’m guessing that you were told that your answers or a sub-set of answers reveals that your are committed to necessary concreta. It generates different arguments depending on your answers, so I’m not sure which (4) and (5) you received.

      As for whether it is God, I completely agree. One could be an atheist and accept the existence of necessary concreta. Spinoza seemed to think his infinite substance was god-like (whether he was right is debatable), but one might imagine a necessary concreta that lacks several of the necessary attributes by which something would qualify as divine. Nonetheless, accepting the existence of necessary concreta is, I would say, strongly compatible with theism–perhaps even more probable on theism than on something like naturalism. And if a person rejects the existence of God because he or she believes only in contingent concreta, a quiz like this might make him/her pause.

      I think your worry about equivocating over “possible” is well-founded. Though I think it is intended to reveal your belief commitments, so perhaps it’s okay.

  3. Necessary Being

    If there appears to be an equivocation over a term (such as ‘possible’), will you e-mail me the text where you think this occurs (at I’d like to weed out any and all potential ambiguities. BTW: the meaning of ‘possible’ is specified in a link at the beginning of the survey here:
    None of the reviewers so far have identified an ambiguity, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t miss something.

  4. Necessary Being,

    Thanks for replying to our comments. This blog is somewhat backwater, so it is an honor to have the originator of the survey respond here.

    I do not speak for Shaun, but my worry is not so much with the use of “possibly”. You have taken great pains to univocally define “possibly” throughout the argument. Furthermore, you’ve provided the option of answering “I can’t say”. So, if a person is attentive, she should answer “I can’t say” if she is only compelled to say that a proposition is conceivably true but does not know whether or not it “doesn’t contradict anything that is necessary”.

    My worry is with regard to the other option choices, i.e. “It seems so” and “It seems not”. If I say that something “seems so”, I usually mean that it is prima facie conceivable. In other words, if I say “It seems that it is possible that a necessary being exists”, we cannot infer that a necessary being exists. Rather, I am saying that I do find such a possibility conceivable. So, in using my answers in the argument, I think it only reveals those beliefs to which I am committed. So ultimately I think Shaun’s worry is mitigated. I don’t think the survey is intended to prove anything beyond what we ought to be committed to if we are to hold a coherent set of beliefs.

    I do think it would help the survey if there were a blurb explaining the answer options, and why they are worded in the way they are worded.

  5. Necessary Being

    Thanks. I’ll consider giving further explanations.

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