God and Necessity

God and Necessity

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Brian Leftow offers a theory of the possible and the necessary in which God plays the chief role, and a new sort of argument for God's existence. It has become usual to say that a proposition is possible just in case it is true in some 'possible world' (roughly, some complete history a universe might have) and necessary just if it is true in all. Thus much discussion of possibility and necessity since the 1960s has focussed on the nature and existence (or not) of
possible worlds. God and Necessity holds that there are no such things, nor any sort of abstract entity. It assigns the metaphysical 'work' such items usually do to God and events in God's mind, and reduces 'broadly logical' modalities to causal modalities, replacing possible worlds in the semantics
of modal logic with God and His mental events. Leftow argues that theists are committed to theist modal theories, and that the merits of a theist modal theory provide an argument for God's existence. Historically, almost all theist modal theories base all necessary truth on God's nature. Leftow disagrees: he argues that necessary truths about possible creatures and kinds of creatures are due ultimately to God's unconstrained imagination and choice. On his theory, it is in no sense part of the
nature of God that normal zebras have stripes (if that is a necessary truth). Stripy zebras are simply things God thought up, and they have the nature they do simply because that is how God thought of them. Thus Leftow's essay in metaphysics takes a half-step toward Descartes' view of modal truth, and
presents a compelling theist theory of necessity and possibility.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 588 pages
  • 167 x 243 x 37mm | 1,004g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0199263353
  • 9780199263356
  • 1,499,233

Table of contents

Introduction ; 1. Modal Basics ; 2. Some Solutions ; 3. Theist Solutions ; 4. The Ontology of Possibility ; 5. Modal Truthmakers ; 6. Modality and the Divine Nature ; 7. Deity as Essential ; 8. Against Deity Theories ; 9. The Role of Deity ; 10. The Biggest Bang ; 11. Divine Concepts ; 12. Concepts, Syntax, and Actualism ; 13. Modality: Basic Notions ; 14. The Genesis of Secular Modality ; 15. Modal Reality ; 16. Essences ; 17. Non-Secular Modalities ; 18. Theism and Modal Semantics ; 19. Freedom, Preference, and Cost ; 20. Explaining Modal Status ; 21. Explaining the Necessary ; 22. Against Theistic Platonism ; 23. Worlds and the Existence of God ; Bibliography ; Index
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Review quote

This book should be read carefully and thoroughly. It contains an enormous number of challenging ideas and arguments, far more than I can mention in a short review. Defenders of deity theory and theistic defenders of an independent space of possibility will certainly have to engage the counterarguments presented in this book. * Michael Almeida, The Philosophical Quarterly * it provides a rigorous, rich, and detailed discussion of a problem that many (and not just analytic philosophers) will find puzzling. * Graham Oppy, Times Literary Supplement * Philosophers would do well to take seriously Leftows theory and arguments in both philosophy and theology. Forging an account that is unique while still being inclusive of some elements of historical forerunners, Leftows approach is analytically rigorous and historically aware. * Benjamin W. McCraw, Ratio *
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About Brian Leftow

Brian Leftow has been the Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion in the University of Oxford since 2002, and a Fellow of Oriel College since 2003. Previously he taught at Fordham University (Bronx, NY). He is the author of Time and Eternity (Cornell University Press, 1991), Aquinas on Metaphysics (OUP, forthcoming) and numerous articles in philosophy of religion, medieval philosophy and metaphysics.
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