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Ontological Arguments and Belief in God Hardcover – January 26, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0521481205 ISBN-10: 0521481201

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (January 26, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521481201
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521481205
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,889,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"It is at once a virtue and challenge of this book that we are presented with meticulous reconstructions of historical forms of the argument, together with variations and objections (and often objections to the objections) that are both amazing and intimidating in their thoroughness....In addition to the main text, the book contains an appendix of some 130 pages, in which O. surveys virtually every significant discussion of the various forms of the ontological argument in the recent literature." Theological Studies

"...since belief in God is the starting point of all western religious belief, this topic is indeed important....the book succeeds in that it is informative and useful." Canadian Catholic Review

"This book performs the remarkable, well neigh impossible, feat of critically examining virtually everything that has been published in English on this argument, and it also covers related issues on existence and is an indispensable source of reference and stimulation for anyone working on these issues." Philosophy

"...his book is impressive. Its chief merit lies in its bibliographical references, which will prove invaluable to anyone attempting research on ontological arguments....Oppy is also to be congratulated for his own lively contribution to debates on ontological arguments." Brian Davies, O.P., Anglican Theological Review

"...this book is a testament to how intradisciplinary Phliosophy has become. For this reason alone everyone should read this book." Billy Joe Lucas, International Journal for Philosophy of Religion

"This makes the book enoromously helpful to anyone wanting to do serious work on this controversial argument....religious studies programs should have this book." Religious Studies Review

"Because of the wide range of literature Oppy engages, the seriousness with which he treats it, and teh wealth of detailed positions he takes and defends, anyone interested in ontological arguments will want to study this book." Edward Wierenga, Review of Metaphysics

Book Description

This book is a unique contribution to the philosophy of religion. It offers a comprehensive discussion of one of the most famous arguments for the existence of God: the ontological argument. The author provides and analyses a critical taxonomy of those versions of the argument that have been advanced in recent philosophical literature, as well as of those historically important versions found in the work of St. Anselm, Descartes,Leibniz, Hegel and others.

More About the Author

I am currently Associate Dean Research and Associate Dean Graduate Studies in the Faculty of Arts at Monash University. (I've been Associate Dean Research since 2004; I've taken on the Associate Dean Graduate Studies role in 2007 on a strictly one-year term.)

I was previously Head of the School of Philosophy and Bioethics at Monash (from 2001 through 2004).

I came to Monash in mid-1996 as a Senior Lecturer; I was promoted to Professor in 2005.

From 1993 to mid-1996, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Philosophy Program in the Research School for the Social Sciences at the Australian National University in Canberra.

From mid-1990 through 1992, I was a Lecturer at the University of Wollongong (no, not Wolloomooloo).

Between 1987 and 1990, I was a graduate student in philosophy at Princeton University. My dissertation advisor was Gil Harman; my dissertation was about questions in the philosophy of language.

From 1979 through 1986, I was an undergraduate student at Melbourne University. I completed two degrees: a BA with a major in philosophy; and a B.Sc with a major in mathematics (and a minor in physics).

Skipping back a bit, I was born in Benalla (pop. 8000) in 1960; my family moved to Ballarat (pop. 80,000) in 1965, and were still living there when I started to attend Melbourne University in 1979.

My parents were Methodists; I ceased to be a religious believer when I was in my early teenage years.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By TiZ on January 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is a study of ontological arguments for the existence of God. These arguments are supposed to have premises that are knowable a priori. On one simple version of an ontological argument, God is by definition a being that has every perfection, and since existence is a perfection, God exists. There are a number of more sophisticated ontological arguments, which have been defended and attacked by the most famous philosophers.
All significant versions of the argument from medieval, modern and contemporary philosophers are presented and evaluated here. The first chapter presents a history of the argument, and subsequent chapters digest and explain different versions of the arguments. Various objections against ontological arguments are considered, with an extensive treatment of parodies of the arguments and the most influential objection from Kant.
Oppy argues that some of the most influential objections against the arguments fail, but develops and defends other objections in original ways. He concludes that all ontological arguments are unpersuasive and of no use in supporting theism.
This is likely the most comprehensive and detailed study of ontological arguments available. It is generally clear and well organized, and often original and insightful. Extensive bibliographical and literature notes are provided, and this makes the book particularly useful for those interested in studying the arguments further. The book should be of interest to advanced undergraduate and graduate students and philosophers working in the philosophy of religion. Those unfamiliar with contemporary analytic philosophy will find it extremely difficult.
Readers may also be interested in Foster's "The Divine Lawmaker" and Gellman's "Experience of God and the Rationality of Theistic Belief" for more promising arguments for the existence of God.
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