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The Nature of Necessity (Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy) Revised ed. Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0198244141
ISBN-10: 0198244142
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"Interesting and original."--Times Higher Education Supplement


About the Author

Alvin Plantinga is at University of Notre Dame.
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Product Details

  • Series: Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Clarendon Press; Revised ed. edition (March 15, 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198244142
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198244141
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.5 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jay W. Richards on January 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
Plantinga's Nature of Necessity is a philosophical masterpiece. Although there are a number of good books in analytic philosophy dealing with modality (the concepts of necessity and possibility), this one is of sufficient clarity and breadth that even non-philosophers will benefit from it.
Modal logic may seem like a fairly arcane subject to outsiders, but this book exhibits both its intrinsic interest and its general importance. If you think there are good and bad arguments, conclusions that follow from some premises but not others, then you ought to be concerned with modal logic. If you're interested in the problem of evil and the ontological argument for the existence of God, you should read this book.
The Nature of Necessity has the added virtue that it maps most peoples' modal intuitions quite well (unlike some modal theories). Perhaps it is for this reason that certain philosophers treat the book a bit snippishly. I've read the book a half a dozen times; and I'll probably read it a few more times before it's all said and done.
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This is STILL Alvin Plantinga's most impressive book to date.

A philosophical masterpiece that excels in modal logic.

Plantinga does a great job with his version of the Ontological Argument. In perfect being theology, God is defined as "A Maximally Great Being" which means that God possesses all great-making, properties such as love, knowledge, and power, and possesses each in a maximal way.

Alvin Plantinga swings around Kant's object by showing how necessity is a property, and that Existence is not. Necessity does not entail existence. Necessity just means that if something exists, it exists in all possible worlds. Numbers have this property.

It is perfectly within the laws of modal logic for a property (which is not a perfection) to entail its negation.

While the Ontological Argument from Anselm has been restored by the likes of Stephen T Davis, now it clearly shows that the Ontological Argument is indeed the most powerful argument for God's existence. While the layman will have a lot of trouble understanding why, this does nothing to the argument itself.

Robert Maydole speaks about this book a lot in his writings of the Modal Perfection Argument, and rightly so. This book should is NECESSARY for everyone who is into philosophical theology.
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Format: Paperback
Perhaps Peter van Inwagen put it best when he called this book a "treasure trove." Plantinga's _The Nature of Necessity_ contains deep and sophisticated work on some of most important and interesting issues in metaphysics: de re modality, the nature of essences and possible worlds, nonexistent objects, and the Ontological Argument. As far as this reviewer is concerned, Plantinga's work stands as one of the greatest works of metaphysics of *all time*. I cannot recommend it highly enough
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Format: Paperback
Alvin Plantinga employs Quantified Modal Logic to provide insights into the Ontological Argument, the Problem of Evil and other problems in contemporary philosophical theology. A difficult book, but written with enormous clarity, power and wit. This is one of the best books I've ever read on any subject whatever
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Plantinga's aim at the outset of this book is to defend the notion of de re (of objects) necessity against those (most notably Quine) who contend that all necessity is de dicto (of words). His strategy is not unlike that of his apologetics-style work in philosophy of religion such as _Warranted Christian Belief_ (25 years later!) in that he takes the more limited tack of meeting opposing arguments rather than positively establishing his own considered position. As in _WCB_, in _NN_ it is the de jure question of "is this not on all fours" rather than the de facto "is it true".

In the matter of Christian faith, this is a more or less fruitful and appropriate _philosophical_ route to take (since the de facto question in this case would be one that properly goes beyond human reason and philosophy), but in the case of this book it makes for an incomplete study, to my mind, of a topic that is philosophically important through-and-through. Plantinga gives no clue as to how we would actually _find out_ what the essential and what the accidental properties of a thing are, and the ongoing implicit assumption at work seems to be that our untutored intuitions are entirely reliable in this capacity. Plantinga's own approach does nothing to stave off any suspicions that his own procedure for picking out some properties as essential and other as accidental is any less "invidious" than Quine thought. For example, the favored example of an accidental property is Socrates as "snubnosed," but how is this to be played out? Assuming Socrates' snubnosedness is hereditary and not the result of an unfortunate encounter with a wall, it must be taken to be possible that Socrates' genetic makeup be different than it was.
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Powerfully defends the case for synthetic necessary truths. And yet another analysis of the perennial ontological argument is exceptionally refined and convincingly demonstrates that most standard "refutations" simplistically miss the point. Though dense at places these discussions are never deliberately obscure. The reasoning, in fact, is unusually naked for philosophic writing, by which I mean that I sense no attempt to conceal difficulties or sidetrack potential objections. Whether sympathetic with the conclusions or not one should admire this sort of intellectual honesty.
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