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Theism and Ultimate Explanation: The Necessary Shape of Contingency

ISBN: 978-1-4443-4546-9
250 pages
December 2011, Wiley-Blackwell
Theism and Ultimate Explanation: The Necessary Shape of Contingency (144434546X) cover image
An expansive, yet succinct, analysis of the Philosophy of Religion – from metaphysics through theology. Organized into two sections, the text first examines truths concerning what is possible and what is necessary. These chapters lay the foundation for the book’s second part – the search for a metaphysical framework that permits the possibility of an ultimate explanation that is correct and complete.
  • A cutting-edge scholarly work which engages with the traditional metaphysician’s quest for a true ultimate explanation of the most general features of the world we inhabit
  • Develops an original view concerning the epistemology and metaphysics of modality, or truths concerning what is possible or necessary
  • Applies this framework to a re-examination of the cosmological argument for theism
  • Defends a novel version of the Leibnizian cosmological argument
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Preface ix

Part I The Explanatory Role of Necessity 1

1. Modality and Explanation 3

Relative and Absolute Necessity 3

Scientifically Established Necessities 5

An Epistemological Worry about Modality: Causal Contact with Modal Facts 7

Modal Nihilism 10

Modal Reductionism and Defl ationism 15

Modal Anti-Realism and Quasi-Realism 27

Conclusion 30

2. Modal Knowledge 32

Conceivability As Our Guide? 32

Modality a Matter of Principle? 36

The Theoretical Roles of Modal Claims: Towards a Modal Epistemology 41

The Spheres of Possibility 60

Part II The Necessary Shape of Contingency 63

3. Ultimate Explanation and Necessary Being: The Existence Stage of the Cosmological Argument 65

Necessary Being 68

Two Objections to the Traditional Answer 73

Necessary Being As the Explanatory Ground of Contingency? 79

4. The Identification Stage 86

From Necessary Being to God, I: Transcendent, Not Immanent 86

Two Models of Transcendent Necessary Being: Logos and Chaos 93

Varieties of Chaos 93

Interlude: The Fine-Tuning Argument 97

From Necessary Being to God, II: Logos, Not Random Chaos 109

5. The Scope of Contingency 111

How Many Universes Would Perfection Realize? 111

Perfection and Freedom 121

Some Applications of the Many-Universe-Creation Hypothesis 122

Necessary Being and the Scope of Possibility 125

Necessary Being and the Many Necessary Truths 128

6. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Anselm? 130

The Unity of the Divine Nature and Its Consequences 132

Natural Theology in the Understanding of Revealed Theology 140

Coda 143

Notes 145

Bibliography 162

Index 172

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Timothy O'Connor is Professor of Philosophy at Indiana University Bloomington. He has published widely in the areas of metaphysics, philosophy of mind and action, and philosophy of religion. He is the author of Persons and Causes (2000) and the editor of Agents, Causes, and Events: Essays on Indeterminism and Free Will (1995), Philosophy of Mind: Contemporary Readings (2003), Downward Causation And The Neurobiology Of Free Will (2009), Emergence in Science and Philosophy (2010) and A Companion to the Philosophy of Action (2010).
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  • A cutting-edge scholarly work which engages with the traditional metaphysician’s quest for a true ultimate
    explanation of the most general features of the world we inhabit

  • Develops an original view concerning the epistemology and metaphysics of modality, or truths concerning
    what is possible or necessary

  • Applies this framework to a re-examination of the cosmological argument for theism

  • Defends a novel version of the Leibnizian cosmological argument
See More
“This trim but highly technical volume is indisensable for scholars and graudate-level researchers in the field.  Summing Up:  Essential.  Graduate students and researchers/faculty.”  (Choice, 1 October 2012)

"The collection is a critically important resource for scholars of the philosophy of action. The overall clarity of the entries, moreover, also makes it accessible as a resource for undergraduate and graduate students working in the area. Highly recommended.”

(Choice)

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