God and Necessity

Brian Leftow

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199263356
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191741777 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy

God and Necessity

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  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Metaphysics


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This book offers a theory of the possible and the necessary — modality — 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. The book holds that there are no such things, nor any sort of abstract entity. The metaphysical ‘work’ such items usually do it assigns to God and events in His mind. It reduces ‘broadly logical’ to causal modalities and replaces possible worlds in the semantics of modal logic with God and His mental events. The book 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. The book disagrees: it argues that necessary truths about possible creatures and kinds of creatures — about essences — are due ultimately to God’s unconstrained imagination and choice. On its theory, it is no sense part of the nature of God that normal zebras have stripes (if that’s a necessary truth). Stripy zebras are simply things God thought up, and they have the nature they do simply because that is how He thought of them. Thus the theory takes a half-step toward Descartes’ view of modal truth.

Keywords: God; necessity; possibility; modality; essence; possible world

Book.  592 pages. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion ; Metaphysics

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