Review of Van Inwagen's Ontology, Identity and Modality
Textor (Mark)
Source: Religious Studies, 39, Issue 04, Dec 2003, pp 475-479
Paper - Abstract

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Peter van Inwagen is one of the philosophers responsible for the recent interest in the metaphysics of material objects (See his "Van Inwagen (Peter) - Material Beings" (Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press, 1990)). "Van Inwagen (Peter) - Ontology, Identity and Modality: Essays in metaphysics" is a collection of his essays on this and other topics in metaphysics. The title makes no mystery about the main issues. The first group of papers discusses problems of A-ontology and meta-ontology. A-ontology pursues the question of what there is, meta-ontology the methodological question how A-ontology should be done and the semantic question what its key-term ‘existence’ means (B-ontology is structural or formal ontology, a discipline van Inwagen claims not to understand, 2f ). The second group of papers discusses ontological problems guided by the maxim: ‘retain the standard view of identity, and try to achieve theoretical coherency by a suitable choice of metaphysical principles’ (8). The topic of the final group of papers is the metaphysics and epistemology of modality1. Should we think of possible worlds as spatio-temporal objects (concretism) or as proposition-like abstract objects (abstractionism)? Van Inwagen finds concretism unbelievable, opts for abstractionism and tries to deflect the main arguments against it.


Review of "Van Inwagen (Peter) - Ontology, Identity and Modality: Essays in metaphysics"; 1st 5 pages of PDF (which includes other reviews)

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