Peter van Inwagen

Fourth Edition • August 12, 2014 • 352 pages

Print ISBN: 9780813349343 • $45.00 USD$58.50 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780813349350 • $29.99 USD$29.99 CAN


More by these authors:

Order an Exam or Desk Copy

With thoughtful and engaging prose, noted scholar Peter van Inwagen provides a comprehensive introduction to metaphysics in this essential text. Metaphysics covers the gamut of historical and contemporary arguments of metaphysics, engaging readers through three profound questions: What are the most general features of the world? Why is there a world? And, what is the place of human beings in the world?

The thoroughly revised fourth edition includes an updated and rewritten chapter on temporality and significant improvements to the clarity and accessibility of the language, making it an even more valuable text for undergraduate students. Metaphysics remains the quintessential book in this field of study and a fascinating book for a wide range of readers, from those new to the subject to the most sophisticated philosophers.

Peter van Inwagen is John Cardinal O’Hara professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he is the author of numerous works, Material Beings (1990), Ontology, Identity, and Modality: Essays in Metaphysics (2001), Christian Faith and the Problem of Evil (2004), Persons: Human and Divine (2008), and Existence: Essays in Ontology (2014).

Preface to the Fourth Edition


Part One: The Way the World Is

Part Two: Why the World Is
6.Necessary Being: The Ontological Argument
7.Necessary Being: The Cosmological Argument

Part Three: The Inhabitants of the World
8.What Rational Beings Are There?
9.The Place of Rational Beings in the World: Design and Purpose
10.The Nature of Rational Beings: Dualism and Physicalism
11.The Nature of Rational Beings: Dualism and Personal Identity
12.The Powers of Rational Beings: Freedom of the Will
13.Concluding Meditation
14.Coda: Being


Praise for the fourth edition:

“It is very challenging to present the ideas and arguments of metaphysics in a way that undergraduates can follow, but van Inwagen not only does so with perspicuity, but also with great insight and rigor.” —Gordon Pettit, Western Illinois University

“The exposition throughout is a model of clarity, and it is remarkable how much ground is covered. There is a precision and efficiency of expression that is impressive. Metaphysics is a first-rate text, and the author is a master of the field.” —Jenann Ismael, University of Arizona

Metaphysics is a very helpful introduction to a difficult area in philosophy, and any library that does not have this book should get it. . . . the clarity of the writing makes this volume extremely useful to advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and those faculty who are interested in these issues but have only a passing acquaintance with them. Highly recommended.” —Choice

Praise for prior editions:

“Peter van Inwagen’s Metaphysics is a terrific upper division text—accessible, engaging, wide ranging, challenging, provocative. Chock full of everyday examples that, upon analysis, reveal intriguing puzzles and perplexities, proposed solutions to which are subject to imaginative and rigorous argument, characteristic of this gifted philosopher and outstanding metaphysician.”

—Jonathan Adler, Brooklyn College

“In my judgment, Peter van Inwagen has authored the single best introductory text in metaphysics. On display throughout one finds examples of the remarkable insights and masterful style that have earned him a well-deserved place among our finest metaphysicians. I know of no one more careful in the presentation of philosophical ideas than van Inwagen.”

—Hud Hudson, Western Washington University

“This is a superb book—a sophisticated but very accessible introduction to the basic issues of metaphysics by one of the very best philosophers world-wide. Highly recommended!”

—John Martin Fischer, University of California, Riverside

If you are a professor or course instructor, please use the following form to give us feedback on Metaphysics: