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Peter van Inwagen

John Cardinal O'Hara Professor of Philosophy Universtiy of Notre Dame

Peter van Inwagen (b. 1942) is the John Cardinal O’Hara Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. Previously he taught at the University of Syracuse. He received his B.S. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1965 and his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Rochester in 1969 under Richard Taylor. Professor van Inwagen’s publications have focused on metaphysics ethics and philosophical theology. His writings on incompatibilism (libertarian free will) have contributed significantly to the interest and acceptance of libertarian free will in analytic philosophy.

His published books include: Time and Cause: Essays Presented to Richard Taylor, editor (1980); An Essay on Free Will (1983), co-edited with Alvin Plantinga (1985); Material Beings (1990); Metaphysics (1993); God, Knowledge and Mystery (1995); The Possibility of Resurrection and Other Essays in Christian Apologetics (1997); Ontology, Identity and Modality (2001); Christian Faith and the Problem of Evil, editor (2004).

A selection of his recent publications include: “Materialism and the Psychological Continuity Account of Personal Identity,” Philosophical Perspectives (1997); “Modal Epistemology,” Philosophical Studies (1998); “Temporal Parts and Identity across Time,” The Monist (2000); “Free Will Remains a Mystery,” Philosophical Perspectives (2000); “Existence, Ontological Commitment and Fictional Entities” The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics (2003); “A Theory of Properties,” Oxford Studies in Metaphysics (2004); and “Freedom to Break the Laws,” Midwest Studies in Philosophy (2004).

He was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005. Besides the Gifford Lectures in St Andrews, he has delivered the F. D. Maurice Lectures at the University of London in March (1999), the Wilde Lectures on Natural Religion at Oxford University (2000), the Stewart Lectures at Princeton University (2002) and the Jellema Lectures at Calvin College (2004).

Professor van Inwagen was raised in the Unitarian Universalist Church and became an agnostic by the time he entered university. In 1983 he was baptized into the Episcopal Church, of which he has remained a member. An account of his conversion to Christianity appears in his essay “Quam Dilecta,” in God and the Philosophers edited by Thomas V. Morris (1994).

  • Steve Holmes, University of St Andrews