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Alvin Plantinga Edit Profile

author , philosophy educator

Alvin Plantinga, American philosophy educator, author. Fellow Center Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences, 1968-1969, National Endowment of the Humanities, 1975-1976, 87, 95-96, Guggenheim fellow, 1971-1972, visiting fellow Balliol College, Oxford, England, 1975-1976; Gifford lecturer, 1987, 2005, Wilde lecturer, 1988.


Plantinga, Alvin was born on November 15, 1932 in Michigan, United States. Son of Cornelius A. and Lettie Gertrude (Bossenbroek) Plantinga.


Bachelor, Calvin College, 1954. Master of Arts, University Michigan, 1955. Doctor of Philosophy, Yale University, 1958.

Several honorary degrees.


Instructor Yale University, New Haven, 1957-1958. Associate professor Wayne State University, Detroit, 1958-1963. Professor Calvin College, Grand Rapids, 1963-1982.

John A. O'Brien professor philosophy University Notre Dame, Indiana, 1982—2010, director Center for Philosophy of Religion, 1983—2003. Director summer seminar Council Philosophic Studies, Grand Rapids, 1973. Director summer seminars National Endowment of the Humanities, Grand Rapids, 1975, 76, 78, co-director, 1986.

Director Notre Dame Center Philosophy of Religion.



Plantinga’s work has been characterized by the careful application of techniques of modem logic to traditional problems in epistemology, metaphysics and especially the philosophy of religion. A member of the Christian Reformed Church, he has tried to defend religious belief against the claim that it is irrational. In God and Other Minds (1967) he argued that belief in God was, in crucial ways, like belief in other minds.

Neither can be given any ultimate rational justification, but neither needs it: they can be regarded as beliefs which are epistemologically basic, and which it is rational to accept without justification. This theory of knowledge, known as ‘reformed epistemology’, has been developed in detail in Plantinga’s later works. More generally, he has argued that a belief is justified if it is the result of properly functioning cognitive capacities in an appropriate environment, a conception which, he holds, has its most natural home in a theistic setting.

In The Nature of Necessity (1974) he developed a ’quantified modal realism’, a theory, derived Partly from Leibniz, which explains the nature of necessity in terms of possible worlds.

Much of Plantinga’s work has been informed by this conception. Plantinga’s w°rk has been one of the major stimuli to the use °t modem logical and philosophical techniques in Philosophical theology, particularly in the US. He,s generally regarded as one of most powerful modem philosophers of religion.


Member American Philosophical Association (president central division 1982), Society Christian Philosophers (president 1983-1986).


  • Other Interests

    Ontology; epistemology. Philosophy of religion. Philosophy of logic.


Married Kathleen Ann DeBoer, June 16, 1955. Children: Carl, Jane, Harry, Annual.

Cornelius A. Plantinga

Lettie Gertrude (Bossenbroek) Plantinga

Kathleen Ann DeBoer

Carl Plantinga

Jane Plantinga

Harry Plantinga

Annual Plantinga