FREEDOM AND NECESSITY IN THE METAPHYSICS OF LEIBNIZ (CONTINGENCY, POSSIBLE WORLDS)

MARK SCHERSTEN, Marquette University

Abstract

My central claim in this study is that the fundamental metaphysical principles of Leibniz fail to provide the necessary conditions for the possibility of human freedom. Leibniz held that each individual substance has its complete concept, which contains everything that is ever true of that individual. He also wrote that if even one of these attributes were altered, that individual would then be a numerically different individual. From these ideas and from the perfection of God, I argue that everything that is true of an individual is necessarily true of it. And, since contingency must be considered a necessary condition for the possibility of freedom, I conclude that Leibniz falls into that necessitarianism which he was trying to avoid. In Part One of this study, I examine seven principles of Leibniz's metaphysics. From these principles, I argue in the fifth chapter that Leibnizian substances can belong to at most one possible world, and thus, on the possible worlds account of modality, that all truths concerning individual substances are necessary truths. In the sixth chapter, from the position that the principle of perfection is a necessary principle, I argue that the actual world is the only possible world within the framework of Leibniz's metaphysics. I conclude in the seventh chapter with some reflections on the relations among God, truth, and freedom. This issue has importance beyond its bearing on the philosophy of Leibniz. The existence of contingent facts is threatened both by the foreknowledge of an omniscient God and by the present truth or falsity of propositions about the future. Furthermore, questions raised by Leibniz have significance for theories of reference and for the relation between metaphysics and epistemology.

Recommended Citation

MARK SCHERSTEN, "FREEDOM AND NECESSITY IN THE METAPHYSICS OF LEIBNIZ (CONTINGENCY, POSSIBLE WORLDS)" (January 1, 1984). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI8422831.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI8422831

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