Date of Award
Dissertation - Restricted
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Michael G. Vater
Roland J. Teske
The philosophy of Leibniz has seen renewed interest in recent years. Many of the themes central to contemporary analytical philosophy can be found in the writings of Leibniz. Among these are the conception of truth as analyticity, the principle of substitutivity salva veritate ( according to which terms with identical denotations can be replaced by one another in proposition s without changing the truth value of the propositions), and the explication of necessity and contingency in terms of multiple possible worlds.
This study is an attempt to formulate afresh the fundamental principles of Leibniz's metaphysics and to determine whether he is successful in his defense of human freedom. This freedom certainly seems threatened by several central claims that Leibniz makes. For instance, he holds that every individual substance, including the human being, has its complete concept, which contains everything that is
ever true of that individual, and that if even one of these predicates were changed, then that individual would be a numerically different individual. Leibniz is also committed to the existence of an omniscient God who, in the act of creation, chose from the infinitely many possible worlds that world which contained the maximum possible amount of existence and perfection. This position is expressed in the famous Leibnizian dictum that this is the best of all possible worlds.
These ideas suggest that, once the world is created and set on its course, everything that subsequently happens in the world, including the thoughts and actions of human beings, is completely determined to happen as it does. This, of course, raises serious problems for the reality of contingency and freedom. In this study I argue that Leibniz's attempts to solve these problems fall short of providing an adequate basis for a meaningful notion of human freedom.