Philosophical Essays and Texts of Leibniz

Can Leibniz satisfactorily account for contingency? College

Throughout the Discourse on Metaphysics and the Letters to Arnauld , specifically, Leibniz embarks on an exploration of necessity and contingency in relation to the key metaphysical principles he postulates. Since the publication of the Discourse, Leibniz's work has been subject to a barrage of philosophical criticism, the majority attempting to demonstrate the incompatibility of Leibniz's metaphysical principles with the desirable ideas of divine and human freedom and the contingency of some propositions. In this essay, I will seek to sustain the line of argument that although Leibniz's initial proposals within the Discourse are susceptible to stark criticism, he does seem to manage to justify his beliefs in the face of it and present a reasonable account of contingency.

Leibniz's consideration of necessary and contingent truths follows directly from the postulation of his 'Predicate in Notion Principle' which states that 'the notion of the predicate is contained in some way in that of the subject' (Leibniz, 'Extracts from the letters to Arnauld’ in G. W. Leibniz: Philosophical Essays ed. Ariew and Garber) ; all subjects contain within them all predicates relating to them. His exploration of necessity and contingency stems...

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