Necessitarianism in Leibniz's Confessio Philosophi

Society and Politics 6 (2):114-123 (2012)
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Leibniz’s Confessio philosophi (1672–1673) appears to provide an anti-necessitarian solution to the problem of the author of sin. I will give here a brief reading of what appear to be two solutions to the problem of the author of sin in the Confessio. The first solution appears to commit Leibniz’s spokesman (the Philosopher) to necessitarianism. The Theologian (Leibniz’s interlocutor) objects to this necessitarianism, prompting the Philosopher to offer a modified version that appears to exorcise this doctrine. As it turns out, Leibniz holds that these two solutions are in fact the same. I will thus conclude by reconciling these solutions, arguing for giving priority to the more radical first solution. I will argue for this by looking at the connections between the Confessio philosophi and some of Leibniz’s other works in its genre around its time. It will be argued that Leibniz does not find the necessitarianism, which references to per se contingencies are supposed to solve, to be problematic in 1673.



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Joseph Anderson
University of Virginia

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