Leibniz's Causal Road to Existential Independence

History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis 1:1-28 (2023)
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Leibniz thinks that every created substance is causally active, and yet causally independent of every other: none can cause changes in any but itself. This is not controversial. But Leibniz also thinks that every created substance is existentially independent of every other: it is metaphysically possible for any to exist with or without any other. This is controversial. I argue that, given a mainstream reading of Leibniz’s essentialism, if one accepts the former, uncontroversial interpretation concerning causal independence, then one ought also to accept the latter, controversial one concerning existential independence. This is a new way to defend the ‘existential independence’ interpretation. Moreover, this defense provides a new approach for defending the broadly ‘non-logical’ interpretive camp in the longstanding debate over Leibniz’s views on incompossibility, against perhaps the strongest objection leveled by advocates of the opposing broadly ‘logical’ interpretation.

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Tobias Flattery
Wake Forest University

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