Leibniz and the Square: A Deontic Logic for the Vir Bonus

History and Philosophy of Logic 35 (4):369-376 (2014)
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Seventeenth century philosopher Gottfried Leibniz's contributions to metaphysics, mathematics, and logic are well known. Lesser known is his ‘invention’ of deontic logic, and that his invention derives from the alethic logic of the Aristotelian square of opposition. In this paper, I show how Leibniz developed this ‘logic of duties’, which designates actions as ‘possible, necessary, impossible, and omissible’ for a ‘vir bonus’ . I show that for Leibniz, deontic logic can determine whether a given action, e.g. as permitted, is therefore obligatory or prohibited . Secondly, since the deontic modes are derived from what is possible, necessary, etc., for a good person to do, and that ‘right and obligation’ are the ‘moral qualities’ of a good person, we can see how Leibniz derives deontic logic from these moral qualities. Finally, I show how Leibniz grounds a central deontic concept, namely obligation, in the human capacity for freedom



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Christopher L. Johns
American University of Beirut

Citations of this work

Deontic logic.Paul McNamara - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

Leviathan.Thomas Hobbes - 1904 - Harmondsworth,: Penguin Books. Edited by C. B. Macpherson.
Leviathan.Thomas Hobbes - 1651 - Baltimore,: Clarendon Press. Edited by Aloysius Martinich, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya.
I. deontic logic.G. H. von Wright - 1951 - Mind 60 (237):1-15.
Deontic logic.G. H. von Wright - 1951 - Mind 60 (237):1-15.

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