Rationalism and Necessitarianism

Noûs 46 (3):418-448 (2012)
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Abstract

Metaphysical rationalism, the doctrine which affirms the Principle of Sufficient Reason (the PSR), is out of favor today. The best argument against it is that it appears to lead to necessitarianism, the claim that all truths are necessarily true. Whatever the intuitive appeal of the PSR, the intuitive appeal of the claim that things could have been otherwise is greater. This problem did not go unnoticed by the great metaphysical rationalists Spinoza and Leibniz. Spinoza’s response was to embrace necessitarianism. Leibniz’s response was to argue that, despite appearances, rationalism does not lead to necessitarianism. This paper examines the debate between these two rationalists and concludes that Leibniz has persuasive grounds for his opinion. This has significant implications both for the plausibility of the PSR and for our understanding of modality.

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Martin Lin
Rutgers - New Brunswick

Citations of this work

Metaphysical Rationalism.Shamik Dasgupta - 2016 - Noûs 50 (2):379-418.
Able to Do the Impossible.Jack Spencer - 2017 - Mind 126 (502):466-497.
Principle of Sufficient Reason.Fatema Amijee - 2020 - In Michael J. Raven (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaphysical Grounding. New York: Routledge. pp. 63-75.
Spinoza’s Monism I: Ruling Out Eternal-Durational Causation.Kristin Primus - 2023 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 105 (2):265-288.

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References found in this work

Spinoza.Don Garrett - 1991 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 51 (4):952-955.

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