The Epistemological Roots of the Dispute over Time and Freedom in the Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence

International Philosophical Quarterly 50 (2):201-220 (2010)
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Abstract

Historians and philosophers of science commonly ignore the epistemological disagreement about the theoretical limits of rationality that underlies the disputes over the absoluteness or relationality of time and the true nature of divine freedom in the Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence. Accordingly, I explore both the logical interconnectedness and the deeper philosophical roots of these disputes, with a view to evaluating the contrast in Leibniz’s and Clarke’s underlying notions of the limits of rationality. In tracing this contrast, I attempt to show first that Clarke’s position can be used to demonstrate successfully that Leibniz’s concept of divine freedom, and his use of the Principle of Sufficient Reason to justify it, involves a contradiction. Second, I attempt to demonstrate that the concept of the limits of rationality underlying Clarke’s conception of divine freedom can be successfully defended against Leibniz’s attacks.

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