Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

Since the beginning of his activity, Leibniz considers the notion of free will as absurd; he holds this notion not only unnecessary to found moral responsibility but also as an impediment to the correct understanding of divine and human retribution. What prevents many readers to accept this view is Leibniz’s insistence on contingency as a requisite of free actions: I argue that the possibility of ‘being otherwise’ in a different possible world has nothing to do with freedom, which is a perfection, but rather explains the fact that our actions can be wrong.

Leibniz starts dealing with the problem of free will in 1671, with a short treatise, now lost, described by himself as a meditation on how human freedom can coexist with divine providence, fate, damnation, God’s grace, punishments and rewards (Leibniz 1923ff: II-1, 83). Forty years later, in his Theodicy, he will still be dealing with the same issues, but in the light of a life-long enquiry covering all the main subjects of metaphysics. Such relentless interest and constant rework depends on three…


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