Leibniz on Innocent Individual Concepts and Metaphysical Contingency

History of Philosophy Quarterly 41 (1):73-94 (2024)
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Abstract

Leibniz claims that for every possible substance S there is an individual concept that includes predicates describing everything that will ever happen to S, if S existed. Many commentators have thought that this leads Leibniz to think that all properties are had essentially, and thus that it is not metaphysically possible for substances to be otherwise than the way their individual concept has them as being. I argue against this common way of reading Leibniz’s views on the metaphysics of modality. I develop a model in which individual concepts are innocent; that is, individual concepts are divine ideas that permit God to know everything that will ever happen to all possible substances, if created, but these individual concepts neither require that all properties are had essentially nor require that it is metaphysically necessary for substances to be the way their individual concepts have them as being.

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Juan Garcia Torres
Wingate University

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