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Counterfactuals Hypotheses, Fictions, and the Laws of Nature

The Arguments for Contingency in Leibniz, Wolff, and Bilfinger

Matteo Favaretti Camposampiero    Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia    



How can we know that our world is not the only possible one? Leibniz’s claim that this world is the best of all possible worlds obviously presupposes the modal thesis that more than one world is possible. Moreover, the possibility of alternative worlds is also the crucial premise for Leibniz’s most popular defence of contingency. Even if this commitment to possible worlds may appear unproblematic to us, Leibniz’s immediate followers felt that the pluralist assumption about possible worlds required some justification. Aim of this paper is to reconstruct Leibniz’s arguments for possible worlds and contingentism, as they are stated in the Theodicy, by taking into consideration Wolff’s and Bilfinger’s critical (albeit sympathetic) discussion. Following Bilfinger’s classification, three main arguments are explored: the argument from the conceivability of counterfactual situations, the argument from fiction, and the argument from the contingency of natural laws.


Keywords: Possible WorldsContingencyWolff

Copyright: © 2016 Matteo Favaretti Camposampiero. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.