New paper: Leibnizian intelligibility

I’ve added a new paper to the My Papers section of the site. Here is a PDF. Comments welcome. Here is an abstract.

Abstract: It is well-known that Leibniz rejected the accounts of gravitation offered by Newton and his followers. But literature on the topic up to present has been content either i) to explain this rejection as a consequence of Leibniz’s rejection of the intelligibility of action at a distance; or ii) to regard Leibniz’s rejection, given his acceptance of his own notion of force, as unjustified. This article provides a fuller account of why Leibniz regarded Newtonian gravitation as unintelligible. The paper divides into two parts. The first part shows that neither of the above explanations suffices to explain Leibniz’s rejection of Newtonian gravitation. The second part explicates the notion of intelligibility standing behind Leibniz’s charge against the Newtonians. In this part, I begin by cataloguing a list of physical hypotheses that Leibniz takes to be unintelligible. I then move to the positive account of intelligibility Leibniz gives in his correspondence with Christian Wolff. Thereby, I show that the different Newtonian accounts of gravitation each undermine the Leibnizian theological tenet that this is the best of all possible worlds.


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