In Rodolfo Garau & Pietro Omodeo (eds.), Contingency and Natural Order in Early Modern Science. Springer Verlag. pp. 289-316 (2019)

Tzuchien Tho
Bristol University
This paper focuses on Leibniz’s conception of modality and its application to the issue of natural laws. The core of Leibniz’s investigation of the modality of natural laws lays in the distinction between necessary, geometrical laws on the one hand, and contingent, physical laws of nature on the other. For Leibniz, the contingency of physical laws entailed the assumption of the existence of an additional form of causality beyond mechanical or efficient ones. While geometrical truths, being necessary, do not require the use of the principle of sufficient reason, physical laws are not strictly determined by geometry and therefore are logically distinct from geometrical laws. As a consequence, the set of laws that regulate the physical laws could have been created otherwise by God. However, in addition to this, the contingency of natural laws does not consist only in the fact that God has chosen them over other possible ones. On the contrary, Leibniz understood the status of natural laws as arising from the action internal to physical substances. Hence the actuality of physical laws results from a causal power that is inherent to substances rather than being the mere consequence of the way God arranged the relations between physical objects. Focusing on three instances of Leibniz’s treatment of contingency in physics, this paper argues that, in order to account for the contingency of physical laws, Leibniz maintained that final causes, in addition to efficient and mechanical ones, must operate in physical processes and operations.
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DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-67378-3_14
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Philosophical Papers, Volume II.David Lewis - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
Leibniz's Optics and Contingency in Nature.Jeffrey K. McDonough - 2010 - Perspectives on Science 18 (4):432-455.

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