"Contingency, Imperfection and Evil": Leibniz's Conception of Freedom


Leibniz argues in the Theodicy that three conditions must be satisfied for a human being to be free. These are intelligence, spontaneity and contingency. While both intelligence and spontaneity present their own unique issues, the condition of contingency constitutes the most difficult problem in Leibniz's metaphysical corpus. In this paper, I focus on this problem. I argue that Leibniz offers a successful account of contingency. First, I explain what Leibniz means by contingency in the context of his discussion of freedom. Second, I argue that the standard interpretation of the problem of contingency, the theory of internal possibility, is unsuccessful. Third, I offer an original interpretation of contingency in terms of Leibniz's ideas about simple imperfection and original limitation of all creatures. Finally, I demonstrate that Leibniz relies on the latter notion of contingency in his understanding of moral agency.