In early writings, Leibniz mocks Scholastic privation theory, according to which evils are the lacks of appropriate perfections whose existence does not require the general concurrence of God. In the mid-1680s, Leibniz appears to change his mind, and he defends privation theory by name during the rest of his career. In this paper, I argue that this apparent about-face is misleading: the privation theory Leibniz later defends is not the traditional theory he once scorned. I show instead that Leibniz came to regard his own distinctive metaphysics of evil, his “original limitation theory,” as a suitable replacement for Scholastic privation theory and for which he could readily claim the mantle of traditionalism. I then explore Leibniz’s original limitation theory in fresh detail and conclude that the Scholastics themselves would have rejected Leibniz’s terminological co-opting on grounds that Leibniz’s original limitation theory contains a false ontology of evil.


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pp. 281-308
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