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The Leibniz Review

Volume 10, December 2000

Catherine Wilson
Pages 1-20

Plenitude and Compossibility in Leibniz

Leibniz entertained the idea that, as a set of “striving possibles” competes for existence, the largest and most perfect world comes into being. The paper proposes 8 criteria for a Leibniz-world. It argues that a) there is no algorithm e.g., one involving pairwise compossibility-testing that can produce even possible Leibniz-worlds; b) individual substances presuppose completed worlds; c) the uniqueness of the actual world is a matter of theological preference, not an outcome of the assembly-process; and d) Goedel’s theorem implies that there can be no algorithm for producing optimal worlds, assuming an optimal world contains truth-discerning creatures, though this is not to say that such worlds cannot arise naturally.