Volume 26, December 2016
Dedicated to G. W. Leibniz
Lawful Fecundity and Incompossibility
A Criticism of Jeffrey McDonough’s ‘Leibniz and the puzzle of incompossibility: the packing strategy’
Relying on an analogy Leibniz makes in On The Ultimate Origin of Things between God’s creation of substances and a tiling board game, Jeffrey McDonough argues that the challenge of the problem of incompossibility is finding the optimal balance of net-goodness and plenitude given certain existential constraints that God must respect. For McDonough the ordering that optimizes the greatest number of substances is the best of all possible worlds. In this paper I argue that McDonough’s solution cannot be an admissible interpretation of compossibility as Leibniz perceived it because he misinterprets the aim of the tiling analogy: Leibniz did not intend for the tiling analogy to be applied to the problem of compossibility. In my view Leibniz used the tiling analogy to argue for simplicity as a necessary feature of the nomological makeup of the best set of already-compossible substances.