Forum Philosophicum

Volume 15, Issue 1, Autumn 2010

Lloyd Strickland
Pages 17-35

False Optimism? Leibniz, Evil, and the Best of all Possible Worlds

Leibniz’s claim that this is the best of all possible worlds has been subject to numerous criticisms, both from his contemporaries and ours. In this paper I investigate a cluster of such criticisms based on the existence, abundance or character of worldly evil. As several Leibniz-inspired versions of optimism have been advanced in recent years, the aim of my investigation is to assess not just how Leibniz’s brand of optimism fares against these criticisms, but also whether optimism as a philosophy has the resources to meet these challenges. I show that none of the criticisms considered has sufficient force to pose a threat to Leibniz’s version of optimism or to one modelled on it.

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