Res Philosophica

Volume 97, Issue 3, July 2020

Adam Harmer
Pages 437-457

The Role of Plurality in Leibniz’s Argument from Unity

I argue that Leibniz’s well-known Argument from Unity is equally an argument from plurality. I detail two main claims about plurality that drive the argument, and I provide evidence that they structure Leibniz’s argument from the late 1670s onwards. First, there is what I call Mereological Nihilism (i.e., the claim that a plurality cannot be made into a true unity by any available means). Second, there is what I call the Plurality Thesis (i.e., the claim that matter is a plurality in need of unity in the first place). I suggest that the Plurality Thesis offers a general analysis of materiality that, in some sense, is the most important aspect of Leibniz’s argument. Finally, I connect these claims about plurality to the common seventeenth and eighteenth-century commitment known as the actual parts doctrine.