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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Monadological contingentism

Williamson defines contingentism as the opposite of necessitism and both as follows:

Call the proposition that is necessary what there is necessitism and its negation contingentism. In a slightly less compressed form, necessitism says that necessarily everything is necessarily something; still more long-windedly, it is necessary that everything is such that it is necessary that something is identical with it. (Modal Logic as Metaphysics, 13 - Oxford UP).

In still other words, necessitism takes existence as necessary while contingentism has that what exists is contingent on something and could be otherwise. Following contingentism, what exists could be dependent on whatever else exists. This is the sort of contingentism a monadological approach (which I would find in Leibniz but also on Tarde, Whitehead, Latour and maybe others) would embrace. In fact, contingentism seems to follow from Leibniz' law - things are what they are necessarily but they don't exist necessarily (the identity of indiscernibles). For Leibniz, Adam has to be a sinner, but nothing forced God create him - this is Leibniz's line against Arnault: Adam is the product of a choice God made, Adam was chosen in virtue of all the other items in the best possible world and given all that, Adam has to be a sinner but he doesn't have to exist. He existed because of a (wisest possible) choice made by God. Spinoza would have that anything exists necessarily, but Leibniz wouldn't. As for Whitehead, contingentism is spoused to no substantiality and yet an actual entity is necessarily the way it is - if it ceases being the way it is, it becomes somthing else. The real essence of an actual entity is understood in terms of all the other actual entities around it, there is nothing in the entity beyond this solidarity and therefore nothing that would make it subsist (qua entity) outside this society of entities. Williamson takes contingentism to claim that ontology - what exists - is contingent. It is through some metaphysical necessity - that what exists is the way it is - that monadologies make sure ontology is contingent.

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