Jan-Erik JONES

Leibniz and Locke and the Debate over Species

vendredi 1er octobre, 15h20-16h50

Résumé de la communication :

In reading the debate over species in the Nouveaux Essais, one is struck by the intensity and perplexing character of the arguments. Within the context of this debate, a striking issue arises: that is, whether—and if so, how—Leibniz’s arguments constitute a response to Locke. Susanna Goodin, in her article "Locke and Leibniz and the Debate over Species",1 argues that Leibniz’s criticisms of Locke’s position are inadequate as a refutation of Locke’s workmanship of the understanding thesis, and if Leibniz were to buttress his criticisms by appeal to his own metaphysical commitments, he could do so only at the expense of so radically altering the nature of the debate that Locke’s original concerns would not even arise.2 In my paper, however, I will argue that Leibniz has more resources available to him within the Nouveaux Essais than have been previously noted. In particular, I argue contra Goodin, that Leibniz offers a dialectically adequate, and mechanistically and empirically respectable, counterproposal to Locke’s workmanship thesis, which he takes to demonstrate, in a non-question-begging way, the explanatory superiority of realism about species forms.


1 New Essays on the Rationalists, R. J. Gennaro and C. Huenemann, (eds). New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 163-75.

2 As Henry Allison has recently argued, Leibniz’s best arguments against Locke’s workmanship of the understanding thesis is deeply grounded in the metaphysics of the Monadology. See his "The Critique of Judgement as a ‘True Apology’ for Leibniz", p. 291.