Leibniz on Conatus, Causation, and Freedom



Abstract:  In this paper, I address the topic of free will in Leibniz with particular attention to Leibniz's concept of volition, and its analogue in his physics – his concept of force. I argue against recent commentators that Leibniz was a causal determinist, and thus a compatibilist, and I suggest that logical consistency required him to adopt compatibilism given some of the concepts at work in his physics. I conclude by pointing out that the pressures to adopt causal determinism in Leibniz's system are perhaps more severe than those facing the contemporary libertarian, pressures that stem from empirical considerations about the behavior of bodies in the physical world, and the “well-founding” of those bodies in simple substances.