•  30
    This book explores different accounts of powers and abilities in early modern philosophy. It analyzes powers and abilities as a package, hopefully enabling us to better understand them both and to see similarities as well as dissimilarities. While some prominent early modern accounts of power have been studied in detail, this volume covers lesser-known thinkers and several early modern women philosophers. The volume also investigates early modern accounts of powers and abilities in a more system…Read more
  •  22
    Hume und der Liberalismus
    Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie 109 (2): 195-216. 2023.
    Is Hume a liberal or a conservative? Hume scholars are divided over this question. This paper rejects the widespread reading of Hume as a conservative and argues that Hume is a liberal, even though his version of liberalism is fundamentally different from Lockean liberalism. Hume differs from Locke in that he attempts to justify a liberal political order without appealing to natural rights or a social contract. Instead, his liberalism is deeply rooted in his empiricist epistemology and in his se…Read more
  •  17
    Spinoza on the Essences of Singular Things
    Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 9 (n/a). 2022.
    Essences play a central role in Spinoza’s philosophy, not only in his metaphysics, but also in his philosophy of mind, his theory of affects, and his political philosophy. Despite their importance, however, it is surprisingly difficult to determine what exactly essences are for Spinoza. On a widespread reading, the essence of X is nothing but the concept of X. This paper argues against this identification of essences and concepts. Spinozistic concepts are maximally inclusive: the concept of X co…Read more
  •  22
    Descartes’s argument for modal voluntarism
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy. forthcoming.
    Descartes famously espouses modal voluntarism, the doctrine that God freely creates the eternal truths. God has chosen to make it true that two plus two equals four, for instance, but he could have chosen otherwise. Why, though, does Descartes endorse modal voluntarism? Many commentators have noted that he regularly appeals to divine omnipotence to justify his doctrine. This strategy is usually thought to be unsuccessful, however, because it seems to presuppose—question-beggingly—that the eterna…Read more
  •  53
    The Principle of Sufficient Reason —the principle that everything has a reason—plays a central role in Leibniz’s philosophical system. It is rather difficult, however, to determine what Leibniz’s attitude towards the modal status of the PSR is. The prevailing view is that Leibniz takes the PSR to be true necessarily. This paper develops a novel interpretation and argues that Leibniz’s PSR is a contingent principle. It also discusses whether a merely contingent PSR can do the metaphysical heavy l…Read more
  •  40
    Anne Conway's Metaphysics of Change
    History of Philosophy Quarterly 39 (1): 21-44. 2022.
    The Aristotelian account of change—according to which no individual can survive a change of species because an individual's essence is, at least in part, determined by its species membership—remains popular in the seventeenth century. One important, but often overlooked dissenting voice comes from Anne Conway. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Conway firmly rejects the Aristotelian account of change. She instead endorses the doctrine of Radical Mutability, the view that a creature can belong to…Read more
  •  34
    Hume's Deep Anti-Contractarianism
    Hume Studies 47 (1): 103-129. 2022.
    Hume is an avowed critic of contractarianism. He opposes the idea that a legitimate government is based on an ‘original contract’ or on the consent of those who are governed. Most scholars assume, though, that his criticisms apply only to a limited range of contractarian theories, namely to theories according to which actual contractors reach an actual agreement. Theories on which the agreement in question is understood in hypothetical or counterfactual terms, however, are oftentimes seen as bei…Read more
  •  29
    Leibniz and the ‘petites réflexions’
    Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 102 (4): 619-645. 2020.
    In this article, I defend the thesis that Leibniz’s rational substances always have higher-order perceptions, even when they are, say, in a dreamless sleep. I argue that without this assumption, Leibniz’s conception of reflection would introduce discontinuities into his philosophy of mind which (given his Principle of Continuity) he cannot allow. This interpretation does not imply, however, that rational beings must be aware of these higher-order states at all times. In fact, these states are of…Read more
  •  26
  •  1
    Was machen eigentlich PhilosophiehistorikerInnen
    Praefaktisch - Ein Philosophieblog. 2019.
    In this blog entry, which addresses a broader audience, I wonder what exactly historians of philosophy do and how their work relates to non-historical work in philosophy. In particular, I raise the question why systematic philosophers and historians of philosophy are relatively close to each other. After all, they often publish in the same journals and work at the same departments. This is surprising, given that asking what X is seems to be rather different from asking what some person a few hun…Read more
  •  15
    In Dominik Perler & Sebastian Bender (eds.), Causation and Cognition in Early Modern Philosophy, Routledge. pp. 1-17. 2020.
    Early modern philosophers took the phenomena of causation and cognition to be closely related. United in their opposition to Aristotelian accounts of cognition, they developed a wide range of competing theories to explain which causal processes lead to cognitions. Somewhat surprisingly, some early modern authors also made cognition a requirement for causation, on the assumption that every cause needs to cognize its effect. This introductory chapter explores both directions of explanation—from ca…Read more
  •  4
    Berkeley on Causation, Ideas, and Necessary Connections
    In Dominik Perler & Sebastian Bender (eds.), Causation and Cognition in Early Modern Philosophy, Routledge. pp. 295-316. 2020.
    On Berkeley’s immaterialist ontology, there are only two kinds of created entities: finite spirits and ideas. Ideas are passive, and so there is no genuine idea-idea causation. Finite spirits, by contrast, are truly causally active on Berkeley’s view, in that they can produce ideas through their volitional activity. Some commentators have argued that this account of causation is inconsistent. On their view, the unequal treatment of spirits and ideas is unfounded, for all that can be observed in …Read more
  •  15
    Leibniz defends two apparently inconsistent doctrines. On the one hand, he holds that substances are independent entities and that God can, at least in principle, create any possible substance whatsoever no matter what else he creates. On the other hand, Leibniz insists that some possible substances are incompossible with one another and thus cannot coexist. I first discuss three attempts of dealing with this tension in Leibniz’s work that have recently been made in the literature: the logica…Read more
  •  1
    Reflection and Rationality in Leibniz
    In Jari Kaukua & Tomas Ekenberg (eds.), Subjectivity and Selfhood in Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy, Springer. pp. 263-275. 2016.
    Leibniz repeatedly states that there is a very close connection between reflection and rationality. In his view, reflective acts somehow lead to self-consciousness, reason, the knowledge of necessary truths, and even to the moral liability of the respective substances. Whereas it might be relatively easy to see how reflective acts lead to self-consciousness, it is much harder to understand how they are connected to rationality. Why should a substance which is able to produce reflective acts ther…Read more
  • "Si omnia possibilia existerent..." Why Leibniz Denies that All Possibles Can Exist
    History of Philosophy Quarterly 33 (3): 215-236. 2016.
    Leibniz denies Spinoza’s claim that all possible things actually exist. He also denies necessitarianism, Spinoza’s claim that all truths are necessary truths. Both denials seem plausible. What is surprising, however, is Leibniz’s view that the first claim entails the second, i.e., that the existence of all possible things implies necessitarianism. Why think this? Couldn’t it be that, as a matter of contingent fact, all possible things actually exist? There seems to be no incoherency in claiming …Read more
  •  62
    This book re-examines the roles of causation and cognition in early modern philosophy. The standard historical narrative suggests that early modern thinkers abandoned Aristotelian models of formal causation in favor of doctrines that appealed to relations of efficient causation between material objects and cognizers. This narrative has been criticized in recent scholarship from at least two directions. Scholars have emphasized that we should not think of the Aristotelian tradition in such monoli…Read more
  •  56
    The Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles —the principle that no two numerically distinct things are perfectly similar—features prominently in Leibniz’s metaphysics. Despite its centrality to his philosophical system, it is surprisingly difficult to determine what modal status Leibniz ascribes to the PII. On many occasions Leibniz appears to endorse the necessity of the PII. There are a number of passages,however, where Leibniz seems to imply that numerically distinct indiscernibles are po…Read more
  •  12
    In Leibniz’ Metaphysik der Modalität, De Gruyter. pp. 265-272. 2016.
  •  11
    In Leibniz’ Metaphysik der Modalität, De Gruyter. pp. 257-264. 2016.
  •  41
    Volume 28, Issue 1, January 2020, Page 204-207.
  •  31
    Im Alltag äußern wir nicht nur Aussagen darüber, wie die Welt tatsächlich beschaffen ist, sondern auch darüber, was notwendigerweise oder möglicherweise der Fall ist. Doch worin ist die Wahrheit solcher sogenannten Modalaussagen fundiert? Auf diese Frage gibt Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz bereits in der Frühen Neuzeit eine höchst interessante Antwort: Für ihn sind modale Wahrheiten im Intellekt Gottes fundiert. Diese Modalitätskonzeption analysiert Sebastian Bender in der vorliegenden Studie auf sys…Read more
  •  7
  •  12
    In Leibniz’ Metaphysik der Modalität, De Gruyter. pp. 275-280. 2016.
  •  29
    Von Menschen und Tieren – Leibniz über Apperzeption, Reflexion und conscientia
    Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 67 (2): 214-241. 2013.
    This German paper investigates what kinds of abilities Leibniz ascribes to non-human animals and how they differ from the abilities he ascribes to humans. The paper attempts to clarify how the notions of perception, apperception, reflection, and conscientia are related for Leibniz. More specifically, the paper develops a new reading of section four of the Principles of Nature and Grace, which is a much-discussed passage in Leibniz scholarship. It argues for two claims: (i) Leibniz distinguishes …Read more
  •  12
    In Leibniz’ Metaphysik der Modalität, De Gruyter. pp. 273-274. 2016.
  •  11
    In Leibniz’ Metaphysik der Modalität, De Gruyter. pp. 1-26. 2016.