Theoretical Philosophy Work in Progress Seminar Week 5 TT17

Theoretical Philosophy

Speaker: Martin Pickup (University of Oxford)

Title: The Infinity of Analysis and Leibniz’s Problems of Proof

Abstract: What does it take for a proposition to be contingent? This is a question Leibniz struggled with. His commentators have struggled after him. One of the answers he gave involved infinite analysis: a proposition is contingent when and only when it cannot be analysed finitely. There is an influential challenge to this account of contingency given by Adams, called the Problem of Lucky Proof. A more general form of this problem, credited to Maher and subsequently named by Rodriguez-Pereyra and Lodge, is called the Problem of Guaranteed Proof. In short, the problems point out that some contingent propositions seem not to have an infinite analysis. In this paper I aim to offer a new solution these problems on Leibniz’s behalf, and hence show how his infinite analysis account might work after all.

Organising department: Faculty of Philosophy

Convenors: Martin Pickup and Stephen Wright