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The Actual and the PossibleModality and Metaphysics in Modern Philosophy$
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Mark Sinclair

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198786436

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198786436.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 18 April 2021

Wolff’s Close Shave with Fatalism

Wolff’s Close Shave with Fatalism

(p.45) 2 Wolff’s Close Shave with Fatalism
The Actual and the Possible

Stephan Leuenberger

Oxford University Press

Modality played a central role in Christian Wolff’s philosophy. In his extensive writings on the topic, he was unusually explicit about the definitions of modal notions and what sort of principles they satisfy. His alleged endorsement of fatalism prompted his expulsion from Prussia in 1723, an event that caused a major stir among Europe’s intellectual circles. This chapter examines whether Wolff was indeed committed to fatalism, despite his protestations to the contrary. It is argued that Wolff’s theory of propositions allows him to avoid the letter of view: there are truths that are not necessary. However, Wolff fails to make room for the kind of contingency in which his opponents were interested. On the interpretation proposed, Wolff’s view is in the spirit of fatalism.

Keywords:   Wolff, absolute necessity, hypothetical necessity, fatalism, contingentism

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