Peace, Justice and Computation: Leibniz’ Program and the Moral and Political Significance of Church’s Theorem

  • Michael Detlefsen
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 305)


Throughout his life, Leibniz gave himself to projects he saw as having the potential to improve the conditions of human life. Among these, none was more important to him than the development of his ars combinatoria. This ambitious project, sketched in his earliest writings (cf. De Arte Combinatoria, 1666) and returned to again and again throughout the remainder of his life (cf. letter of January 10, 1714 to Nicolas Remond1), was originally divided into three sub-projects: (i) the calculus ratiocinator (calculus of reasoning), in which he hoped to codify, in mechanical form, all acceptable forms of logical reasoning, (ii) the characteristica universalis (or universal characteristic), intended to serve as a logically perspicuous language for the expression of all rational thought, and (iii) the encyclopedia of human knowledge, intended to catalog the whole of received human knowledge.2 Leibniz believed that, taken together, these three devices would provide the basis for significant improvements in human knowledge and in the condition of human life generally.


Decision Problem Epistemic Justice Logical Knowledge Epistemic Good Epistemic Claim 
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  2. Leibniz, G. W. 1961 Die Philosophische Schriften von Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, vol. VII (C. I. Gerhardt, editor), Georg Olms, Hildesheim.Google Scholar
  3. Leibniz, G. W. 1965 Monadology and other philosophical essays (P. Schrecker, translator), Bobbs-Merrill, New York.Google Scholar
  4. Leibniz, G. W. 1966 Theodicy (abridged) (D. Allen, editor), Bobbs-Merrill, New York.Google Scholar
  5. Leibniz, G. W. 1969 Leibniz: Philosophical papers and letters, second edition (L. Loemker, translator and editor), Reidel, Dordrecht.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2001

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  • Michael Detlefsen

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