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Leibniz’s Principle of Identity of Indiscernibles$
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Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198712664

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198712664.001.0001

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The meaning and status of the Identity of Indiscernibles

The meaning and status of the Identity of Indiscernibles

(p.15) 2 The meaning and status of the Identity of Indiscernibles
Leibniz’s Principle of Identity of Indiscernibles

Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that Leibniz understood the Identity of Indiscernibles as ruling out perfectly similar things, and not as ruling out things that share all their properties or accidents. The chapter also argues that Leibniz meant the principle to apply to all entities. There is a discussion of the principle’s axiomatic status in Leibniz’s philosophy, and how this is consistent with Leibniz’s attempts to derive the principle. The chapter draws a distinction between a strongly necessary and a weakly necessary version of the principle, a distinction that will be used in subsequent chapters. Finally, the chapter argues that for Leibniz the Identity of Indiscernibles means that there cannot be intrinsically qualitatively perfectly similar things, which, on Leibniz’s understanding, implies that things cannot differ only in size.

Keywords:   axioms, equality, necessity, quality, quantity, similarity

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