A (Leibnizian) Theory of Concepts


Edward N. Zalta


Philosophiegeschichte und logische Analyse / Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy, 3 (2000), pp. 137-183


In this paper, the author develops a theory of concepts and shows that it captures many of the ideas about concepts that Leibniz expressed in his work. Concepts are first analyzed in terms of a precise background theory of abstract objects, and once concept summation and concept containment are defined, the axioms and theorems of Leibniz's calculus of concepts (in his logical papers) are derived. This analysis of concepts is then seamlessly connected with Leibniz's modal metaphysics of complete individual concepts. The fundamental theorem of Leibniz's modal metaphysics of concepts is proved, namely, whenever an object x has F contingently, then (i) the individual concept of x contains the concept F and (ii) there is a (counterpart) complete individual concept y which doesn't contain the concept F and which `appears' at some other possible world. Finally, the author shows how the concept containment theory of truth can be made precise and made consistent with a modern conception of truth.

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