Principle of Sufficient Reason

Discipline: Philosophy

Principle that there must be a sufficient reason - causal or otherwise - for why whatever exists or occurs does so, and does so in the place, time and manner that it does.

The principle goes back to at least the early 5th century BC - being used by Parmenides (see Eleaticism) in his Fragment 8, lines 9-10 - but it is most famously associated with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716), who used it to exclude all arbitrariness, and to account for 'truths of fact' (while the law of contradiction accounted for 'truths of reason').

He also derived the identity of indiscernibles from it.

Also see: causal principle, principle of perfection

H G Alexander, ed., The Leibniz-Clark Correspondence (1956)


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