Harmonizing the Poles: A Note on Leibniz’s Notion of Justice

Noa Naaman-Zauderer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Developing his new definition of justice in the six drafts of the Elements of Natural Law (1670–1671), Leibniz endeavors to settle two seemingly excluding assumptions underlying his preconception of justice. The first is that justice demands an active concern for the good of others. To be just, Leibniz insists, one must seek the good of others for its own sake, considering it an independent end and not only a means to one’s own benefit. The second assumption is that “there is no one who deliberately does anything except for the sake of his own good.” Adhering to the egoistic psychology of Hobbes and Carneades, Leibniz holds that “we seek the good also of those whom we love for the sake of the pleasure which we ourselves get from their happiness.” In the fourth draft, Leibniz appears to find the key to the solution of his problem. “The answer,” he writes, “certainly depends upon the nature of love.” “To love,” as he states earlier in this essay, “is to find pleasure in the happiness of another.” In this chapter I attempt of analyze the solution that Leibniz offers in this early essay and to question its coherency. I will argue further that an interesting hint of a possible solution to the problem may be drawn from his later writings on justice, where his notion of disinterested love becomes more explicit.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLogic, Argumentation and Reasoning
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages9
StatePublished - 2014

Publication series

NameLogic, Argumentation and Reasoning
ISSN (Print)2214-9120
ISSN (Electronic)2214-9139


  • Charity
  • Empathy
  • Justice
  • Love
  • Wisdom


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