Leibniz on the Allegiance due to a de facto Power
Lorenzo Peña and Txetxu Ausín
Ought particular citizens to pledge allegiance to established powers regardless of their legitimacy? I focus on Leibniz's letter to Thomas Burnett of Kemeny. Leibniz is aware of a painful clash between two ideas dear to him in political philosophy. One is that the law cannot be overridden by matters of fact, or that a rightful entitlement has to be clung to at whatever cost, even if the struggle is bound to be unsuccessful. However, recognizing that what happens is what is implied by the notion of the best possible world God has chosen, we must reconcile ourselves to the real course of events. An obdurate resistance would mean noncompliance with the order God has chosen as the best one.
Such antithetical tendencies draw Leibniz in opposite directions as regards the duty of obedience or allegiance towards sovereigns.
Leibniz devoted a long series of pamphlets to advocating Archduke Charles's candidature to the Spanish throne during the Spanish succession war (1701-1714). That series of papers make up a particularly telling case of his general views on the allegiance due to the de facto ruler.
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