The following commentator writes:

Evolutionary Psychology is like Leibnitizian Optimisim where God is replaced by evolution. It does nothing to aid in our understanding except to reassure us that everything that is is as it should be. It's essentially an ideology of apathy.

Leibnitz's Argument goes like so:

  1. God [Evolution] has the idea of infinitely many universes.
  2. Only one of these universes can actually exist.
  3. God[Evolution]'s choices are subject to the principle of sufficient reason, that is, God[Evolution] has reason to choose one thing or another.
  4. God[Evolution] is good.
  5. Therefore, the universe that God[Evolution] chose to exist is the best of all possible worlds.

FYI, Voltaire made a nice parody of this ideology in his book Candide.

My question is: Is there evidence to suggest Evolutionary Psychology is essentially Leibnitizian Optimisim?

  • Not necessarily; evolutionary psychology derives from Darwin. The link with Leibniz's ideas is very very weak. Dec 27, 2017 at 9:37
  • I can never grasp why evolution is put forward as an alternative to God rather than as His method, but I suppose this point is off-topic. This is first time I've come across Leibnitz being daft, or so he seems to me here.
    – user20253
    Dec 27, 2017 at 13:15
  • @PeterJ. Leibniz was not daft at all; rather, he was smart enough to understand that God uses man's sins to bring about a plan which eventually we will all recognize for its exceeding greatness.
    – user3017
    Dec 27, 2017 at 14:24
  • Thanks @PédeLeão - that's helpful. I've got a lot of sympathy for where you're coming from.
    – hawkeye
    Dec 28, 2017 at 4:52
  • Well, I find Leibnitz's argument pointless. I imagine it might convince one person in a million, It is not so much an argument as a description of a speculation and I don't think it does the Divine any favours. I can't figure out why it mentions evolution at all and he uses this word in a very idiosyncratic way. But if it works for some people then fair enough. .
    – user20253
    Dec 28, 2017 at 21:59

1 Answer 1


Evolutionary psychology does not assume that evolution has produced or will produce the best of all possible worlds. Evolution has simply produced the world we have. If random variation has been at work, the resulting world is not even deterministically necesssary, let alone best.

Voltaire brilliantly caricatures Leibniz in excluding evil from the world but God may have perfectly sufficient reason to leave evil in the world. The divine plan is not intelligible to us, or need not be. This is not a plea for theism, deism, Christianity or any other religious position; I am simply setting out a logical possibility reflecting what I believe is widely taken to be our rather limited knowledge of the mind of whatever God, if any, exists.

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