Journal Article

Why the Parts of Absolute Space are Immobile

Nick Huggett

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 59, issue 3, pages 391-407
Published in print September 2008 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online July 2008 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI:
Why the Parts of Absolute Space are Immobile

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Newton's arguments for the immobility of the parts of absolute space have been claimed to licence several proposals concerning his metaphysics. This paper clarifies Newton, first distinguishing two distinct arguments. Then, it demonstrates, contrary to Nerlich ([2005]), that Newton does not appeal to the identity of indiscernibles, but rather to a view about de re representation. Additionally, DiSalle ([1994]) claims that one argument shows Newton to be an anti-substantivalist. I agree that its premises imply a denial of a kind of substantivalism, but I show that they are inconsistent with Newton's core doctrine that not all motion is the relative motions of bodies, and so conclude that they are not part of his considered views on space.

The Arguments

The Identity Argument 2.1

Identity of indiscernibles for individuals


Identity of indiscernibles for worlds and states


Representation de re

Kinematic Relationism


Journal Article.  7834 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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