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The (Un)detectability of Absolute Newtonian Masses

Martens, Niels C.M. (2019) The (Un)detectability of Absolute Newtonian Masses. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Absolutism about mass claims that mass ratios obtain in virtue of absolute masses. Comparativism denies this. Dasgupta (2013) argues for comparativism about mass, in the context of Newtonian Gravity. Such an argument requires proving that comparativism is empirically adequate. Dasgupta equates this to showing that absolute masses are undetectable, and attempts to do so. This paper develops an argument by Baker to the contrary: absolute masses are in fact empirically meaningful, that is detectable (in some weak sense). Additionally, it is argued that the requirement of empirical adequacy should not be cashed out in terms of undetectability in the first place. The paper closes by sketching the possible strategies that remain for the comparativist. Along the way a framework is developed that is useful for thinking about these issues: Ozma games---how could one explain to an alien civilisation what an absolute mass is?


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Martens, Niels C.M.martensniels@gmail.com0000-0002-2839-1387
Additional Information: Forthcoming in Synthese
Keywords: physical quantities, comparativism, absolutism, mass, Newtonian gravity, detectability
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Depositing User: Dr Niels C M Martens
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2019 14:22
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2019 14:22
Item ID: 15919
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Date: 2019
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/15919

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