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Berkeley on true motion

Harkema, Scott (2024) Berkeley on true motion. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 105. pp. 165-174. ISSN 00393681

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Studies of the Early Modern debate concerning absolute and relative space and motion often ignore the significance of the concept of true motion in this debate. Even philosophers who denied the existence of absolute space maintained that true motions could be distinguished from merely apparent ones. In this paper, I examine Berkeley's endorsement of this distinction and the problems it raises. First, Berkeley's endorsement raises a problem of consistency with his other philosophical commitments, namely his idealism. Second, Berkeley's endorsement raises a problem of adequacy, namely whether Berkeley can provide an adequate account of what grounds the distinction between true and merely apparent motion. In this paper, I argue that sensitivity to Berkeley's distinction between what is true in the metaphysical, scientific, and vulgar domains can address both the consistency and the adequacy problems. I argue that Berkeley only accepts true motion in the scientific and vulgar domains, and not the metaphysical. There is thus no inconsistency between his endorsement of true motion in science and ordinary language, and his metaphysical idealism. Further, I suggest that sensitivity to these three domains shows that Berkeley possesses resources to give an adequate account of how true motions are discovered in natural science.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Subjects: General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
Depositing User: Dr. Scott Harkema
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2024 03:04
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2024 03:04
Item ID: 23505
Journal or Publication Title: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Publisher: Elsevier
DOI or Unique Handle:
Subjects: General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
Date: June 2024
Page Range: pp. 165-174
Volume: 105
ISSN: 00393681

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