Abstract “Comparativism about Mass in Newtonian Gravity” – Oxford PhilPhys Research Seminar – 20 Oct 2016

Absolutism about mass asserts that facts about mass ratios are true in virtue of intrinsic masses. Comparativism about mass denies this. I present and dismiss Dasgupta’s (2013) analysis of his recent empirical adequacy argument in favour of comparativism—in the context of Newtonian Gravity. I develop and criticise two new versions of comparativism. Regularity Comparativism forms a liberalisation of Huggett’s Regularity Relationalism (2006), which uses the Mill-Ramsey-Lewis Best System’s Account to respond to Newton’s bucket argument in the analogous relationalism-substantivalism debate. To the extent that this approach works at all, I argue that it works too well: it throws away the massive baby with the bathwater. A Machian flavoured version of comparativism is more promising. Although it faces no knock-down objection, it is not without its own problems though.

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