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Foundations of Physics

, Volume 48, Issue 5, pp 591–609 | Cite as

Against Laplacian Reduction of Newtonian Mass to Spatiotemporal Quantities

  • Niels C. M. Martens
Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Philosophical Aspects in the Foundations of Physics

Abstract

Laplace wondered about the minimal choice of initial variables and parameters corresponding to a well-posed initial value problem. Discussions of Laplace’s problem in the literature have focused on choosing between spatiotemporal variables relative to absolute space (i.e. substantivalism) or merely relative to other material bodies (i.e. relationalism) and between absolute masses (i.e. absolutism) or merely mass ratios (i.e. comparativism). This paper extends these discussions of Laplace’s problem, in the context of Newtonian Gravity, by asking whether mass needs to be included in the initial state at all, or whether a purely spatiotemporal initial state suffices. It is argued that mass indeed needs to be included; removing mass from the initial state drastically reduces the predictive and explanatory power of Newtonian Gravity.

Keywords

Mass Newtonian gravity Reduction Laplace Mach 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Theoretical Particle Physics and CosmologyRWTH AachenAachenGermany

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