Quantity of Matter or Intrinsic Property: Why Mass Cannot Be Both

In Laura Felline, Antonio Ledda, F. Paoli & Emanuele Rossanese (eds.), New Developments in Logic and Philosophy of Science. London: College Publications. pp. 267–77 (2016)
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Abstract
I analyze the meaning of mass in Newtonian mechanics. First, I explain the notion of primitive ontology, which was originally introduced in the philosophy of quantum mechanics. Then I examine the two common interpretations of mass: mass as a measure of the quantity of matter and mass as a dynamical property. I claim that the former is ill-defined, and the latter is only plausible with respect to a metaphysical interpretation of laws of nature. I explore the following options for the status of laws: Humeanism, primitivism about laws, dispositionalism, and ontic structural realism.
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Archival date: 2018-11-18
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