Is There a Problem of Action at a Temporal Distance?

SATS 8 (1):138-154 (2007)
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Abstract
It has been claimed that the only way to avoid action at a temporal distance in a temporal continuum is if effects occur simultaneously with their causes, and that in fact Newton’s second law of motion illustrates that they truly are simultaneous. Firstly, I point out that this interpretation of Newton’s second law is problematic because in classical mechanics ‘acceleration’ denotes a vector quantity. It is controversial whether vectors themselves are changes as opposed to properties of a change, and therefore if they can count as effects. Secondly, I argue that the problem of action at a temporal distance is generated by the assumption that forces operate on their effects, but that this assumption is not easily reconciled with Newton’s third law of motion, which is best read as saying that forces operate between objects. On that reading, there is no problem of action at a temporal distance even in a temporal continuum just as long as interacting objects coexist.
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Archival date: 2017-03-17
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