The Nature of a Constant of Nature: the Case of G

Philosophy of Science 90 (4):797-81 (2022)
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Abstract

Physics presents us with a symphony of natural constants: G, h, c, etc. Up to this point, constants have received comparatively little philosophical attention. In this paper I provide an account of dimensionful constants, in particular the gravitational constant. I propose that they represent inter-quantity structure in the form of relations between quantities with different dimensions. I use this account of G to settle a debate over whether mass scalings are symmetries of Newtonian Gravitation. I argue that they are not, but only if we interpret mass anti-quidditistically. This is analogous to anti-haecceitism in the presence of spacetime symmetries.

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Caspar Jacobs
Leiden University

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