The subtraction argument for the possibility of free mass

Could an object have only mass and no other property? In giving an affirmative answer to this question, Jonathan Schaffer (2003, pp. 136-8) proposes what he calls ‘the subtraction argument’ for ‘the possibility of free mass’. In what follows, we aim to assess the cogency of this argument in comparison with an argument of the same general form which has also been termed a subtraction argument, namely, Thomas Baldwin’s (1996) subtraction argument for metaphysical nihilism, which is the claim that there might have been no concrete objects. The comparison will be instructive because Baldwin’s argument has been the subject of considerable recent debate (of particular relevance for current purposes are Paseau 2002, Authors 2005, and Paseau 2006), and the lesson of this debate seems to be that subtraction arguments, such as Baldwin’s and Schaffer’s, are faced with a dilemma: either they are invalid or they fail to be suasive. We outline how Baldwin’s argument can be reformulated so as to avoid both horns of this dilemma, and we then argue that Schaffer’s argument cannot so avoid the dilemma.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 13,009
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

View all 7 references

Citations of this work BETA
Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

17 ( #110,826 of 1,410,123 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #107,970 of 1,410,123 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.