Inertia in Temporal Modification

Inertia is enshrined in Newton’s first law of motion, a body at rest or in uniform motion remains in that state unless a force is applied to it. Now, consider (1). (1) Pat stopped the car before it hit the tree. Can we conclude from (1) that the car struck the tree? Not without further information such as that supplied in (2). (2) But the bus behind kept going. A post-condition for Pat stopping the car is that the car be at rest. To satisfy a pre-condition for the car hitting the tree (namely, that the car not be at rest), inertia requires that some intervening force act on the car (as hinted, for example, by (2)). In the absence of such a force, (1) would appear to suggest that Pat prevented a collision between car and tree. Exactly what bit of physics are we importing into natural language interpretation here? Oversimplified, Newton’s first law of motion says: no change without force. Identifying force with cause, we come to the slogan no temporality without cause, capturing in a phrase the proposal from Steedman 2000 that..
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Thomas J. McLaughlin (2008). Nature and Inertia. Review of Metaphysics 62 (2):251-284.
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