Newton's substance monism, distant action, and the nature of Newton's empiricism: discussion of H. Kochiras “Gravity and Newton's substance counting problem”

This paper is a critical response to Hylarie Kochiras’ “Gravity and Newton’s substance counting problem,” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 40 267–280. First, the paper argues that Kochiras conflates substances and beings; it proceeds to show that Newton is a substance monist. The paper argues that on methodological grounds Newton has adequate resources to respond to the metaphysical problems diagnosed by Kochiras. Second, the paper argues against the claim that Newton is committed to two speculative doctrines attributed to him by Kochiras and earlier Andrew Janiak: i) the passivity of matter and ii) the principle of local causation. Third, the paper argues that while Kochiras’ arguments about Newton’s metaphysical commitments are mistaken, it qualifies the characterization of Newton as an extreme empiricist as defended by Howard Stein and Rob DiSalle. In particular, the paper shows that Newton’s empiricism was an intellectual and developmental achievement that built on non trivial speculative commitments about the nature of matter and space.Keywords: Newton; Substance; Action at a distance; Space; Matter; Empiricism.
Keywords Matter  Action at a distance  Space  Substance  Newton  Empiricism
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2010.11.004
 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: 16,774
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
Andrew Janiak (2007). Newton and the Reality of Force. Journal of the History of Philosophy 45 (1):127-147.
Steffen Ducheyne (2009). Understanding (in) Newton's Argument for Universal Gravitation. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 40 (2):227 - 258.

View all 10 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Hylarie Kochiras (2009). Gravity and Newton's Substance Counting Problem. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 40 (3):267-280.
Hylarie Kochiras (2013). Causal Language and the Structure of Force in Newton'sSystem of the World. Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 3 (2):210-235.
Andrew Janiak (2007). Newton and the Reality of Force. Journal of the History of Philosophy 45 (1):127-147.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

20 ( #142,353 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #289,836 of 1,726,249 )

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.