[hist-analytic] Materialism and mass as a unit of measurement

Roger Bishop Jones rbj at rbjones.com
Sat Jan 29 11:26:12 EST 2011


Steve,

I didn't understand much of your reply Steve, but we may be 
on a hide-into-nothing since I don't know anything of Block-
Stalnaker.

So far I don't see anything that has force against 
materialism.  Possibly you could amend your argument to 
reflect the points I made and post it again.

Other questions:

I have not grasped what you are calling the "ambiguity" of
E=MC^2.
You say my points all concern this, but I would say if 
anything that they all relate to the distinction between 
total mass and rest mass, and I don't see an ambiguity in
 e = mc^2 which applies really to both.

In general I think in relativistic equations you should 
always take M to be total mass.
On the occasions where rest mass is mentioned, it is always 
specially indicated, usually as m_0. (m subscript zero).

On the question of whether there is a problem with units, 
again I don't see it.

Are you rejecting the materialist position because you don't 
think that a proton really is material, because it has no 
rest mass?

Presumably you can't be a rest-materialist and have a theory 
in which the only thing which exists is rest mass.
(not without rejecting special relativity)
But so long as your materialism admits mass in general then 
photons have their place, as does anything which has either 
inertia or energy.

I don't know what he does about abstract objects.
It would definitely be tricky if you were not allowed at 
least to talk as if abstract entities existed, but you don't 
have to suppose that they are constituents of the contingent 
world.

Roger Jones




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