David Efird
PhD: Oxford University; Last affiliation: University of York
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 Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  Philosophy of Mind
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ISBN(s) 0031-8205
DOI 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2009.00309.x
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References found in this work BETA

There Might Be Nothing.Thomas Baldwin - 1996 - Analysis 56 (4):231–238.
The Subtraction Argument for Metaphysical Nihilism.Tom Stoneham - 2005 - Journal of Philosophy 102 (6):303 - 325.
There Might Be Nothing.T. Baldwin - 1996 - Analysis 56 (4):231-238.

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Citations of this work BETA

Negative Properties—Negative Objects?David Hommen - 2018 - Acta Analytica 33 (4):395-412.

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Subtractability and Concreteness.Ross P. Cameron - 2007 - Philosophical Quarterly 57 (227):273 - 279.
Justifying Metaphysical Nihilism: A Response to Cameron.David Efird & Tom Stoneham - 2009 - Philosophical Quarterly 59 (234):132-137.
The Subtraction Argument(S).Alexander Paseau - 2006 - Dialectica 60 (2):145–156.


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