Can Parts of Space Move? On Paragraph Six of Newton’s Scholium

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    Paragraph 6 of Newton’s Scholium argues that the parts of space cannot move. A premise of the argument – that parts have individuality only through an “order of position” – has drawn distinguished modern support yet little agreement among interpretations of the paragraph. I argue that the paragraph offers an a priori, metaphysical argument for absolute motion, an argument which is invalid. That “order of position” is powerless to distinguish one part of Euclidean space from any other has gone virtually unremarked. It remains uncertain what the import of the paragraph is but it is not close to apparently similar arguments of Leibniz.