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The Leibniz Review

Volume 18, December 2008

Anja Jauernig
Pages 1-40

Leibniz on Motion and the Equivalence of Hypotheses

Contrary to popular belief, I argue that Leibniz is not hopelessly confused about motion: Leibniz is indeed both a relativist and an absolutist about motion, as suggested by the textual evidence, but, appearances to the contrary, this is not a problem; Leibniz’s infamous doctrine of the equivalence of hypotheses is well-supported and well-integrated within Leibniz’s physical theory; Leibniz’s assertion that the simplest hypothesis of several equivalent hypotheses can be held to be true can be explicated in such a way that it makes good sense; the mere Galilean invariance of Leibniz’s conservation law does not compromise Leibniz’s relativism about motion; and Leibniz has a straightforward response to Newton’s challenge that the observable effects of the inertial forces of rotational motions empirically distinguish absolute from relative motions.