Affiliations: New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics
and Life Sciences, Department of Philosophy, University at Buffalo, NY, USA.
Abstract: Newton distinguishes between absolute and relative places. Both
types of places endure through time and may be occupied by various objects at
various times. But unlike absolute places, each relative place stands in fixed
spatial relations with one or more reference objects. Relative places with
independent reference objects (e.g., a ship and the earth) may move relative to
one another. Relative places, not absolute places, are used to locate objects and
track their movements in common-sense reasoning and in disciplines such as
biology, engineering, and geology. The purpose of this paper is to develop a
formal theory for reasoning about relative places and their changing relations
to both other places and to material objects.