David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Physicists who work on canonical quantum gravity will sometimes remark that the general covariance of general relativity is responsible for many of the thorniest technical and conceptual problems in their field.1 In particular, it is sometimes alleged that one can trace to this single source a variety of deep puzzles about the nature of time in quantum gravity, deep disagreements surrounding the notion of ‘observable’ in classical and quantum gravity, and deep questions about the nature of the existence of spacetime in general relativity. Philosophers who think about these things are sometimes skeptical about such claims. We have all learned that Kretschmann was quite correct to urge against Einstein that the “General Theory of Relativity” was no such thing, since any theory could be cast in a generally covariant form, and hence the general covariance of general relativity could not have any physical content, let alone bear the kind of weight that Einstein expected it to.2 Friedman’s assessment is widely accepted: “As Kretschmann first pointed out in 1917, the principle of general covariance has no physical content whatever: it specifies no particular physical theory; rather, it merely expresses our commitment to a certain style of formulating physical theories” (1984, p. 44). Such considerations suggest that general covariance, as a technically crucial but physically contentless feature of general relativity, simply cannot be the source of any significant conceptual or physical problems.3 Physicists are, of course, conscious of the weight of Kretschmann’s points against Einstein. Yet they are considerably more ambivalent than their philosophical colleagues. Consider Kuchaˇr’s conclusion at the end of a discussion of this topic.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library||
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
J. Earman (2006). Two Challenges to the Requirement of Substantive General Covariance. Synthese 148 (2):443--68.
Jeroen van Dongen (2010). Einstein's Unification. Cambridge University Press.
Roger Penrose & C. J. Isham (eds.) (1986). Quantum Concepts in Space and Time. New York ;Oxford University Press.
Gordon Belot (1996). Why General Relativity Does Need an Interpretation. Philosophy of Science 63 (3):88.
John D. Norton (2003). General Covariance, Gauge Theories and the Kretschmann Objection. In Katherine Brading & Elena Castellani (eds.), Symmetries in Physics: Philosophical Reflections. Cambridge University Press. 110--123.
Gordon Belot & John Earman (2001). Pre-Socratic Quantum Gravity. In Craig Callender & Nick Huggett (eds.), Physics Meets Philosophy at the Planck Scale. Cambridge University Press. 213--55.
Added to index2009-08-04
Total downloads47 ( #37,439 of 1,099,749 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #303,541 of 1,099,749 )
How can I increase my downloads?