David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 16 (1):27 – 37 (2002)
Einstein's theories of special and general relativity are unanimously praised by scientists for their extraordinary beauty to the extent that some consider the latter to be the most beautiful theory in physics. The grounds for these assertions are assessed here and it is concluded that the beauty of Einstein's theories can be attributed to two of their aspects. The first is that they incorporate all possible ingredients that constitute the beauty of theories: simplicity, symmetry, invariance, unification, etc. The second concerns the perfect logical consistency of Einstein's theories, a crucial factor in the unanimous praise of their beauty. Theories other than Einstein's are also assessed here, namely, electromagnetism and the various quantum theories, and it is concluded that all these suffer from logical flaws. This has resulted in a lack of consensus among scientists with respect to their beauty. Consequently, the unanimous claim that Einstein's theories are of superior beauty as compared to other theories in physics is hereby substantiated.
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