David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Foundations of Science 1 (2):299-314 (1995)
The logical positivists adopted Poincare's doctrine of the conventionality of geometry and made it a key part of their philosophical interpretation of relativity theory. I argue, however, that the positivists deeply misunderstood Poincare's doctrine. For Poincare's own conception was based on the group-theoretical picture of geometry expressed in the Helmholtz-Lie solution of the space problem, and also on a hierarchical picture of the sciences according to which geometry must be presupposed be any properly physical theory. But both of this pictures are entirely incompatible with the radically new conception of space and geometry articulated in the general theory of relativity. The logical positivists's attempt to combine Poincare's conventionalism with Einstein's new theory was therefore, in the end, simply incoherent. Underlying this problem, moreover, was a fundamental philosophical difference between Poincare's and the positivists concerning the status of synthetic a priori truths.
|Keywords||Conventionalism Geometry Logical positivism Relativity theory Group theory Synthetic a priori|
|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
Rudolf Carnap (1937). The Logical Syntax of Language. London, K. Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd..
Citations of this work BETA
Steven Bland (2013). Scepticism, Relativism, and the Structure of Epistemic Frameworks. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (4):539-544.
Marco Giovanelli (2013). Talking at Cross-Purposes: How Einstein and the Logical Empiricists Never Agreed on What They Were Disagreeing About. Synthese 190 (17):3819-3863.
Marco Giovanelli (2013). The Forgotten Tradition: How the Logical Empiricists Missed the Philosophical Significance of the Work of Riemann, Christoffel and Ricci. Erkenntnis 78 (6):1219-1257.
Lefteris Farmakis (2008). Did Tom Kuhn Actually Meet Tom Bayes? Erkenntnis 68 (1):41 - 53.
Rouslan Koumakhov (2014). Conventionalism, Coordination, and Mental Models: From Poincaré to Simon. Journal of Economic Methodology 21 (3):251-272.
Similar books and articles
Carsten Klein (2001). Conventionalism and Realism in Hans Reichenbach's Philosophy of Geometry. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 15 (3):243 – 251.
Ronny Desmet (2008). How Did Whitehead Become Einstein's Antagonist? Process Studies 37 (2):5-23.
Guillermo Rosado Haddock (2012). Husserl's Conception of Physical Theories and Physical Geometry in the Time of the Prolegomena : A Comparison with Duhem's and Poincaré's Views. [REVIEW] Axiomathes 22 (1):171-193.
Yemima Ben-Menahem (2001). Convention: Poincaré and Some of His Critics. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (3):471-513.
Terry F. Godlove Jr (2009). Poincaré, Kant, and the Scope of Mathematical Intuition. Review of Metaphysics 62 (4):779-801.
David Stump (1991). Poincaré's Thesis of the Translatability of Euclidean and Non-Euclidean Geometries. Noûs 25 (5):639-657.
S. B. (1997). Henri Poincare and Bruno de Finetti: Conventions and Scientific Reasoning. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 28 (4):657-679.
G. Granek (2000). Poincare's Contributions to Relativistic Dynamics. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 31 (1):15-48.
Colin Mclarty (1997). Poincaré: Mathematics & Logic & Intuition. Philosophia Mathematica 5 (2):97-115.
F. P. O'Gorman (1977). Poincaré's Conventionalism of Applied Geometry. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 8 (4):303-340.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads178 ( #10,997 of 1,726,249 )
Recent downloads (6 months)8 ( #84,767 of 1,726,249 )
How can I increase my downloads?