Length matters: The einstein–swann correspondence and the constructive approach to the special theory of relativity

I discuss a rarely mentioned correspondence between Einstein and Swann on the constructive approach to the special theory of relativity, in which Einstein points out that the attempts to construct a dynamical explanation of relativistic kinematical effects require postulating a fundamental length scale in the level of the dynamics. I use this correspondence to shed light on several issues under dispute in current philosophy of spacetime that were highlighted recently in Harvey Brown’s monograph Physical Relativity, namely, Einstein’s view on the distinction between principle and constructive theories, and the consequences of pursuing the constructive approach in the context of spacetime theories. r 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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    References found in this work BETA
    Yuri Balashov & Michel Janssen (2003). Critical Notice: Presentism and Relativity. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 54:327--46.

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    Citations of this work BETA
    Meir Hemmo & Amit Hagar (2013). The Primacy of Geometry. Studies in the History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (3):357-364.
    Michel Janssen (2008). Drawing the Line Between Kinematics and Dynamics in Special Relativity. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 40 (1):26-52.
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