David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 40 (1):39-68 (1989)
The standard mathematical apparatus of classical electromagnetic theory in Minkowski space-time allows an interpretation in terms of retarded distant action, as well as the standard field interpretation. This interpretation is here presented and defended as a scientifically significant alternative to the field theory, casting doubt upon the common view that classical electromagnetic theory provides scientific support for the physical existence of fields as fundamental entities. The various types of consideration normally thought to provide evidence for the existence of the electromagnetic field are surveyed and analyzed in retarded distant action terms, from both a contemporary viewpoint and with regard to the late 19th century context within which the field theory was first generally accepted. It is concluded that acceptance of the field as real is not evidentially justified in either context, and that the customary historical explanation of the triumph of field theory as due to its empirical superiority is inadequate. An alternative explanation is suggested but not developed, appealing to non-empirical factors associated with the research program based on the conservation of energy.
|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
Jerzy Giedymin (1991). Geometrical and Physical Conventionalism of Henri Poincar'e in Epistemological Formulation. Studies in the History and Philsophy of Science 22 (1):1-22.
Similar books and articles
Mathias Frisch (2005). Inconsistency, Asymmetry, and Non-Locality: A Philosophical Investigation of Classical Electrodynamics. Oxford University Press.
Jerzy Gołosz (1999). On Field's Argument for Substantivalism. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 13 (1):5 – 16.
Hans Günter Dosch, Volkhard F. Müller & Norman Sieroka, Quantum Field Theory, its Concepts Viewed From a Semiotic Perspective.
David Malament (2004). On the Time Reversal Invariance of Classical Electromagnetic Theory. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 35 (2):295-315.
Gordon Belot (2003). Symmetry and Gauge Freedom. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 34 (2):189-225.
Herbert Dingle (1960). Relativity and Electromagnetism: An Epistemological Appraisal. Philosophy of Science 27 (3):233-253.
Leonid G. Kreidik (1996). Alternative Picture of the World. George Shpenkov.
J. McFadden (2002). Synchronous Firing and its Influence on the Brain's Electromagnetic Field: Evidence for an Electromagnetic Field Theory of Consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies 9 (4):23-50.
Mario Bacelar Valente (2011). A Case for an Empirically Demonstrable Notion of the Vacuum in Quantum Electrodynamics Independent of Dynamical Fluctuations. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 42 (2):241-261.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads8 ( #187,474 of 1,413,409 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #154,345 of 1,413,409 )
How can I increase my downloads?