David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
In Michael Friedman, Mary Domski & Michael Dickson (eds.), Discourse on a New Method: Reinvigorating the Marriage of History and Philosophy of Science. Open Court. 359--86 (2009)
In recounting his discovery of special relativity, Einstein recalled a debt to the philosophical writings of Hume and Mach. I review the path Einstein took to special relativity and urge that, at a critical juncture, he was aided decisively not by any specific doctrine of space and time, but by a general account of concepts that Einstein found in Hume and Mach’s writings. That account required that concepts, used to represent the physical, must be properly grounded in experience. In so far as they extended beyond that grounding, they were fictional and to be abjured (Mach) or at best tolerated (Hume). Einstein drew a different moral. These fictional concepts revealed an arbitrariness in our physical theorizing and may still be introduced through freely chosen definitions, as long as these definitions do not commit us to false presumptions. After years of failed efforts to conform electrodynamics to the principle of relativity and with his frustration mounting, Einstein applied this account to the concept of simultaneity. The resulting definition of simultaneity provided the reconceptualization that solved the problem in electrodynamics and led directly to the special theory of relativity.
|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
Max Jammer (2006). Concepts of Simultaneity: From Antiquity to Einstein and Beyond. Johns Hopkins University Press.
Arthur I. Miller (1982). On Einstein's Invention of Special Relativity. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1982:377 - 402.
Dennis Dieks, The Adolescence of Relativity: Einstein, Minkowski, and the Philosophy of Space and Time.
Lincoln Kinnear Barnett (1957/2005). The Universe and Dr. Einstein. Dover Publications.
Kenneth F. Schaffner (1982). The Historiography of Special Relativity: Comments on the Papers by John Earman, Clark Glymour, and Robert Rynasiewicz and by Arthur Miller. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1982:417 - 428.
Nicholas Maxwell (1993). Induction and Scientific Realism: Einstein Versus Van Fraassen Part Three: Einstein, Aim-Oriented Empiricism and the Discovery of Special and General Relativity. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (2):275-305.
Max Born (1965). Einstein's Theory of Relativity. New York, Dover Publications.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads93 ( #12,636 of 1,101,094 )
Recent downloads (6 months)3 ( #115,950 of 1,101,094 )
How can I increase my downloads?