Earman and Norton argue that manifold realism leads to inequivalence of Leibniz-shifted space-time models, with undesirable consequences such as indeterminism. I respond that intrinsic axiomatization of space-time geometry shows the variant models to be isomorphic with respect to the physically meaningful geometric predicates, and therefore certainly physically equivalent because no theory can characterize its models more closely than this. The contrary philosophical arguments involve confusions about identity and representation of space-time points, fostered by extrinsic coordinate formulations and irrelevant modal metaphysics. (...) I conclude that neither the revived Einstein hole argument nor the original Leibniz indiscernibility argument have any force against manifold realism. (shrink)
Relationist theories of space or space-time based on embedding of a physical relational system A into a corresponding geometrical system B raise problems associated with the degree of uniqueness of the embedding. Such uniqueness problems are familiar in the representational theory of measurement (RTM), and are dealt with by imposing a condition of uniqueness of embeddings up to composition with an "admissible transformation" of the space B. Friedman (1983) presents an alternative treatment of the uniqueness problem for embedding relationist theories, (...) developed independently of RTM. Friedman's approach differs from that of RTM in securing uniqueness by adding new primitives to the physical system A in contrast to the RTM approach which adds new axioms. Friedman's proposal has recently been developed and defended by Catton and Solomon (1988). This method of solving the uniqueness problem is here argued to be substantially inferior to the RTM method, both in practice and in principle. In practice we find that in none of the concrete examples offered to illustrate the method is the uniqueness problem actually solved in general. Moreover we find that in the most interesting case (addition to the system A of a finite number of relations of finite degree) the method is in principle incapable of success for mathematical reasons. In addition to these technical difficulties there are compelling methodological reasons for preferring the RTM method to the method of adding primitives. (shrink)
I outline an intrinsic (coordinate-free) formulation of classical particle mechanics, making no use of set theory or second-order logic. Physical quantities are accepted as real, but are constrained only by elementary axioms. This contrasts with the formulations of Field and Burgess, in which space-time regions are accepted as real and are assumed to satisfy second-order comprehension axioms. The present formulation is both logically simpler and physically more realistic. The theory is finitely axiomatizable, elementary, and even quantifier-free, but is provably empirically (...) equivalent to the standard coordinate formulations. (shrink)
The view that scientific theories are partially interpreted deductive systems (theoretical deductivism) is defended against recent criticisms by Hempel. Hempel argues that the reliance of theoretical inferences (both from observation to theory and also from theory to theory) uponceteris paribus conditions orprovisos must prevent theories from establishing deductive connections among observations. In reply I argue, first, that theoretical deductivism does not in fact require the establishing of such deductive connections: I offer alternative H-D analyses of these inferences. Second, I argue (...) that when the refined character of scientific observation is taken into account, we find that a theorymay after all establish such deductive connections among scientific observations, without reliance on provisos.These conclusions are based on the multi-level Popperian contextualist account of empirical interpretation sketched in a previous paper. As before, I claim that the supposed objections to theoretical deductivism depend upon questionable empiricist theses unnecessarily conjoined with theoretical deductivism by the Logical Positivists. Theoretical deductivism itself is unaffected by these arguments, and remains (when empirical interpretation is properly analyzed) the best account of scientific theories. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
Developing some suggestions of Ramsey (1925), elementary logic is formulated with respect to an arbitrary categorial system rather than the categorial system of Logical Atomism which is retained in standard elementary logic. Among the many types of non-standard categorial systems allowed by this formalism, it is argued that elementary logic with predicates of variable degree occupies a distinguished position, both for formal reasons and because of its potential value for application of formal logic to natural language and natural science. This (...) is illustrated by use of such a logic to construct a theory of quantity which is argued to be scientifically superior to existing theories of quantity based on standard categorial systems, since it yields real-valued scales without the need for unrealistic existence assumptions. This provides empirical evidence for the hypothesis that the categorial structure of the physical world itself is non-standard in this sense. (shrink)
Mundy (1983) presented the formal apparatus of certain relationist theories of space and space-time taking quantitative relations as primitive. The present paper discusses the philosophical and physical interpretation of such theories, and replies to some objections to such theories and to relationism in general raised in Field (1985). Under an appropriate second-order naturalistic Platonist interpretation of the formalism, quantitative relationist theories are seen to be entirely comparable to spatialist ones in respect of the issues raised by Field. Moreover, it appears (...) that even if accepted as sound, Field's general line of criticism would not diminish the significance of relationism for philosophy of science, since this derives primarily from its connection to physical rather than to mathematical or philosophical ontology. (shrink)
Extensive measurement theory is developed in terms of theratio of two elements of an arbitrary (not necessarily Archimedean) extensive structure; thisextensive ratio space is a special case of a more general structure called aratio space. Ratio spaces possess a natural family of numerical scales (r-scales) which are definable in non-representational terms; ther-scales for an extensive ratio space thus constitute a family of numerical scales (extensive r-scales) for extensive structures which are defined in a non-representational manner. This is interpreted as involving (...) arelational theory of quantity which contrasts in certain respects with thequalitative theory of quantity implicit in standard representational extensive measurement theory. The representational properties of extensiver-scales are investigated, and found to coincide withweak extensive measurement in the sense of Holman. This provides support for the thesis (developed in a separate paper) that weak extensive measurement is a more natural model of actual physical extensive scales than is the standard model using strong extensive measurement. Finally, the present apparatus is applied to slightly simplify the existing necessary and sufficient conditions for strong extensive measurement. (shrink)
The formal methods of the representational theory of measurement (RTM) are applied to the extensive scales of physical science, with some modifications of interpretation and of formalism. The interpretative modification is in the direction of theoretical realism rather than the narrow empiricism which is characteristic of RTM. The formal issues concern the formal representational conditions which extensive scales should be assumed to satisfy; I argue in the physical case for conditions related to weak rather than strong extensive measurement, in the (...) sense of Holman 1969 and Colonius 1978. The problem of justifying representational conditions is addressed in more detail than is customary in the RTM literature; this continues the study of the foundations of RTM begun in an earlier paper. The most important formal consequence of the present interpretation of physical extensive scales is that the basic existence and uniqueness properties of scales (representation theorem) may be derived without appeal to an Archimedean axiom; this parallels a conclusion drawn by Narens for representations of qualitative probability. It is concluded that there is no physical basis for postulation of an Archimedean axiom. (shrink)
A formal theory of quantity T Q is presented which is realist, Platonist, and syntactically second-order (while logically elementary), in contrast with the existing formal theories of quantity developed within the theory of measurement, which are empiricist, nominalist, and syntactically first-order (while logically non-elementary). T Q is shown to be formally and empirically adequate as a theory of quantity, and is argued to be scientifically superior to the existing first-order theories of quantity in that it does not depend upon empirically (...) unsupported assumptions concerning existence of physical objects (e.g. that any two actual objects have an actual sum). The theory T Q supports and illustrates a form of naturalistic Platonism, for which claims concerning the existence and properties of universals form part of natural science, and the distinction between accidental generalizations and laws of nature has a basis in the second-order structure of the world. (shrink)
Minkowski geometry is axiomatized in terms of the asymmetric binary relation of optical connectibility, using ten first-order axioms and the second-order continuity axiom. An axiom system in terms of the symmetric binary optical connection relation is also presented. The present development is much simpler than the corresponding work of Robb, upon which it is modeled.
The numerical representations of measurement, geometry and kinematics are here subsumed under a general theory of representation. The standard theories of meaningfulness of representational propositions in these three areas are shown to be special cases of two theories of meaningfulness for arbitrary representational propositions: the theories based on unstructured and on structured representation respectively. The foundations of the standard theories of meaningfulness are critically analyzed and two basic assumptions are isolated which do not seem to have received adequate justification: the (...) assumption that a proposition invariant under the appropriate group is therefore meaningful, and the assumption that representations should be unique up to a transformation of the appropriate group. A general theory of representational meaningfulness is offered, based on a semantic and syntactic analysis of representational propositions. Two neglected features of representational propositions are formalized and made use of: (a) that such propositions are induced by more general propositions defined for other structures than the one being represented, and (b) that the true purpose of representation is the application of the theory of the representing system to the represented system. On the basis of these developments, justifications are offered for the two problematic assumptions made by the existing theories. (shrink)
In Mundy [a] I offered an axiomatic analysis of the physical content of the kinematics of special relativity which suggests that, contrary to common belief, there is no incompatibility between special relativity and spacelike (faster-than-light) causation. An anonymous referee pointed out that this conclusion might have some bearing on problems in the interpretation of quantum mechanics such as the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen problem, since one line of solution to these problems involves the postulation of spacelike causal processes. The present note will develop (...) this idea. (shrink)
The standard coordinate-based formulation of the space-time theory of special relativity (Minkowski geometry) is philosophically unsatisfactory for various reasons. We here present an explicit axiomatic formulation of that theory in terms of primitives with a definitive physical interpretation, prove its equivalence to the standard coordinate formulation, and draw various philosophical conclusions concerning the physical content and assumptions of the space-time theory. The prevalent causal interpretation of physical Minkowski geometry deriving from Reichenbach is criticised on the basis of the present formulation.
We here present explicit relational theories of a class of geometrical systems (namely, inner product spaces) which includes Euclidean space and Minkowski spacetime. Using an embedding approach suggested by the theory of measurement, we prove formally that our theories express the entire empirical content of the corresponding geometric theory in terms of empirical relations among a finite set of elements (idealized point-particles or events) thought of as embedded in the space. This result is of interest within the general phenomenalist tradition (...) as well as the theory of space and time, since it seems to be the first example of an explicit phenomenalist reconstruction of a realist theory which is provably equivalent to it in observational consequences. The interesting paper "On the Space-Time Ontology of Physical Theories" by Ken Manders, Philosophy of Science, vol. 49, number 4, December 1982, p. 575-590, has significant affinities to this one. We both, in a sense, try to formally vindicate Leibniz's notion of a relational theory of space, by constructing theories of spatial relations among physical objects which are provably equivalent to the standard absolutist theories. The essential difference between our approaches is that Manders retains Leibniz's explicitly modal framework, whereas I do not. Manders constructs a spacetime theory which explicitly characterizes the totality of possible configurations of physical objects, using a modal language in which the notion of a possible configuration occurs as a primitive. There is no doubt that this is a more accurate realization of Leibniz's own conception of space than the embedding-based approach developed here. However, it also remains open to objections (such as those cited here from Sklar) on account of the special appeal to modal notions. Our approach here, by contrast, aims to avoid the special appeal to modal notions by giving directly a set of laws which are satisfied by a configuration individually, if and only if it is one of the allowable ones. One thus avoids the need for reference to possible but not actual configurations or objects, in the statement of the spacetime laws. We may then take this alternative set of laws as the actual geometric theory, and do away with the hypothetical entity called 'space'. Yet at the same time there is no invocation of modality, except in the ordinary sense in which every physical theory constrains what is possible. So that a relationalist is not forced to utilize a modal language (though Leibniz certainly does.). (shrink)