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Profile: Oliver Pooley (Oxford University)
  1. Oliver Pooley, Relationism Rehabilitated? II: Relativity.
    In a companion paper (Pooley & Brown 2001) it is argued that Julian Barbour's Machian approach to dynamics provides a genuinely relational interpretation of Newtonian dynamics and that it is more explanatory than the conventional, substantival interpretation. In this paper the extension of the approach to relativistic physics is considered. General relativity, it turns out, can be reinterpreted as a perfectly Machian theory. However, there are difficulties with viewing the Machian interpretation as more fundamental than the conventional, spacetime interpretation. Moreover, (...)
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  2. Oliver Pooley (2013). Relativity, the Open Future, and the Passage of Time. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 113 (3pt3):321-363.
    Is the objective passage of time compatible with relativistic physics? There are two easy routes to an affirmative answer: (1) provide a deflationary analysis of passage compatible with the block universe, or (2) argue that a privileged global present is compatible with relativity. (1) does not take passage seriously. (2) does not take relativity seriously. This paper is concerned with the viability of views that seek to take both passage and relativity seriously. The investigation proceeds by considering how traditional A-theoretic (...)
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  3. Oliver Pooley (2013). Substantivalist and Relationalist Approaches to Spacetime. In Robert Batterman (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Physics. Oxford University Press.
    Substantivalists believe that spacetime and its parts are fundamental constituents of reality. Relationalists deny this, claiming that spacetime enjoys only a derivative existence. I begin by describing how the Galilean symmetries of Newtonian physics tell against both Newton's brand of substantivalism and the most obvious relationalist alternative. I then review the (now) obvious substantivalist response to the problem, which is to ditch substantival space for substantival spacetime. The resulting position has many affinities with what are arguably the most natural interpretations (...)
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  4. Oliver Pooley (2010). Substantive General Covariance: Another Decade of Dispute. In Mauricio Suárez, Mauro Dorato & Miklós Rédei (eds.), EPSA Philosophical Issues in the Sciences: Launch of the European Philosophy of Science Association. Springer. 197--209.
    John Earman's recent proposal that a substantive version of general covariance consists in the requirement that diffeomorphism invariance be a gauge symmetry is critically assessed. I argue that such a principle does not serve to differentiate general relativity from pre-relativistic theories. A model-theoretic characterization of two formulations of specially-relativistic theories is suggested. Diffeomorphisms are symmetries of only one such style of formulation and, I argue, Earman's proposal does not provide a reason to deny diffeomorphisms the status of gauge transformations relative (...)
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  5. Harvey R. Brown & Oliver Pooley (2006). Minkowski Space-Time: A Glorious Non-Entity. In Dennis Dieks (ed.), The Ontology of Spacetime. Elsevier. 67--89.
    It is argued that Minkowski space-time cannot serve as the deep structure within a ``constructive'' version of the special theory of relativity, contrary to widespread opinion in the philosophical community.
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  6. Ian Gibson & Oliver Pooley (2006). Relativistic Persistence. Philosophical Perspectives 20 (1):157–198.
    We have two aims in this paper. The first is to provide the reader with a critical guide to recent work on relativity and persistence by Balashov, Gilmore and others. Much of this work investigates whether endurantism can be sustained in the context of relativity. Several arguments have been advanced that aim to show that it cannot. We find these unpersuasive, and will add our own criticisms to those we review. Our second aim, which complements the first, is to demarcate (...)
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  7. Oliver Pooley (2006). A Hole Revolution, or Are We Back Where We Started? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 37 (2):372-380.
    Doubts are raised concerning Rickles' claim that ``an exact analog of the hole argument can be constructed in the loop representation of quantum gravity'' (Rickles, `A new spin on the hole argument', Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 36 (2005) 415–434).
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  8. Oliver Pooley (2006). Points, Particles and Structural Realism. In Dean Rickles, Steven French & Juha Saatsi (eds.), The Structural Foundations of Quantum Gravity. Oxford University Press. 83--120.
    In his paper ``What is Structural Realism?'' James Ladyman drew a distinction between epistemological structural realism and metaphysical (or ontic) structural realism. He also drew a suggestive analogy between the perennial debate between substantivalist and relationalist interpretations of spacetime on the one hand, and the debate about whether quantum mechanics treats identical particles as individuals or as `non-individuals' on the other. In both cases, Ladyman's suggestion is that an ontic structural realist interpretation of the physics might be just what is (...)
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  9. Oliver Pooley (2004). Comments on Sklar's ``Barbour's Relationist Metric of Time''. Chronos 6:77-86.
    Julian Barbour's approach to dynamics is reviewed. With a particular focus on questions of explanation and confirmation, the approach is contrasted with standard formulations of dynamics. This paper expands upon my commentary on Lawrence Sklar's paper at the Philosophy of Time Society meeting at the APA's Central Division meeting in Chicago, April 2004. Although a commentary, the current paper is comprehensible without reference to Sklar's paper.
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  10. Oliver Pooley (2003). Handedness, Parity Violation, and the Reality of Space. In Katherine Brading & Elena Castellani (eds.), Symmetries in Physics: Philosophical Reflections. Cambridge University Press. 250--280.
    In the first part of this paper a relational account of incongruent counterparts is defended against an argument due to Kant. I then consider a more recent attack on such an account, due to John Earman, which alleges that the relationalist cannot account for the lawlike left--right asymmetry manifested in parity-violating phenomena. I review Hoefer's, Huggett's and Saunders' responses to Earman's argument and argue that, while a relationalist account of parity-violating laws is possible, it comes at the cost of non-locality.
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  11. Oliver Pooley & Harvey R. Brown (2002). Relationalism Rehabilitated? I: Classical Mechanics. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 53 (2):183--204.
    The implications for the substantivalist–relationalist controversy of Barbour and Bertotti's successful implementation of a Machian approach to dynamics are investigated. It is argued that in the context of Newtonian mechanics, the Machian framework provides a genuinely relational interpretation of dynamics and that it is more explanatory than the conventional, substantival interpretation. In a companion paper (Pooley [2002a]), the viability of the Machian framework as an interpretation of relativistic physics is explored. 1 Introduction 2 Newton versus Leibniz 3 Absolute space versus (...)
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  12. Harvey R. Brown & Oliver Pooley (2001). The Origins of the Spacetime Metric: Bell's Lorentzian Pedagogy and its Significance in General Relativity. In Craig Callender & Nick Huggett (eds.), Physics Meets Philosophy at the Plank Scale. Cambridge University Press. 256--72.
    The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the `Lorentzian Pedagogy' defended by J.S. Bell in his essay ``How to teach special relativity'', and to explore its consistency with Einstein's thinking from 1905 to 1952. Some remarks are also made in this context on Weyl's philosophy of relativity and his 1918 gauge theory. Finally, it is argued that the Lorentzian pedagogy---which stresses the important connection between kinematics and dynamics---clarifies the role of rods and clocks in general relativity.
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  13. Harvey R. Brown & Oliver Pooley (1999). The Problem of Induction From the Perspective of Physics. Manuscrito 22 (2):29.
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