Assuming the increasingly popular background independent substantivalist interpretation of general relativity (GR), in this paper I show that the possibility of spacetime point permutations implies that the locational properties of spacetime points, and structural properties of spacetime are categorical. Categorical properties, however, are often deemed implausible by dispositional monists (Bird 2007; Mumford 2004) due to their quiddistic nature, as their primitive identity entails the unacceptable possibility of properties changing their causal role across possible worlds. The question of whether such (...) properties, or instances thereof are plausible is not addressed in this paper, however I demonstrate that despite locational and structural properties being categorical, they are not quiddistic (at least no more so than powers), and thus a metaphysics of science including both dispositional and categorical properties is admissible for the anti-quidditist. I conclude that although dispositional monism is incompatible with background independent substantivalist models of general relativity, this does not wholly undermine the position. (shrink)
In this paper I expound an argument which seems to establish that probabilism and special relativity are incompatible. I examine the argument critically, and consider its implications for interpretative problems of quantum theory, and for theoretical physics as a whole.
Are speical relativity and probabilism compatible? Dieks argues that they are. But the possible universe he specifies, designed to exemplify both probabilism and special relativity, either incorporates a universal "now" (and is thus incompatible with special relativity), or amounts to a many world universe (which I have discussed, and rejected as too ad hoc to be taken seriously), or fails to have any one definite overall Minkowskian-type space-time structure (and thus differs drastically from special relativity as (...) ordinarily understood). Probabilism and special relativity appear to be incompatible after all. What is at issue is not whether "the flow of time" can be reconciled with special relativity, but rather whether explicitly probabilistic versions of quantum theory should be rejected because of incompatibility with special relativity. (shrink)
In this paper I show that Einstein made essential use of aim-oriented empiricism in scientific practice in developing special and general relativity. I conclude by considering to what extent Einstein came explicitly to advocate aim-oriented empiricism in his later years.
High-level study discusses Newtonian principles and 19th-century views on electrodynamics and the aether, covers Einstein’s electrodynamics of moving bodies, Minkowski geometry and other topics. A rich exposition of the elements of the Special and General Theory of Relativity.
This excellent, semi-technical account includes a review of classical physics (origin of space and time measurements, Ptolemaic and Copernican astronomy, laws of motion, inertia, and more) and coverage of Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity, discussing the concept of simultaneity, kinematics, Einstein’s mechanics and dynamics, and more.
Universally recognized as bringing about a revolutionary transformation of the notions of space, time, and motion in physics, Einstein's theory of gravitation, known as "general relativity," was also a defining event for 20th century philosophy of science. During the decisive first ten years of the theory's existence, two main tendencies dominated its philosophical reception. This book is an extended argument that the path actually taken, which became logical empiricist philosophy of science, greatly contributed to the current impasse over realism, (...) whereas new possibilities are opened in revisiting and reviving the spirit of the more sophisticated tendency, a cluster of viewpoints broadly termed transcendental idealism, and furthering its articulation. It also emerges that Einstein, while paying lip service to the emerging philosophy of logical empiricism, ended up siding de facto with the latter tendency. Ryckman's work speaks to several groups, among them philosophers of science and historians of relativity. Equations are displayed as necessary, but Ryckman gives the non-mathematical reader enough background to understand their occurrence in the context of his wider philosophical project. (shrink)
It is hypothesized that de Broglie’s ‘matter waves’ provide a dynamical basis for Minkowski spacetime in an antisubstantivalist or relational account. The relativity of simultaneity is seen as an effect of the de Broglie oscillation together with a basic relativity postulate, while the dispersion relation from finite rest mass gives rise to the differentiation of spatial and temporal axes. Thus spacetime is seen as not fundamental, but rather as emergent from the quantum level. A result by Solov’ev which (...) demonstrates that time is not an applicable concept at the quantum level is adduced in support of this claim. Finally, it is noted that de Broglie waves can be seen as the “bridge of becoming” discussed by ( 2005 ). (shrink)
Touch and sight : the earth and the heavens -- What happens and what is observed -- The velocity of light -- Clocks and foot-rules -- Space-time -- The special theory of relativity -- Intervals in space-time -- Einstein's law of gravitation -- Proofs of Einstein's law of gravitation -- Mass, momentum, energy, and action -- The expanding universe -- Conventions and natural laws -- The abolition of "force" -- What is matter? -- Philosophical consequences.
In a recent paper, Howard Stein makes a number of criticisms of an earlier paper of mine ('Are Probabilism and Special Relativity Incompatible?', Phil. Sci., 1985), which explored the question of whether the idea that the future is genuinely 'open' in a probabilistic universe is compatible with special relativity. I disagree with almost all of Stein's criticisms.
Much of the history of physics at the beginning of the twentieth century has been written with a sharp focus on a few key figures and a handful of notable events. Einstein’s Generation offers a distinctive new approach to the origins of modern physics by exploring both the material culture that stimulated relativity and the reaction of Einstein’s colleagues to his pioneering work. Richard Staley weaves together the diverse strands of experimental and theoretical physics, commercial instrument making, and the (...) sociology of physics around 1900 to present a complete view of the collective efforts of a group whose work helped set the stage for Einstein’s revolutionary theories and the transition from classical to modern physics that followed. Collecting papers, talks, catalogues, conferences, and correspondence, Staley juxtaposes scientists’ views of relativity at the time to modern understandings of its history. Ultimately, Einstein’s Generation tells the story of a group of individuals whose work engendered some of the most significant advances of the twentieth century—and challenges our celebration of Einstein’s era above all others. (shrink)
A recent paper suggested that if Galilean covariance was extended to signals and interactions, the resulting theory would contain such anomalies as would have impelled physicists towards special relativity even without empirical prompts. I analyze this claim. Some so-called anomalies turn out to be errors. Others have classical analogs, which suggests that classical physicists would not have viewed them as anomalous. Still others, finally, remain intact in special relativity, so that they serve as no impetus towards this theory. (...) I conclude that Galilean covariance is insufficient to derive special relativity. (shrink)
That space and time should be integrated into a single entity, spacetime, is the great insight of Einstein's special theory of relativity, and leads us to regard spacetime as a fundamental context in which to make sense of the world around us. But it is not the only one. Causality is equally important and at least as far as the special theory goes, it cannot be subsumed under a fundamentally geometrical form of explanation. In fact, the agent of propagation (...) of causal influence is electromagnetic radiation. In this examination, the authors find support for a rationalist approach to physics, never neglecting experimentation, but rejecting a simple empiricist or positivist view of science. (shrink)
I critically examine some provocative arguments that John Searle presents in his book The Rediscovery of Mind to support the claim that the syntactic states of a classical computational system are "observer relative" or "mind dependent" or otherwise less than fully and objectively real. I begin by explaining how this claim differs from Searle's earlier and more well-known claim that the physical states of a machine, including the syntactic states, are insufficient to determine its semantics. In contrast, his more recent (...) claim concerns the syntax, in particular, whether a machine actually has symbols to underlie its semantics. I then present and respond to a number of arguments that Searle offers to support this claim, including whether machine symbols are observer relative because the assignment of syntax is arbitrary, or linked to universal realizability, or linked to the sub-personal interpretive acts of a homunculus, or linked to a person's consciousness. I conclude that a realist about the computational model need not be troubled by such arguments. Their key premises need further support. (shrink)
In this short but meaty book, Peter Unger questions the objective answers that have been given to central problems in philosophy. As Unger hypothesizes, many of these problems are unanswerable, including the problems of knowledge and scepticism, the problems of free will, and problems of causation and explanation. In each case, he argues, we arrive at one answer only relative to an assumption about the meaning of key terms, terms like "know" and like "cause," even while we arrive at an (...) opposite answer relative to quite different assumptions, but equally arbitrary assumptions, about what the key terms mean. (shrink)
We investigate whether standard counterfactual analyses of causation (CACs) imply that the outcomes of space-like separated measurements on entangled particles are causally related. While it has sometimes been claimed that standard CACs imply such a causal relation, we argue that a careful examination of David Lewis's influential counterfactual semantics casts doubt upon this. We discuss ways in which Lewis's semantics and standard CACs might be extended to the case of space-like correlations.
C. L. Hardin led a recent development in the philosophical literature on color in which research from visual science is used to argue that colors are not properties of physical objects, but rather are mental processes. I defend J. J. C. Smart''s physicalism, which claims that colors are physical properties of objects, against this attack. Assuming that every object has a single veridical (that is, nonillusory) color, it seems that physicalism must give a specification of veridical color in terms natural (...) to physics, independently of our interests. Hardin argues that since physicalism doesn''t give us any such specification of veridical color, this view is false. However, this argument assumes a mistaken account of veridical color. I show physicalism can appeal to an alternative account, according to which veridical color is characterized in terms of favored conditions of perceptual access, independently of any specification of the physical nature of color. (shrink)