General relativity needs no interpretation

Philosophy of Science 76 (1):44-72 (2009)
Abstract
I argue that, contrary to the recent claims of physicists and philosophers of physics, general relativity requires no interpretation in any substantive sense of the term. I canvass the common reasons given in favor of the alleged need for an interpretation, including the difficulty in coming to grips with the physical significance of diffeomorphism invariance and of singular structure, and the problems faced in the search for a theory of quantum gravity. I find that none of them shows any defect in our comprehension of general relativity as a physical theory. I conclude by comparing general relativity with quantum mechanics, a theory that manifestly does stand in need of an interpretation in an important sense. Although many aspects of the conceptual structure of general relativity remain poorly understood, it suffers no incoherence in its formulation as a physical theory that only an ‘interpretation’ could resolve. *Received November 2007; revised February 2009. †To contact the author, please write to: Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, 817 Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh, PA 15260; e‐mail: erik@strangebeautiful.com . When science starts to be interpretive it is more unscientific even than mysticism. (D. H. Lawrence, “Self‐Protection”).
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1086/599277
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 26,188
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Regarding the ‘Hole Argument’.James Owen Weatherall - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axw012.
On the Existence of Spacetime Structure.Erik Curiel - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axw014.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Singularities and Scalar Fields: Matter Theory and General Relativity.James Mattingly - 2001 - Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2001 (3):S395-.
Is General Relativity Generally Relativistic?Roger Jones - 1980 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1980:363 - 381.
Einstein's Unification.Jeroen van Dongen - 2010 - Cambridge University Press.
On the Role of Special Relativity in General Relativity.Harvey R. Brown - 1997 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 11 (1):67 – 81.
Presentism and Relativity. [REVIEW]Yuri Balashov & Michel Janssen - 2003 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 54 (2):327-346.
Why General Relativity Does Need an Interpretation.Gordon Belot - 1996 - Philosophy of Science 63 (3):88.

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-04-22

Total downloads

140 ( #32,663 of 2,153,860 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #398,005 of 2,153,860 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums