Gravitational Energy in Newtonian Gravity: A Response to Dewar and Weatherall

Foundations of Physics 49 (10):1086-1110 (2019)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The paper investigates the status of gravitational energy in Newtonian Gravity, developing upon recent work by Dewar and Weatherall. The latter suggest that gravitational energy is a gauge quantity. This is potentially misleading: its gauge status crucially depends on the spacetime setting one adopts. In line with Møller-Nielsen’s plea for a motivational approach to symmetries, we supplement Dewar and Weatherall’s work by discussing gravitational energy–stress in Newtonian spacetime, Galilean spacetime, Maxwell-Huygens spacetime, and Newton–Cartan Theory. Although we ultimately concur with Dewar and Weatherall that the notion of gravitational energy is problematic in NCT, our analysis goes beyond their work. The absence of an explicit definition of gravitational energy–stress in NCT somewhat detracts from the force of Dewar and Weatherall’s argument. We fill this gap by examining the supposed gauge status of prima facie plausible candidates—NCT analogues of gravitational energy–stress pseudotensors, the Komar mass, and the Bel-Robinson tensor. Our paper further strengthens Dewar and Weatherall’s results. In addition, it sheds more light upon the subtle link between sufficiently rich inertial structure and the definability of gravitational energy in NG.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,164

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Newtonian Spacetime Structure in Light of the Equivalence Principle.Eleanor Knox - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (4):863-880.
The Mass of the Gravitational Field.Charles T. Sebens - 2022 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 73 (1):211-248.
Energy Conservation in GTR.Carl Hoefer - 2000 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 31 (2):187-199.
On geometric objects, the non-existence of a gravitational stress-energy tensor, and the uniqueness of the Einstein field equation.Erik Curiel - 2009 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 66:90-102.
Functional Gravitational Energy.James Read - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 71 (1):205-232.
Localization of gravitational energy.Nathan Rosen - 1985 - Foundations of Physics 15 (10):997-1008.
Vacuum Energy as the Origin of the Gravitational Constant.Durmuş A. Demir - 2009 - Foundations of Physics 39 (12):1407-1425.
Quantum Non-Gravity and Stellar Collapse.C. Barceló, L. J. Garay & G. Jannes - 2011 - Foundations of Physics 41 (9):1532-1541.
Relativistic theory of gravitation.A. A. Logunov & M. A. Mestvirishvili - 1986 - Foundations of Physics 16 (1):1-26.
The Nonlinear Essence of Gravitational Waves.R. Aldrovandi, J. G. Pereira & K. H. Vu - 2007 - Foundations of Physics 37 (10):1503-1517.


Added to PP

27 (#552,153)

6 months
7 (#328,545)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

James Read
Oxford University

Citations of this work

Energy in Newtonian Gravity.Tobias Eklund & Ingemar Bengtsson - 2022 - Foundations of Physics 53 (1):1–14.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Philosophy of Physics: Space and Time.Tim Maudlin - 2012 - Princeton University Press.
Physical relativity from a functionalist perspective.Eleanor Knox - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 67:118-124.

View all 45 references / Add more references