The meaning and status of Newton's law of inertia and the nature of gravitational forces

Philosophy of Science 40 (3):329-359 (1973)
Abstract
A four dimensional approach to Newtonian physics is used to distinguish between a number of different structures for Newtonian space-time and a number of different formulations of Newtonian gravitational theory. This in turn makes possible an in-depth study of the meaning and status of Newton's Law of Inertia and a detailed comparison of the Newtonian and Einsteinian versions of the Law of Inertia and the Newtonian and Einsteinian treatments of gravitational forces. Various claims about the status of Newton's Law of Inertia are critically examined including these: the Law of Inertia is not an empirical law but a definition; it is not a law simpliciter but a family of schemata; it is a convention and gravitational forces exist only by convention; it is (or is not) redundant; the concepts it embodies can be dispensed with in favor of operationally defined entities; it is unique for a given theory. More generally, the paper demonstrates the importance of space-time structure for the philosophy of space and time and provides support for a realist interpretation of space-time theories
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1086/288536
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,370
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Theories of Newtonian Gravity and Empirical Indistinguishability.Jonathan Bain - 2004 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 35 (3):345--76.
On the Status of the Geodesic Principle in Newtonian and Relativistic Physics.James Owen Weatherall - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 42 (4):276-281.
Newton–Cartan Theory and Teleparallel Gravity: The Force of a Formulation.Eleanor Knox - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 42 (4):264-275.

View all 16 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles
The Relativity of Inertia and Reality of Nothing.Alexander Afriat & Ermenegildo Caccese - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 41 (1):9-26.
Inertia, Gravitation and Metaphysics.Lawrence Sklar - 1976 - Philosophy of Science 43 (1):1-23.
The Status and Meaning of the Laws of Inertia.Robert Alan Coleman & Herbert Korte - 1982 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1982:257 - 274.
Inertia and Determinism.Jason Zimba - 2008 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (3):417-428.
Nature and Inertia.Thomas J. McLaughlin - 2008 - Review of Metaphysics 62 (2):251-284.
A Limited Conventionalist Critique of Newtonian Space-Time.David Zaret - 1980 - Philosophy of Science 47 (3):474-494.
Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total downloads
64 ( #84,556 of 2,193,782 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #95,978 of 2,193,782 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature