World Enough and Spacetime

MIT press (1989)
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Abstract

Newton's Principia introduced conceptions of space and time that launched one of themost famous and sustained debates in the history of physics, a controversy that involves fundamentalconcerns in the foundations of physics, metaphysics, and scientific epistemology.This bookintroduces and clarifies the historical and philosophical development of the clash between Newton'sabsolute conception of space and Leibniz's relational one. It separates the issues and provides newperspectives on absolute relational accounts of motion and relational-substantival accounts of theontology of space time.Earman's sustained treatment and imaginative insights raise to a new levelthe debate on these important issues at the boundary of philosophy and physics. He surveys thehistory of the controversy from Newton to Einstein develops the mathematics and physics needed topose the issues in sharp form and provides a persuasive assessment of the philosophical problemsinvolved.Most importantly, Earman revitalizes the connection of the debate to contemporary science.He shows, for example, how concerns raised by Leibniz form the core of ongoing debate on thefoundations of general theory of relativity, moving the discussion into a new and vital arena andintroducing arguments that will be discussed for years to come.John Earman is Professor of Historyand Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. A Bradford Book.

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John Earman
University of Pittsburgh

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