Absolute and relational theories of space and motion

(2008)
Authors
Nick Huggett
University of Illinois, Chicago
Abstract
Since antiquity, natural philosophers have struggled to comprehend the nature of three tightly interconnected concepts: space, time, and motion. A proper understanding of motion, in particular, has been seen to be crucial for deciding questions about the natures of space and time, and their interconnections. Since the time of Newton and Leibniz, philosophers’ struggles to comprehend these concepts have often appeared to take the form of a dispute between absolute conceptions of space, time and motion, and relational conceptions. This article guides the reader through some of the history of these philosophical struggles. Rather than taking sides in the (alleged) ongoing debates, or reproducing the standard dialectic recounted in most introductory texts, we have chosen to scrutinize carefully the history of the thinking of the canonical participants in these debates — principally Descartes, Newton, Leibniz, Mach and Einstein. Readers interested in following up either the historical questions or current debates about the natures of space, time and motion will find ample links and references scattered through the discussion and in the Other Internet Resources section below.
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Incongruent Counterparts and the Reality of Space.Graham Nerlich - 2009 - Philosophy Compass 4 (3):598-613.
Mach׳s Principle as Action-at-a-Distance in GR: The Causality Question.Carl Hoefer - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 48 (2):128-136.

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