Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science 250 (3) (2007)
The advent of the special theory of relativity in 1905 brought many problems for the physics community. One, it seemed, would not be a great source of trouble. It was the problem of reconciling Newtonian gravitation theory with the new theory of space and time. Indeed it seemed that Newtonian theory could be rendered compatible with special relativity by any number of small modiﬁcations, each of which would be unlikely to lead to any signiﬁcant deviations from the empirically testable conse- 1 quences of Newtonian theory. Einstein’s response to this problem is now legend. He decided almost immediately to abandon the search for a Lorentz covariant gravitation theory, for he had failed to construct such a theory that was compatible with the equality of inertial and gravitational mass. Positing what he later called the principle of equivalence, he decided that gravitation theory held the key to repairing what he perceived as the defect of the special theory of relativity—its relativity principle.
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