In Michael Heidelberger & Gregor Schiemann (eds.), The Significance of the Hypothetical in the Natural Sciences. De Gruyter. pp. 193-219 (2009)

Authors
Scott A. Walter
Université de Nantes
Abstract
According to the conventionalist doctrine of space elaborated by the French philosopher-scientist Henri Poincaré in the 1890s, the geometry of physical space is a matter of definition, not of fact. Poincaré’s Hertz-inspired view of the role of hypothesis in science guided his interpretation of the theory of relativity (1905), which he found to be in violation of the axiom of free mobility of invariable solids. In a quixotic effort to save the Euclidean geometry that relied on this axiom, Poincaré extended the purview of his doctrine of space to cover both space and time. The centerpiece of this new doctrine is what he called the ‘‘principle of physical relativity,’’ which holds the laws of mechanics to be covariant with respect to a certain group of transformations. For Poincaré, the invariance group of classical mechanics defined physical space and time (Galilei spacetime), but he admitted that one could also define physical space and time in virtue of the invariance group of relativistic mechanics (Minkowski spacetime). Either way, physical space and time are the result of a convention.
Keywords conventionalism  space-time  relativity
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book Find it on Amazon.com
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 60,878
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Poincaré’s Classification of Hypotheses and Their Role in Natural Science.María de Paz - 2015 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 29 (4):369-382.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Henri Poincaré et l’espace-temps conventionnel.Scott Walter - 2008 - Cahiers de Philosophie de L’Université de Caen 45:87.
Gravity, Metaphysics or Physics ?Alfonso Leon Guillen Gomez - 2013 - International Journal of Fundamental Physical Sciences 3 (4):68 - 74.
Figures of Light in the Early History of Relativity (1905-1914).Scott A. Walter - 2018 - In David Rowe, Tilman Sauer & Scott A. Walter (eds.), Einstein Studies. New York, USA: Birkhäuser. pp. 3-50.
Experimental and Real Coordinates in Space-Time Transformations.Joseph Levy - 2004 - Foundations of Physics 34 (12):1905-1922.
Poincaré on Clocks in Motion.Scott Walter - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 47:131-141.
Time, Topology and Physical Geometry.Tim Maudlin - 2010 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 84 (1):63-78.
Conformal Symmetry and Quantum Relativity.Marc-Thierry Jaekel & Serge Reynaud - 1998 - Foundations of Physics 28 (3):439-456.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2016-03-09

Total views
30 ( #356,233 of 2,438,960 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #209,051 of 2,438,960 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes