Inertial motion, explanation, and the foundations of classical spacetime theories

In Dennis Lehmkuhl, Gregor Schiemann & Erhard Scholz (eds.), Towards a Theory of Spacetime Theories. Boston, USA: Birkhauser. pp. 13-42 (2017)

Authors
James Weatherall
University of California, Irvine
Abstract
I begin by reviewing some recent work on the status of the geodesic principle in general relativity and the geometrized formulation of Newtonian gravitation. I then turn to the question of whether either of these theories might be said to ``explain'' inertial motion. I argue that there is a sense in which both theories may be understood to explain inertial motion, but that the sense of ``explain'' is rather different from what one might have expected. This sense of explanation is connected with a view of theories---I call it the ``puzzleball view''---on which the foundations of a physical theory are best understood as a network of mutually interdependent principles and assumptions.
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References found in this work BETA

Two Dogmas of Empiricism.Willard V. O. Quine - 1951 - Philosophical Review 60 (1):20–43.
The Scientific Image.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 1980 - Journal of Philosophy 79 (5):274-283.

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Citations of this work BETA

Sophistication About Symmetries.Neil Dewar - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (2):485-521.
Conservation, Inertia, and Spacetime Geometry.James Owen Weatherall - forthcoming - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics.
General Relativity as a Hybrid Theory: The Genesis of Einstein's Work on the Problem of Motion.Dennis Lehmkuhl - forthcoming - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

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