Universally recognized as bringing about a revolutionary transformation of the notions of space, time, and motion in physics, Einstein's theory of gravitation, known as "general relativity," was also a defining event for 20th century philosophy of science. During the decisive first ten years of the theory's existence, two main tendencies dominated its philosophical reception. This book is an extended argument that the path actually taken, which became logical empiricist philosophy of science, greatly contributed to the current impasse over realism, (...) whereas new possibilities are opened in revisiting and reviving the spirit of the more sophisticated tendency, a cluster of viewpoints broadly termed transcendental idealism, and furthering its articulation. It also emerges that Einstein, while paying lip service to the emerging philosophy of logical empiricism, ended up siding de facto with the latter tendency. Ryckman's work speaks to several groups, among them philosophers of science and historians of relativity. Equations are displayed as necessary, but Ryckman gives the non-mathematical reader enough background to understand their occurrence in the context of his wider philosophical project. (shrink)
I argue that the best interpretation of the general theory of relativity (GTR) has need of a causal entity (i.e., the gravitational field), and causal structure that is not reducible to light cone structure. I suggest that this causal interpretation of GTR helps defeat a key premise in one of the most popular arguments for causal reductionism, viz., the argument from physics.
With scale relativity theory, Laurent Nottale has provided a powerful conceptual and mathematical framework with numerous validated predictions that has fundamental implications and applications for all sciences. We discuss how this extended framework reviewed in Nottale (Found Sci 152 (3):101–152, 2010a ) may help facilitating integration across multiple size and time frames in systems biology, and the development of a scale relative biology with increased explanatory power.
With the interaction interpretation, the Lorentz transformation of a system arises with selection from a superposition of its states in an observation-interaction. Integration of momentum states of a mass over all possible velocities gives the rest-mass energy. Static electrical and magnetic fields are not found to form such a superposition and are to be taken as irreducible elements. The external superposition consists of those states that are reached only by change of state of motion, whereas the internal superposition contains all (...) the states available to an observer in a single inertial coordinate system. The conjecture is advanced that states of superposition may only be those related by space-time transformations (Lorentz transformations plus space inversion and charge conjugation). The continuum of external and internal superpositions is examined for various masses, and an argument for the unity of the super-positions is presented. (shrink)
This paper presents a qualitative comparison of opposing views of elementary matter—the Copenhagen approach in quantum mechanics and the theory of general relativity. It discusses in detail some of their main conceptual differences, when each theory is fully exploited as a theory of matter, and it indicates why each of these theories, at its presently accepted state, is incomplete without the other. But it is then argued on logical grounds that they cannot be fused, thus indicating the need for (...) a third revolution in contemporary physics. Toward this goal, the approach discussed is one of further generalizing the theory of general relativity in a way that incorporates the inertial manifestations of matter in covariant fashion, with quantum mechanics serving as a low-energy, linear approximation. Such a theoretical extension of general relativity will be discussed, with applications in elementary particle physics, such as the appearance of mass spectra in the microdomain, as an asymptotic feature of matter, mass doublets (electron-muon and proton-heavy proton), the explanation of pair annihilation and creation from a deterministic field theory, charge quantization, and features of pions. (shrink)
The two books discussed here make important contributions to our understanding of the role of spacetime concepts in physical theories and how that understanding has changed during the evolution of physics. Both emphasize what can be called a ‘dynamical’ account, according to which geometric structures should be understood in terms of their roles in the laws governing matter and force. I explore how the books contribute to such a project; while generally sympathetic, I offer criticisms of some historical claims concerning (...) Newton, and argue that the dynamical account does not undercut ontological issues as the books claim. *Received January 2009; revised March 2009. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, 1423 University Hall MC 267, University of Illinois at Chicago, 601 S. Morgan Street, Chicago, IL 60607; e‐mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (shrink)
This paper aims to discuss two realist conceptions about causation in the light of the general theory of relativity. I first consider the conserved quantity of causation, which explicitly relies on the energy conservation principle. Such principle is however problematic within GTR, mainly because of the dynamical nature of the spacetime structure itself. I then turn to the causal theory of properties, according to which properties are such that insofar as they are certain qualities, they are powers to produce (...) certain effects. In order to be compatible with GTR, such theory has to assume non-trivial global conditions on the spacetime structure; such assumptions seem to deprive the „singularist‟ non-Humean feature of this theory of causation. The question of the possible causal nature of spacetime properties is addressed in the conclusion. (shrink)
The reaction of Italian physicists to the innovations of the ‘new physics’ has been studied by analysing their scientific production and their textbooks. Their stand appears to have been the result of several components: absence or weakness of lines of research in the last three decades of the nineteenth century ; firm attachment to the conceptual and philosophical foundations of classical mechanics; and hostility to the quantization of energy. The consequence has been a widening of the gap between the research (...) done in Italy and the main lines of development of the discipline. (shrink)
Metaphysics, having long since recovered the logical positivist/empiricist objections that were supposed to signal its death, is once again coming under sustained criticism, and from a similar direction. Once it was realised that speculative systematic metaphysics needn’t be abandoned in light of empiricist scruples, metaphysics flourished. But it’s become increasingly clear that, even if the logical empiricists didn’t exactly get their objections right, there is something worrying about the evidential basis for contemporary metaphysics. Not that metaphysicians are unaware of this. (...) There is lots of recent activity in metametaphysics, and much of this research is more or less connected to worries about whether we can have evidence in favour of a metaphysical hypothesis. Roughly: there are alternative views according to which metaphysical disputes variously.. (shrink)