Journal Article

Sklar's Maneuver

Bradford Skow

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 58, issue 4, pages 777-786
Published in print December 2007 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online October 2007 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axm037
Sklar's Maneuver

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Sklar ([1974]) claimed that relationalism about ontology—the doctrine that space and time do not exist—is compatible with Newtonian mechanics. To defend this claim he sketched a relationalist interpretation of Newtonian mechanics. In his interpretation, absolute acceleration is a fundamental, intrinsic property of material bodies; that a body undergoes absolute acceleration does not entail that space and time exist. But Sklar left his proposal as just a sketch; his defense of relationalism succeeds only if the sketch can be filled in. I argue that this cannot be done. There can be no (relationalist) dynamical laws of motion based on Sklar's proposal that capture the content of Newton's theory. So relationalists must look elsewhere for a relationalist interpretation of Newtonian mechanics. 1

Introduction

2

The Relationalist Initial Value Problem

3

Sklar's Maneuver

4

Sklar's Initial Value Problem is not Well-posed

5

Concluding Remarks

Journal Article.  4061 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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