Journal Article

Why Constructive Relativity Fails

John D. Norton

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 59, issue 4, pages 821-834
Published in print December 2008 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online December 2008 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axn046
Why Constructive Relativity Fails

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Constructivists, such as Harvey Brown, urge that the geometries of Newtonian and special relativistic spacetimes result from the properties of matter. Whatever this may mean, it commits constructivists to the claim that these spacetime geometries can be inferred from the properties of matter without recourse to spatiotemporal presumptions or with few of them. I argue that the construction project only succeeds if constructivists antecedently presume the essential commitments of a realist conception of spacetime. These commitments can be avoided only by adopting an extreme form of operationalism.

Introduction

The Construction Project

Clocks

The Spacetime Presumed

Lorentz Covariance Is a Property of a Matter Theory and Spacetime

Spatial Distances and Times Elapsed Are Properties of Spacetime

Conclusion

Journal Article.  6143 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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