Journal Article

Mass–Energy–Momentum: Only there Because of Spacetime?

Dennis Lehmkuhl

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 62, issue 3, pages 453-488
Published in print September 2011 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online June 2011 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axr003
Mass–Energy–Momentum: Only there Because of Spacetime?

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I describe how relativistic field theory generalizes the paradigm property of material systems, the possession of mass, to the requirement that they have a mass–energy–momentum density tensor Tμν associated with them. I argue that Tμν does not represent an intrinsic property of matter. For it will become evident that the definition of Tμν depends on the metric field gμν in a variety of ways. Accordingly, since gμν represents the geometry of spacetime itself, the properties of mass, stress, energy, and momentum should not be seen as intrinsic properties of matter, but as relational properties that material systems have only in virtue of their relation to spacetime structure.

1Introduction

2The Concept of Matter in Relativistic Field Theory

  2.1A short history of energy–momentum tensors

  2.2Metaphysical matters

3Explicit Dependence of Energy Tensors on the Metric Field

4Metric Dependence in Lagrangian Theories

  4.1The basic ideas of Lagrangian field theory

  4.2Enter the energy tensor

  4.3Different kinds of coupling

5Metric Dependence in General

  5.1Definitional dependence at the level of the matter fields

  5.2Definitional dependence at the level of conditions on the energy tensor

  5.3Abstract definitional dependence

  5.4Interpretational dependence

6What Kind of Property is Mass–Energy–Momentum Density?

  6.1A relational property?

  6.2Relational and essential?

7Conclusion

Journal Article.  16131 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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