The most measured understanding of spacetime

Abstract

Newton and Einstein each in his way showed us the following: an epistemologically responsible physicist adopts the most measured understanding possible of spacetime structure. The proper way to infer a doctrine of spacetime is by a kind of measuring inference -- a deduction from phenomena. Thus it was (I argue) by an out-and-out deduction from the phenomena of inertiality (as colligated by the three laws of motion) that Newton delineated the conceptual presuppositions concerning spacetime structure that are needed before we can actually think coherently about these phenomena. And Einstein (I argue) very much recapitulated this argument pattern, twice over in fact, recolligating the phenomena first so as to add something from the laws of electromagnetism, and then so as to add everything about gravitation, into what he understood by inertiality. Notably, to deduce one’s theoretical conclusions from phenomena is both more cautious and more cogent than to "infer to the best explanation". And in the context of the development of a doctrine of spacetime, deductions from phenomena lay before us formal rather than causal understanding. Deductions from phenomena tell us, in this context, not what things or what causes there are, but rather what our concepts should be like. The more measured the inference is, however, the more definitively it tells us this. For these reasons the most measured understanding of spacetime lies on a line between conventionalism and realism, between relationalism and absolutism, and indeed (as I demonstrate) between empiricism and rationalism. Spacetime is understood as neither merely immanent in material goings-on, nor truly transcendent of them either. In order to explain this understanding as adequately as I can and in order to remark its excellences most fully, I consider some respects in which the tertium quid between metaphysical realism and strict empiricism about spacetime is wise in the sense of practical wisdom. The wisest understanding of spacetime illustrates, I argue, an original and fundamental connection that epistemology has with ethics.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,102

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

  • Only published works are available at libraries.

Similar books and articles

Spacetime theory as physical geometry.Robert Disalle - 1995 - Erkenntnis 42 (3):317-337.
Einstein, Newton and the empirical foundations of space time geometry.Robert DiSalle - 1992 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 6 (3):181 – 189.
What price spacetime substantivalism? The hole story.John Earman & John Norton - 1987 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 38 (4):515-525.
The Hole Argument.John D. Norton - 1988 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1988:56 - 64.
The singular nature of spacetime.Vincent Lam - 2007 - Philosophy of Science 74 (5):712-723.
Acknowledgements.W. G. Kudszus - 1997 - The Chesterton Review 23 (1-2):3-3.
Spacetime as a fundamental and inalienable structure of fields.Y. S. - 2001 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 32 (2):205-215.

Analytics

Added to PP
2009-01-28

Downloads
28 (#506,167)

6 months
2 (#785,137)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references