A faradayan principle for selecting classical field theories

International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (1):35 – 55 (2007)
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Faraday's field concept presupposes that field stresses should share the axial symmetry of the lines of force. In the present article, the field dynamics is similarly required to depend only on field properties that can be tested through the motion of test-particles. Precise expressions of this 'Faradayan' principle in field-theoretical language are shown to severely restrict the form of classical field theories. In particular, static forces must obey the inverse square law in a linear approximation. Within a Minkowskian and Lagrangian framework, the Faradayan principle automatically leads to Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism and to Einstein's theory of gravitation, without appeal to the equivalence principle. A comparison is drawn between this, Feynman's, and Einstein's way to arrive at general relativity.



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