On Absolute Units

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 75 (1):1-30 (2021)
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Abstract

How may we characterize the intrinsic structure of physical quantities such as mass, length, or electric charge? This article shows that group-theoretic methods—specifically, the notion of a free and transitive group action—provide an elegant way of characterizing the structure of scalar quantities, and uses this to give an intrinsic treatment of vector quantities. It also gives a general account of how different scalar or vector quantities may be algebraically combined with one another. Finally, it uses this apparatus to give a simple intrinsic treatment of Newtonian gravitation.

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Neil Dewar
Cambridge University

Citations of this work

The epistemology of spacetime.Neil Dewar, Niels Linnemann & James Read - 2022 - Philosophy Compass 17 (4):e12821.

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References found in this work

Science Without Numbers: A Defence of Nominalism.Hartry H. Field - 1980 - Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press.
The Intrinsic Structure of Quantum Mechanics.Eddy Keming Chen - 2019 - In Essays on the Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics. New Brunswick, NJ: PhD dissertation, Rutgers University. pp. Chapter 1.
Symmetry as an Epistemic Notion.Shamik Dasgupta - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (3):837-878.
The Metaphysics of Quantities.J. E. Wolff - 2020 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Sophistication about Symmetries.Neil Dewar - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (2):485-521.

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