Length matters: The einstein–swann correspondence and the constructive approach to the special theory of relativity

Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 39 (3):532-556 (2007)
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Abstract

I discuss a rarely mentioned correspondence between Einstein and Swann on the constructive approach to the special theory of relativity, in which Einstein points out that the attempts to construct a dynamical explanation of relativistic kinematical effects require postulating a fundamental length scale in the level of the dynamics. I use this correspondence to shed light on several issues under dispute in current philosophy of spacetime that were highlighted recently in Harvey Brown’s monograph Physical Relativity, namely, Einstein’s view on the distinction between principle and constructive theories, and the consequences of pursuing the constructive approach in the context of spacetime theories. r 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Amit Hagar
Indiana University, Bloomington

Citations of this work

Drawing the line between kinematics and dynamics in special relativity.Michel Janssen - 2009 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 40 (1):26-52.
Drawing the line between kinematics and dynamics in special relativity.Michel Janssen - 2009 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 40 (1):26-52.
‘But one must not legalize the mentioned sin’: Phenomenological vs. dynamical treatments of rods and clocks in Einstein׳s thought.Marco Giovanelli - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 48 (1):20-44.
The Primacy of Geometry.Meir Hemmo & Amit Hagar - 2013 - Studies in the History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (3):357-364.

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References found in this work

Quantum Gravity.Carlo Rovelli - 2007 - Cambridge University Press.
The Shaky Game: Einstein, Realism, and the Quantum Theory.Arthur Fine - 1986 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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