Substantive General Covariance: Another Decade of Dispute

In Mauricio Suárez, Mauro Dorato & Miklós Rédei (eds.), EPSA Philosophical Issues in the Sciences: Launch of the European Philosophy of Science Association. Springer. pp. 197--209 (2009)
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Abstract

John Earman's recent proposal that a substantive version of general covariance consists in the requirement that diffeomorphism invariance be a gauge symmetry is critically assessed. I argue that such a principle does not serve to differentiate general relativity from pre-relativistic theories. A model-theoretic characterization of two formulations of specially-relativistic theories is suggested. Diffeomorphisms are symmetries of only one such style of formulation and, I argue, Earman's proposal does not provide a reason to deny diffeomorphisms the status of gauge transformations relative to this formulation. Carlo Rovelli's distinction between "passive" and "active" diffeomorphism invariance is also clarified.

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Oliver Pooley
University of Oxford

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References found in this work

Quantum Gravity.Carlo Rovelli - 2007 - Cambridge University Press.
What price spacetime substantivalism? The hole story.John Earman & John Norton - 1987 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 38 (4):515-525.
Substances and space-time: What Aristotle would have said to Einstein.Tim Maudlin - 1990 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 21 (4):531-561.
The Essence of Space-Time.Tim Maudlin - 1988 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1988:82 - 91.

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