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Minkowski Spacetime and Lorentz Invariance: the cart and the horse or two sides of a single coin

Acuña, Pablo (2016) Minkowski Spacetime and Lorentz Invariance: the cart and the horse or two sides of a single coin. Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 55. pp. 1-12. ISSN 1355-2198

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Abstract

Michel Janssen and Harvey Brown have driven a prominent recent debate concerning the direction of an alleged arrow of explanation between Minkowski spacetime and Lorentz invariance of dynamical laws in special relativity. In this article, I critically assess this controversy with the aim of clarifying the explanatory foundations of the theory. First, I show that two assumptions shared by the parties—that the dispute is independent of issues concerning spacetime ontology, and that there is an urgent need for a constructive interpretation of special relativity—are problematic and negatively affect the debate. Second, I argue that the whole discussion relies on a misleading conception of the link between Minkowski spacetime structure and Lorentz invari-ance, a misconception that in turn sheds more shadows than light on our understand-ing of the explanatory nature and power of Einstein’s theory. I state that the arrow connecting Lorentz invariance and Minkowski spacetime is not explanatory and uni-directional, but analytic and bidirectional, and that this analytic arrow grounds the chronogeometric explanations of physical phenomena that special relativity offers.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Acuña, Pablopablo.acuna.l@pucv.cl
Keywords: special relativity, Lorentz invariance, Minkowski spacetime, explanation, theories of principle, construc-tive theories, spacetime ontology.
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Depositing User: Pablo Acuña
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2018 23:02
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2018 23:02
Item ID: 14312
Journal or Publication Title: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Publisher: Elsevier
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Date: 2016
Page Range: pp. 1-12
Volume: 55
ISSN: 1355-2198
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/14312

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