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(Competing?) Formulations of Newtonian Gravitation: Reflections at the Intersection of Interpretation, Methodology, and Equivalence

Coffey, Kevin (2022) (Competing?) Formulations of Newtonian Gravitation: Reflections at the Intersection of Interpretation, Methodology, and Equivalence. [Preprint]

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Abstract

It is sometimes said there are two ways of formulating Newtonian gravitation theory. On the first, matter gives rise to a gravitational field deflecting bodies from inertial motion within flat spacetime. On the second, matter's accelerative effects are encoded in dynamical spacetime structure exhibiting curvature and the field is 'geometrized away'. Are these two accounts of Newtonian gravitation theoretically equivalent? Conventional wisdom within the philosophy of physics is that they are, and recently several philosophers have made this claim explicit. In this paper I develop an alternative approach to Newtonian gravitation on which the equivalence claim fails, and in the process identify an important but largely overlooked consideration for interpreting physical theories. I then apply this analysis to (a) put limits on the uses of Newtonian gravitation within the methodology of science, and (b) defend the interpretive approach to theoretical equivalence against formal approaches, including the recently popular criterion of categorical equivalence.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Coffey, Kevin
Keywords: Newtonian gravitation; Newton-Cartan theory; geometrized Newtonian gravitation; interpretation; methodology; theoretical equivalence
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Depositing User: Kevin Coffey
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2022 18:53
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2022 18:53
Item ID: 21188
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Date: 2022
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/21188

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