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An Answer in Search of a Question: 'Proofs' of the Tri-Dimensionality of Space

Callender, Craig (2005) An Answer in Search of a Question: 'Proofs' of the Tri-Dimensionality of Space. [Preprint]

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    From Kant’s first published work to recent articles in the physics literature, philosophers and physicists have long sought an answer to the question, why does space have three dimensions. In this paper, I will flesh out Kant’s claim with a brief detour through Gauss’ law. I then describe Büchel’s version of the common argument that stable orbits are possible only if space is three-dimensional. After examining objections by Russell and van Fraassen, I develop three original criticisms of my own. These criticisms are relevant to both historical and contemporary proofs of the dimensionality of space (in particular, a recent one by Burgbacher, F. Lämmerzahl, C., and Macias). In general I argue that modern “proofs” of the dimensionality of space have gone off track.

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    Item Type: Preprint
    Additional Information: Forthcoming in Studies in History & Philosophy of Modern Physics
    Keywords: space; dimension; stability; topology; explanation
    Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
    Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
    General Issues > Explanation
    Depositing User: Craig Callender
    Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2005
    Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 11:13
    Item ID: 2178

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