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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
Callender, Craig
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 15:13
Item ID: 2178

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