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Reconsidering Relativistic Causality

Butterfield, Jeremy (2007) Reconsidering Relativistic Causality. [Preprint]


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I discuss the idea of relativistic causality, i.e. the requirement that causal processes or signals can propagate only within the light-cone. After briefly locating this requirement in the philosophy of causation, my main aim is to draw philosophers' attention to the fact that it is subtle, indeed problematic, in relativistic quantum physics: there are scenarios in which it seems to fail. I consign to an Appendix two such scenarios, which are familiar to philosophers of physics: the pilot-wave approach, and the Newton-Wigner representation. I instead stress two unfamiliar scenarios: the Drummond-Hathrell and Scharnhorst effects. These effects also illustrate a general moral in the philosophy of geometry: that the mathematical structures, especially the metric tensor, that represent geometry get their geometric significance by dint of detailed physical arguments.

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Item Type: Preprint
Butterfield, Jeremy
Additional Information: Forthcoming (after an Appendectomy) in International Studies in the Philosophy of Science
Keywords: relativistic causality, superluminal signalling, quantum electrodynamics, the Drummond-Hathrell effect, the Scharnhorst effect, pilot-wave theory
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Field Theory
Depositing User: Jeremy Butterfield
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2007
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 15:15
Item ID: 3469

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