PhilSci Archive

Inertial motion, explanation, and the foundations of classical spacetime theories

Weatherall, James Owen (2012) Inertial motion, explanation, and the foundations of classical spacetime theories. [Preprint]

[img]
Preview
PDF - Submitted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives.

Download (465Kb) | Preview

    Abstract

    I begin by reviewing some recent work on the status of the geodesic principle in general relativity and the geometrized formulation of Newtonian gravitation. I then turn to the question of whether either of these theories might be said to ``explain'' inertial motion. I argue that there is a sense in which both theories may be understood to explain inertial motion, but that the sense of ``explain'' is rather different from what one might have expected. This sense of explanation is connected with a view of theories---I call it the ``puzzleball view''---on which the foundations of a physical theory are best understood as a network of mutually interdependent principles and assumptions.


    Export/Citation:EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
    Social Networking:

    Item Type: Preprint
    Additional Information: Invited for inclusion in "Towards a Theory of Spacetime Theories," D. Lehmkuhl ed.
    Keywords: Inertial motion, geodesic principle, general relativity, Newton-Cartan theory, geometrized Newtonian gravitation, explanation, puzzle-ball view
    Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
    General Issues > Explanation
    Specific Sciences > Physics
    Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
    General Issues > Structure of Theories
    Depositing User: James Owen Weatherall
    Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2012 10:25
    Last Modified: 15 Jun 2012 10:25
    Item ID: 9167
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/9167

    Actions (login required)

    View Item

    Document Downloads