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The Geometry of Conventionality

Weatherall, James Owen and Manchak, John Byron (2013) The Geometry of Conventionality. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Hans Reichenbach famously argued that the geometry of spacetime is conventional in relativity theory, in the sense that one can freely choose the spacetime metric so long as one is willing to postulate a "universal force field". Here we make precise a sense in which the field Reichenbach defines fails to be a "force". We then argue that there is an interesting and perhaps tenable sense in which geometry is conventional in classical spacetimes. We conclude with a no-go result showing that the variety of conventionalism available in classical spacetimes does not extend to relativistic spacetimes.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Weatherall, James Owenweatherj@uci.edu
Manchak, John Byronmanchak@uw.edu
Additional Information: This version correct a serious typo in the previous draft.
Keywords: Reichenbach, conventionality of geometry, general relativity, Newton-Cartan theory, geometrized Newtonian gravitation
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
General Issues > Conventionalism
General Issues > Logical Positivism/Logical Empiricism
General Issues > Philosophers of Science
Specific Sciences > Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Depositing User: James Owen Weatherall
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2013 13:32
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:26
Item ID: 9577
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
General Issues > Conventionalism
General Issues > Logical Positivism/Logical Empiricism
General Issues > Philosophers of Science
Specific Sciences > Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Date: 2013
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/9577

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