re: Physics Query

jeffery lynn mullins (
Mon, 8 Apr 1996 09:41:31 -0400 (EDT)


Didn't Mackie, of fame for writing an atheistic apologetic in reply to
Swinburne, come up with a theory of absolute space denying relativity on
philosophical grounds?

I have also seen some "hole" arguments from Earman that argues that to accept
a substantivalist view of space one must deny determinism (this may not be
exactly your topic, but is related). This is interesting to me since
modern cosmology seems to be saying that the expansion of the universe is
an expansion of the space between the galaxies, not of the galaxies
themselves, and thus could have exceeded the speed of light during an
inflationary epoch. However, I haven't really had time to look into it.

I think that you probably will find more from scientifically informed
philosophers of science than from physicists on the issue unless you look
at physicists in the early part of the twentieth century. Once a
paradigm is solidified the later generation brought up in that paradigm
seems to take it at face value unless they are interested in the history
and philosophy of science.

Jeff Mullins

On Fri, 5 Apr 1996, Garry DeWeese wrote:

> > Jeff Webster wrote:
> >
> > > My question is this: is there serious debate in the physics community about this
> > > issue, or is Einstein's interpretation still preferred because of its conceptual
> > > economy and beauty? As I recall, Einstein's principles of length contraction
> > > and time dilation were entirely kinematic, resulting from two very reasonable
> > > postulates, whereas Lorentz's interpretation requires a dynamical process (thus
> > > far unknown) for the shrinking of measuring rods and the slowing of clocks. Can
> > > anyone suggest literature about this?
> >
> Since Jeff fingers me as initiating this line of inquiry (guilty as
> charged), I'll mention a few of the interesting discussions in the
> philosophical literature. But like Jeff I would be very interested in the
> reactions of physicists working in the area.
> Elie Zahar, "Why did Einstein's Programme Supercede Lorentz's?"
> British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 24 (1973):95-123; 223-62.
> John Winnie, "Special Relativity Without One-way Velocity
> Assumptions," Philosophy of Science 37 (1970):81-99; 223-38.
> Wesley Salmon, "The Philosophical Significance of the One-way
> Speed of Light," Nous 11 (1977):253-92.
> Idem., "The Conventionality of Simultaneity," Philosophy of
> Science 36 (1969): 44-63.
> John Earman, "Who's Afraid of Absolute Space?" Australasian
> Journal of Philosophy 48/3 (1970):297-319.
> Michael Friedman, _Foundations of Space-Time Theories_ (Princeton,
> 1983).
> Also, I can't find the reference now, but an Australian physicist
> named Ives has defended a view of absolute space and time with some
> modifications of Lorentz's work.
> Garry DeWeese