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Did Malament Prove the Non-Conventionality of Simultaneity in the Special Theory of Relativity?
Sahotra Sarkar and John Stachel
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 66, No. 2 (Jun., 1999), pp. 208-220
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/188643
Page Count: 13
You can always find the topics here!Topics: Simultaneity, Light cones, Spacetime, Conventionality, Hypersurfaces, Automorphisms, Special relativity, Physics, Relativity, Philosophy of science
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David Malament's (1977) well-known result, which is often taken to show the uniqueness of the Poincare-Einstein convention for defining simultaneity, involves an unwarranted physical assumption: that any simultaneity relation must remain invariant under temporal reflections. Once that assumption is removed, his other criteria for defining simultaneity are also satisfied by membership in the same backward (forward) null cone of the family of such cones with vertices on an inertial path. What is then unique about the Poincare-Einstein convention is that it is independent of the choice of inertial path in a given inertial frame, confirming a remark in Einstein 1905. Similarly, what is unique about the backward (forward) null cone definition is that it is independent of the state of motion of an observer at a point on the inertial path.
Philosophy of Science © 1999 The University of Chicago Press