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Journal Article

The conventionality of simultaneity in Einstein's practical chrono-geometry

Mario Bacelar Valente
Theoria: An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science
Vol. 32, No. 2 (May 2017), pp. 177-190
Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/44243024
Page Count: 14
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Abstract

While Einstein considered that sub specie aeterni the correct philosophical position regarding geometry was that of the conventionality of geometry, he felt that provisionally it was necessary to adopt a non-conventional stance that he called practical geometry. Here we will make the case that even when adopting Einstein's views we must conclude that practical geometry is conventional after all. Einstein missed the fact that the conventionality of simultaneity leads to a conventional element in the chrono-geometry, since it corresponds to the possibility of different space-time metrics (which, when changing, accordingly, the "physical part" of the theory, are observationally equivalent). Pese a que Einstein consideraba que sub specie aeterni el convencionalismo era la posición filosófica correcta respecto a la geometría, él pensaba que provisionalmente era necesario adoptar una posición no convencionalista a la que llamó geometría práctica. Aquí, defendemos la posición de que aunque se adopten las ideas de Einstein tenemos que concluir que la geometría práctica es convencional. Einstein no tuvo en cuenta el hecho de que la convencionalidad de la simultaneidad lleva a un elemento convencional en la chrono-geometría, pues corresponde a la posibilidad de distintas métricas del espacio-tiempo (que son equivalentes a nivel observacional, cuando se cambia adecuadamente la "parte física" de la teoría).

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