Formal statement of the special principle of relativity
- Citation data:
Synthese, ISSN: 0039-7857, Vol: 192, Issue: 7, Page: 2053-2076
- Publication Year:
- Arts and Humanities; Social Sciences
While there is a longstanding discussion about the interpretation of the extended, general principle of relativity, there seems to be a consensus that the special principle of relativity is absolutely clear and unproblematic. However, a closer look at the literature on relativistic physics reveals a more confusing picture. There is a huge variety of, sometimes metaphoric, formulations of the relativity principle, and there are different, sometimes controversial, views on its actual content. The aim of this paper is to develop a precise language in order to provide a precise formulation of the principle. In view of the fact that the special relativity principle is considered as a universal meta-law, which must be valid for all physical laws in all situations, we try to keep the formalism as general as possible. The benefit of the formal reconstruction is that it makes explicit all the necessary conceptual components of the principle; it brings out many subtle details and the related conceptual problems.