Conservation, Inertia, and Spacetime Geometry

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Weatherall, James Owen
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As Harvey Brown emphasizes in his book Physical Relativity, inertial motion in general relativity is best understood as a theorem, and not a postulate. Here I discuss the status of the "conservation condition", which states that the energy-momentum tensor associated with non-interacting matter is covariantly divergence-free, in connection with such theorems. I argue that the conservation condition is best understood as a consequence of the differential equations governing the evolution of matter in general relativity and many other theories. I conclude by discussing what it means to posit a certain spacetime geometry and the relationship between that geometry and the dynamical properties of matter.