Regularity Relationalism and the Constructivist Project

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Stevens, Syman
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preprint description
It has recently been argued by Stevens (2015) that Harvey Brown and Oliver Pooley’s ‘dynamical approach’ to special relativity should be understood as what might be called an ontologically and ideologically relationalist approach to Minkowski geometry, according to which Minkowski geometrical structure supervenes upon the symmetries of the best-systems dynamical laws for a material world with primitive topological or differentiable structure. Fleshing out the details of some such primitive structure, and a conception of laws according to which Minkowski geometry could so supervene, has been referred to by some as the ‘constructivist project’. Here, it is explained that Nick Huggett’s work on ‘regularity relationalism’ provides a framework for such an approach, and a relativistic version of Huggett’s regularity relationalism is outlined for that purpose. Finally, by way of examples, it is shown that this approach fails in the simplest cases. Still, reasons are given for which this should not necessarily discourage an advocate of this interpretation of the dynamical approach.