Why Constructive Relativity Fails

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Norton, John D.
conference paper description
Constructivists, such as Harvey Brown, urge that the geometry of Newtonian and special relativistic spacetimes results from the properties of matter. Whatever this may mean, it commits constructivists to the claim that these spacetime geometries can be inferred from the properties of matter without recourse to spatiotemporal presumptions or with few of them. I argue that the construction project only succeeds if constructivists antecedently presume the essential commitments of a realist conception of spacetime. These commitments can be avoided only by adopting an extreme form of operationalism.