Principle or Constructive Relativity?

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Frisch, Mathias
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conference paper description
I examine Harvey Brown’s account of relativity as dynamic and constructive theory and Michel Janssen recent criticism of it. By contrasting Einstein’s principle-constructive distinction with a related distinction by Lorentz, I argue that Einstein's distinction presents a false dichotomy. Appealing to Lorentz’s distinction, I argue that there is less of a disagreement between Brown and Janssen than appears initially and, hence, that Brown’s view presents less of a departure from orthodoxy than it may seem. Neither the kinematics-dynamics distinction nor Einstein’s principle- and constructive theory distinction ultimately capture their disagreement, which may instead be a disagreement about the role of modality in science and the explanatory force of putatively nomic constraints.