On the Status of the Geodesic Principle in Newtonian and Relativistic Physics

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Weatherall, James Owen
preprint description
A theorem due to Bob Geroch and Pong Soo Jang ["Motion of a Body in General Relativity." Journal of Mathematical Physics 16(1), (1975)] provides a sense in which the geodesic principle has the status of a theorem in General Relativity (GR). I have recently shown that a similar theorem holds in the context of geometrized Newtonian gravitation (Newton-Cartan theory) [Weatherall, J. O. "The Motion of a Body in Newtonian Theories." Journal of Mathematical Physics 52(3), (2011)]. Here I compare the interpretations of these two theorems. I argue that despite some apparent differences between the theorems, the status of the geodesic principle in geometrized Newtonian gravitation is, mutatis mutandis, strikingly similar to the relativistic case.