Proving the principle: Taking geodesic dynamics too seriously in Einstein's theory

Citation data:

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, ISSN: 1355-2198, Vol: 43, Issue: 2, Page: 137-154

Publication Year:
2012
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Repository URL:
http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/9158
DOI:
10.1016/j.shpsb.2011.12.002
Author(s):
Michael Tamir
Publisher(s):
Elsevier BV, Elsevier
Tags:
Arts and Humanities, Physics and Astronomy
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article description
In this paper I critically review attempts to formulate and derive the geodesic principle, which claims that free massive bodies follow geodesic paths in general relativity theory. I argue that if the principle is (canonically) interpreted as a law of motion describing the actual evolution of gravitating bodies, then it is impossible to generically apply the law to massive bodies in a way that is coherent with Einstein's field equations. Rejecting the canonical interpretation, I propose an alternative interpretation of the geodesic principle as a type of universality thesis analogous to the universality behavior exhibited in thermal systems during phase transitions.

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