On the reduction of general relativity to Newtonian gravitation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Intertheoretic reduction in physics aspires to be both to be explanatory and perfectly general: it endeavors to explain why an older, simpler theory continues to be as successful as it is in terms of a newer, more sophisticated theory, and it aims to relate or otherwise account for as many features of the two theories as possible. Despite often being introduced as straightforward cases of intertheoretic reduction, candidate accounts of the reduction of general relativity to Newtonian gravitation have either been insufficiently general or rigorous, or have not clearly been able to explain the empirical success of Newtonian gravitation. Building on work by Ehlers and others, I propose a different account of the reduction relation that is perfectly general and meets the explanatory demand one would make of it. In doing so, I highlight the role that a topology on the collection of all spacetimes plays in defining the relation, and how the selection of the topology corresponds with broader or narrower classes of observables that one demands be well-approximated in the limit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Volume68
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Thanks to Jim Weatherall and the anonymous referees for detailed comments, and to the audience members in Munich, London, Oxford, Budapest, Cologne, Rotterdam, Belgrade, and Boulder for illuminating discussion, especially Harvey Brown, Jeremy Butterfield, Roman Frigg, Eleanor Knox, Oliver Pooley, Miklós Rédei, David Wallace, and Charlotte Werndl. David Malament has my gratitude for providing invaluable copies of the most difficult-to-find of Ehlers's papers. Part of the research leading to the work on which this essay was based ( Fletcher, 2014 , Ch. 3) was completed with the support of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship .

Funding Information:
Thanks to Jim Weatherall and the anonymous referees for detailed comments, and to the audience members in Munich, London, Oxford, Budapest, Cologne, Rotterdam, Belgrade, and Boulder for illuminating discussion, especially Harvey Brown, Jeremy Butterfield, Roman Frigg, Eleanor Knox, Oliver Pooley, Mikl?s R?dei, David Wallace, and Charlotte Werndl. David Malament has my gratitude for providing invaluable copies of the most difficult-to-find of Ehlers's papers. Part of the research leading to the work on which this essay was based (Fletcher, 2014, Ch. 3) was completed with the support of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'On the reduction of general relativity to Newtonian gravitation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this