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Algebraic Fields and the Dynamical Approach to Physical Geometry

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022


Brown and Pooley’s ‘dynamical approach’ to physical theories asserts, in opposition to the orthodox position on physical geometry, that facts about physical geometry are grounded in, or explained by, facts about dynamical fields, not the other way round. John Norton has claimed that the proponent of the dynamical approach is illicitly committed to spatiotemporal presumptions in ‘constructing’ space-time from facts about dynamical symmetries. In this article, I present an abstract, algebraic formulation of field theories and demonstrate that the proponent of the dynamical approach is not committed, in special relativity, to the illicit presumptions to which Norton refers.

Physical Sciences
Philosophy of Science , Volume 86 , Issue 5 , December 2019 , pp. 1273 - 1283
Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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I am very grateful to Adam Caulton, Harvey Brown, Nick Huggett, Oliver Pooley, James Read, and two anonymous referees for helpful spoken and written feedback.


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