The claim that distant simultaneity with respect to an inertial observer is conventional arose in the context of a space-and-time rather than a spacetime ontology. Reformulating this problem in terms of a spacetime ontology merely trivializes it. In the context of flat space, flat time, and a linear inertial structure (a purely space-and-time formalism), we prove that the hyperplanes of space for a given inertial observer are determined by a purely spatial criterion that depends for its validity…

Read moreThe claim that distant simultaneity with respect to an inertial observer is conventional arose in the context of a space-and-time rather than a spacetime ontology. Reformulating this problem in terms of a spacetime ontology merely trivializes it. In the context of flat space, flat time, and a linear inertial structure (a purely space-and-time formalism), we prove that the hyperplanes of space for a given inertial observer are determined by a purely spatial criterion that depends for its validity only on the two-way light principle, which is universally regarded as empirically verified. All (empirically determined) “spacetime” entities, such as the conformal structure or light surface equation, are used in a purely mathematical manner that is independent of and hence isneutral with respect to the ontological status that is ascribed to them. In this regard, our criterion is significantly stronger than thespacetime criterion recently advanced by D. Malament, which appeals explicitly to the conformal orthogonality of spacetime vectors and to the invariance of the conformal-orthogonal structure of spacetime under the causal automorphisms of spacetime. Once the hyperplanes of space for a given inertial observer have been determined by our empirical and purely spatial criterion, the following holds: there exists one and only one $\vec \varepsilon $ -synchronization procedure, namely the standard procedure proposed by Einstein, such that the planes of common time are thesame as the nonconventional hyperplanes of space for the inertial observer. It follows that our criterion provides an empirical even if indirect method for determining that the one-way speed of light is the same as the average two-way speed of light. In addition, two inertial observers that are not at rest with respect to each other necessarily havedifferent hyperplanes of space, and consequently their respective spatial views cannot be encompassed in a single three-dimensional space. Hence, our purely spatial criterion provides an empirical motivation for adopting the more comprehensive spacetime ontology