•  19
    The paper is an examination of Michael Friedman’s analysis of the conceptual structure of Einstein’s theory of gravitation, with a particular focus on a number of critical reactions to it. Friedman argues that conceptual frameworks in physics are stratified, and that a satisfactory analysis of a framework requires us to recognize the differences in epistemological character of its components. He distinguishes first-level principles that define a framework of empirical investigation from second-l…Read more
  •  24
    Newtonian mechanics is more than just an empirically successful theory of matter in motion: it is an account of what knowledge of the physical world should look like. But what is this account? What is distinctive about it? To answer these questions, I begin by introducing the laws of motion, the relations among them, and the spatio-temporal framework that is implicit in them. Then I turn to the question of their methodological character. This has been the locus of philosophical discussion from N…Read more
  •  49
    The Principle of Equivalence as a Criterion of Identity
    Synthese 197 (8): 3481-3505. 2020.
    In 1907 Einstein had the insight that bodies in free fall do not “feel” their own weight. This has been formalized in what is called “the principle of equivalence.” The principle motivated a critical analysis of the Newtonian and special-relativistic concepts of inertia, and it was indispensable to Einstein’s development of his theory of gravitation. A great deal has been written about the principle. Nearly all of this work has focused on the content of the principle and whether it has any conte…Read more
  •  17
    This thesis is a contribution to the foundations of space-time theories. It examines the proper understanding of the Newtonian and 1905 inertial frame concepts and the critical analysis of these concepts that was motivated by the equivalence principle. This is the hypothesis that it is impossible to distinguish locally between a homogeneous gravitational field and a uniformly accelerated frame. The three essays that comprise this thesis address, in one way or another, the criteria through which …Read more
  •  175
    On Identifying Background-Structure in Classical Field Theories
    Philosophy of Science 78 (5): 1070-1081. 2011.
    I examine a property of theories called "background-independence" that Einsteinian gravitation is thought to exemplify. This concept has figured in the work of Rovelli (2001, 2004), Smolin (2006), Giulini (2007), and Belot (2011), among others. I propose and evaluate a few candidates for background-independence, and I show that there is something chimaerical about the concept. I argue, however, that there is a proposal that clarifies the feature of Einsteinian gravitation that motivates the conc…Read more
  •  56
    Friedman׳s Thesis
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 52 (Part B): 129-138. 2015.
    This essay examines Friedman's recent approach to the analysis of physical theories. Friedman argues against Quine that the identification of certain principles as ‘constitutive’ is essential to a satisfactory methodological analysis of physics. I explicate Friedman's characterization of a constitutive principle, and I evaluate his account of the constitutive principles that Newtonian and Einsteinian gravitation presuppose for their formulation. I argue that something close to Friedman's thesis …Read more
  •  59
    There Is No Conspiracy of Inertia
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (4): 957-982. 2018.
    I examine two claims that arise in Brown’s account of inertial motion. Brown claims there is something objectionable about the way in which the motions of free particles in Newtonian theory and special relativity are coordinated. Brown also claims that since a geodesic principle can be derived in Einsteinian gravitation, the objectionable feature is explained away. I argue that there is nothing objectionable about inertia and that while the theorems that motivate Brown’s second claim can be said…Read more