Authors: Weinert, Friedel
Title: Einstein and the Laws of Physics
Language (ISO): en
Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to highlight the importance of constraints in the theory of relativity and, in particular, what philosophical work they do for Einstein's views on the laws of physics. Einstein presents a view of local ``structure laws'' which he characterizes as the most appropriate form of physical laws. Einstein was committed to a view of science, which presents a synthesis between rational and empirical elements as its hallmark. If scientific constructs are free inventions of the human mind, as Einstein, held, the question arises how such rational constructs, including the symbolic formulation of the laws of physics, can represent physical reality. Representation in turn raises the question of realism. Einstein uses a number of constraints in the theory of relativity to show that by imposing constraints on the rational elements a certain ``fit'' between theory and reality can be achieved. Fit is to be understood as satisfaction of constraint. His emphasis on reference frames in the STR and more general coordinate systems in the GTR, as well as his emphasis on the symmetries of the theory of relativity suggests that Einstein's realism is akin to a certain form of structural realism. His version of structural realism follows from the theory of relativity and is independent of any current philosophical debates about structural realism.
Subject Headings: covariance
Einstein
invariance
laws of nature
laws of physics
realism
relativity
structural realism
symmetries
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2003/24280
http://dx.doi.org/10.17877/DE290R-8891
Issue Date: 2007-05-03T14:25:37Z
Appears in Collections:2007

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