The geometry of conventionality
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1086/675680
There is a venerable position in the philosophy of space and time that holds that the geometry of spacetime is conventional, provided one is willing to postulate a "universal force field." Here we ask a more focused question, inspired by this literature: in the context of our best classical theories of space and time, if one understands "force" in the standard way, can one accommodate different geometries by postulating a new force field? We argue that the answer depends on one's theory. In Newtonian gravitation the answer is yes; in relativity theory, it is no. © 2014 by the Philosophy of Science Association. All rights reserved.