Foundations of Physics

, Volume 19, Issue 10, pp 1151–1170 | Cite as

The logic of reduction: The case of gravitation

  • Fritz Rohrlich


The reduction from Einstein's to Newton's gravitation theories (and intermediate steps) is used to exemplify reduction in physical theories. Both dimensionless and dimensional reduction are presented, and the advantages and disadvantages of each are pointed out. It is concluded that neither a completely reductionist nor a completely antireductionist view can be maintained. Only the mathematical structure is strictly reducible. The interpretation (the model, the central concepts) of the superseded theory T′ can at best only partially be derived directly from the superseding theory T; it is severely constrained by the mathematical structure, and it can involve qualitatively different central terms that cannot be logically related between T and T′.


Dimensional Reduction Physical Theory Intermediate Step Mathematical Structure Central Concept 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fritz Rohrlich
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysicsSyracuse UniversitySyracuse

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