Skip to main content

Lorentzian Theories vs. Einsteinian Special Relativity — A Logico-empiricist Reconstruction

  • Conference paper
  • 313 Accesses

Part of the Veröffentlichungen des Instituts Wiener Kreis book series (WIENER KREIS,volume 16)

Abstract

1. It is widely believed that the principal difference between Einstein’s special relativity and its contemporary rival Lorentz-type theories was that while the Lorentz-type theories were also capable of “explaining away” the null result of the Michelson—Morley experiment and other experimental findings by means of the distortions of moving measuring-rods and moving clocks, special relativity revealed more fundamental new facts about the geometry of space-time behind these phenomena. For the sake of brevity, I shall use the term “Lorentz theory” as classification to refer to the similar approaches of Lorentz, FitzGerald, and Poincaré, that save the classical Galilei covariant conceptions of space and time by explaining the experimental findings through the physical distortions of moving objects — of moving measuring equipments included — no matter whether these physical distortions are simply hypothesized in the theory, or prescribed by some “principle” like Lorentz’s principle, or they are constructively derived from the behavior of the molecular forces. From the point of view of my recent concerns what is important is the logical possibility of such an alternative theory. Although, Lorentz’s 1904 paper or Chapter V. of his The theory of electrons (1909) are good historic examples.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-7091-0177-3_9
  • Chapter length: 37 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-7091-0177-3
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. J. S. Bell, Speakable and unspeakable in quantum mechanics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1987.

    Google Scholar 

  2. J. S. Bell, “George Francis FitzGerald”, in: Physics World, 5, 1992, pp. 31–35.

    Google Scholar 

  3. P. Bridgman, The Logic of Modern Physics. New York: MacMillan 1927.

    Google Scholar 

  4. R. Brown and O. Pooley, “The origin of space-time metric: Bell’s ‘Lorentzian pedagogy’ and its significance in general relativity”, in: C. Calleander and N. Huggett (eds.), Physics meets philosophy at the Planck scale. Contemporary theories in quantum gravity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2001.

    Google Scholar 

  5. H. R. Brown, “The origins of length contraction: I. The FitzGerald-Lorentz deformation”, http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/archive/00000218 (2001)

  6. H. R. Brown, “Michelson, FitzGerald and Lorentz: the origins of relativity revisited”, http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/archive/00000987 (2003)

  7. S. G. Brush, “Why was Relativity Accepted?”, in: Physics in Perspective, 1, 1999, pp. 184–214.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  8. A. Einstein, “Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper”, in: Annalen der Physik, 17, 1905, p. 891.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  9. A. Einstein, Relativity: The Special and General Theory. New York: H. Holt and Company 1920.

    Google Scholar 

  10. A. Einstein, Sidelights on relativity. New York: Dover 1983.

    Google Scholar 

  11. P. K. Feyerabend, “Consolation for the Specialist”, in: I. Lakatos and A. Musgrave (eds.), Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1970, pp. 197–230.

    Google Scholar 

  12. M. Friedman, Foundations of Space-Time Theories — Relativistic Physics and Philosophy of Science. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1983.

    Google Scholar 

  13. M. Gömöri and L. E. Szabö, “Is the relativity principle consistent with electrodynamics? Towards a logico-empiricist reconstruction of a physical theory”, arXiv:0912.4388 (2009)

    Google Scholar 

  14. A. Grünbaum, Philosophical Problems of Space and Time. Dordrecht: D. Reidel 1974.

    Google Scholar 

  15. L. Jánossy, Theory of relativity based on physical reality. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó 1971.

    Google Scholar 

  16. M. Janssen, “Reconsidering a Scientific Revolution: The Case of Einstein versus Lorentz”, in: Physics in Perspective, 4, 2002, pp. 421–446.

    Google Scholar 

  17. T. S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1970.

    Google Scholar 

  18. H. A. Lorentz, “Electromagnetic phenomena in a system moving with any velocity less than that of light”, in: Proc. R. Acad. Amsterdam, 6, 1904, p. 809.

    Google Scholar 

  19. H. A. Lorentz, The theory of electrons and its applications to the phenomena of light and radiant heat; a course of lectures delivered in Columbia University, New York, in March and April 1906. New York: Columbia University Press 1909/1916.

    Google Scholar 

  20. J. Reignier, “The birth of special relativity. ‘One more essay on the subject’”, arXiv:physics/0008229 (2000).

    Google Scholar 

  21. L. E. Szabó, “On the meaning of Lorentz covariance”, in: Foundations of Physics Letters, 17, 2004, p. 479.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  22. L. E. Szabó, “Empirical Foundation of Space and Time”, in: M. Suárez et al. (eds.), EPSA Philosophical Issues in the Sciences. Launch of the European Philosophy of Science Association. Berlin: Springer 2009.

    Google Scholar 

  23. E. Zahar, “Why did Einstein’s Programme Supersede Lorentz’s?”, in: British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 24, 1973, pp. 95–123, 223–262.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

Download references

Authors

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2011 Springer-Verlag/Wien

About this paper

Cite this paper

Szabó, L.E. (2011). Lorentzian Theories vs. Einsteinian Special Relativity — A Logico-empiricist Reconstruction. In: Máté, A., Rédei, M., Stadler, F. (eds) Der Wiener Kreis in Ungarn / The Vienna Circle in Hungary. Veröffentlichungen des Instituts Wiener Kreis, vol 16. Springer, Vienna. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-7091-0177-3_9

Download citation