Skip to main content

It Happened at the Same Time: Salmon and the Conventionality of Distant Simultaneity

  • Chapter
  • 126 Accesses

Part of the The Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science book series (WONS,volume 61)

Abstract

The focus of Wesley Salmon’s contributions to space-time philosophy lies with questions raised by special relativity theory. The pertinent aspects of his work mainly concern the problem of the empirical determination of simultaneity relations which had received prominent attention in the writings of Logical Empiricists. The famous conventionality thesis advanced in this connection says that judging on the exclusive basis of empirical data, no preferred, unique relation of distant simultaneity can be specified; and since all truth claims are supposed to be based on experience, no factual simultaneity relation exists. The most elaborate development of the conventionality thesis is found in Hans Reichenbach whose writings constitute Salmon’s chief source of inspiration. It does not come as a surprise, then, that the main thrust of Salmon’s work on space-time philosophy is represented by attempts to buttress and support this conventionality claim. So I will concentrate my discussion on that aspect also. But since Salmon does a lot of additional important work in the course of pursuing this overarching goal, I begin with a preliminary section on the relativity of simultaneity. In this area Salmon has produced highly significant insights that are less widely received than they should be. So let me contribute to their dissemination.

Keywords

  • Transport Velocity
  • Inertial Observer
  • Clock Reading
  • Simultaneity Relation
  • Reciprocal Dependence

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-94-015-9191-1_7
  • Chapter length: 19 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   119.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-94-015-9191-1
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   159.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   159.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  • Carrier, M., (1994): The Completeness of Scientific Theories. On the Derivation of Empirical Indicators Within a Theoretical Framework: The Case of Physical Geometry, Dordrecht: Kluwer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Clifton, R.K., (1989): “Some Recent Controversy Over the Possibility of Experimentally Determining Isotropy in the Speed of Light”, Philosophy of Science56, 688–696.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Ellis, B., and Bowman, P., (1967): “Conventionality in Distant Simultaneity”, Philosophy of Science34, 116–136.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

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

    Google Scholar 

  • Grünbaum A., (1973): Philosophical Problems of Space and Time, Dordrecht: Reidel, 2nd Ed.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Havas P., (1987): “Simultaneity, Conventionalism, General Covariance, and the Special Theory of Relativity”, General Relativity and Gravitation19, 435–453.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Janis, A.I., (1983): “Simultaneity and Conventionality”, in: R.S. Cohen and L. Laudan (eds.), Physics, Philosophy and Psychoanalysis. Essays in Honor ofAdolf Grünbaum, Dordrecht: Reidel, 101–110.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Malament, D., (1977): “Causal Theories of Time and the Conventionality of Simultaneity”, Nous11, 293–300.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Norton, J., (1992): “Philosophy of Space and Time”, in: M.H. Salmon et al., Introduction to the Philosophy of Science. A Text by Members of the Department of the History and Philosophy of Science of the University of Pittsburgh, Englewood Cliffs N.J.: Prentice Hall, 179–231.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ray, C., (1991): Time, Space and Philosophy, London: Routledge.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Redhead, M. (1993): “The Conventionality of Simultaneity”, in: J. Earman et al. (eds.), Philosophical Problems of the Internal and External Worlds. Essays on the Philosophy ofAdolf Grünbaum, Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press/ Konstanz: Universitätsverlag, 103–128.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reichenbach, H., (1928): The Philosophy of Space and Time, New York: Dover, 1965.

    Google Scholar 

  • Salmon, W.C., (1969): “The Conventionality of Simultaneity”, Philosophy of Science36, 44–63.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Salmon, W.C., (1977): “The Philosophical Significance of the One-Way Speed of Light”, Nous11, 252–292.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Salmon, W.C., (1980): Space, Time, and Motion. A Philosophical Introduction, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Stolakis, G., (1986): “Against Conventionalism in Physics: Absolute Synchronisation in a Single Frame of Reference”, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science37, 229–232.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Winnie, J.A., (1970): “Special Relativity without One-Way Velocity Assumptions”, Philosophy of Science 37, 81–99, 223–238.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 1999 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Carrier, M. (1999). It Happened at the Same Time: Salmon and the Conventionality of Distant Simultaneity. In: Galavotti, M.C., Pagnini, A. (eds) Experience, Reality, and Scientific Explanation. The Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science, vol 61. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-015-9191-1_7

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-015-9191-1_7

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Dordrecht

  • Print ISBN: 978-90-481-5145-5

  • Online ISBN: 978-94-015-9191-1

  • eBook Packages: Springer Book Archive