The Department of Logic & Philosophy of Science Job Talk series presents

"Can Newtonian Gravitation Explain Inertial Motion?"
with Jim Weatherall, University of California, Irvine

Friday, February 10, 2012
3:00 p.m.
Social Science Tower, Room 777

There is an influential view in physics and philosophy of physics, originating with Einstein and Eddington, that holds that general relativity is distinctive in the history of physics because it can be used to "explain" inertial, or unforced, motion.  In this talk, Weatherall will describe how a reformulation of Newtonian gravitation may be used to provide insight into claims concerning the allegedly) distinctive explanatory resources of relativity theory.  He will then argue that Newtonian gravitation can be understood to  explain inertial motion in much the same way as general relativity.  However, a careful comparative study of the status of inertial  motion in the two theories reveals that neither explanation is as clean or straightforward as adherents to the view noted above believe.

For further information, please contact Patty Jones, or 949-824-1520.

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