HPS Speaker Series - Harvey Brown


Location: 213 Debartolo Hall

Harvey Brown will give a talk on Einstein's rocky road to his discovery of gravity, focusing on the action-reaction principle.

Einstein regarded as one of the triumphs of his 1915 theory of gravity — the general theory of relativity — that it vindicated the action–reaction principle, while Newtonian mechanics as well as his 1905 special theory of relativity supposedly violated it. In this talk I examine why Einstein came to emphasize this position several years after the development of general relativity. Several key considerations are relevant to the story: the connection Einstein originally saw between Mach’s analysis of inertia and both the equivalence principle and the principle of general covariance, the waning of Mach’s influence owing to de Sitter’s 1917 results, and Einstein’s detailed correspondence with Moritz Schlick in 1920. The talk is largely based on the paper: H.R.B. and Dennis Lehmkuhl, ‘Einstein, the reality of space, and the action-reaction principle’, in Einstein, Tagore and the Nature of Reality, Partha Ghose (ed.), Routledge, London and New York, 2016; pp. 9-36. arXiv:1306.4902


Harvey Brown is an Emeritus Professor of the Philosophy of Physics at the University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford. He is currently a Residential Fellow at the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study. For more on Professor Brown click here