Review of 'Space, Time, and Spacetime' by Lawrence Sklar
Weingard (Robert)
Source: Philosophy of Science, Vol. 44, No. 1 (Mar., 1977), pp. 167-173
Paper - Abstract

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  1. In Space, Time and Spacetime, Lawrence Sklar wants "to convince the reader of the interdependence of science and philosophy." (p. 2) Not only are the results of scientific experimentation and theorizing relevant to traditional (and some non-traditional) philosophical questions about space and time, but also the acceptance and rejection of particular scientific theories depends not only upon the evidence of observation and experimentation but, equally upon the adoption of specific philosophical presuppositions.
  2. To achieve this aim he devotes a chapter to each of four major issues in the philosophy of space and time, which issues are conveniently given by the relevant chapter headings:
    • The Epistemology of Geometry,
    • Absolute Motion and Substantival Spacetime,
    • Causal Order and Temporal Order, and
    • The Direction of Time.
    To keep this very long review from being even longer, I will consider in detail only Sklar's discussion of the second of these issues.
  3. Before I begin, however, let me say that although I disagree with Sklar over many particular issues, as will be evident from my review, I think this is by far the best general book on the philosophy of space and time that I have seen, especially for readers who are not versed in the physics and mathematics of contemporary spacetime theories. Besides containing a fairly extensive introduction to the necessary technical material, designed for the reader with little or no technical background (unlike Grunbaum's book), his considerations of the various philosophical controversies about space and time are not presented from the biased perspective of one of the sides of that controversy, as is, for example, van Frassen's book. Sklar tries to give the best arguments he can for the different sides of the controversies he considers; the arguments are presented with great thoroughness and philosophical skill, and he often leaves up to the reader the final decision as to which side is most convincing.
  4. In the chapter1 entitled "Absolute Motion and Substantival Spacetime," Sklar carefully presents and discusses the traditional controversy between the substantivalist and relational theories of space, and its more modern analogue, the controversy between substantivalist and relational theories of spacetime. It will be useful to discuss these separately.
  5. [… snip …]


Review of "Sklar (Lawrence) - Space, Time and Spacetime"

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: See "Sklar (Lawrence) - Absolute Motion and Substantival Spacetime".

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