World Enough and Space-Time
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World Enough and Space-Time

Absolute vs. Relational Theories of Space and Time

By John Earman

A Bradford Book





Newton's Principia introduced conceptions of space and time that launched one of the most famous and sustained debates in the history of physics, a controversy that involves fundamental concerns in the foundations of physics, metaphysics, and scientific epistemology. This book introduces and clarifies the historical and philosophical development of the clash between Newton's absolute conception of space and Leibniz's relational one. It separates the issues and provides new perspectives on absolute relational accounts of motion and relational-substantival accounts of the ontology of space time. Earman's sustained treatment and imaginative insights raise to a new level the debate on these important issues at the boundary of philosophy and physics. He surveys the history of the controversy from Newton to Einstein develops the mathematics and physics needed to pose the issues in sharp form and provides a persuasive assessment of the philosophical problems involved. Most importantly, Earman revitalizes the connection of the debate to contemporary science. He shows, for example, how concerns raised by Leibniz form the core of ongoing debate on the foundations of general theory of relativity, moving the discussion into a new and vital arena and introducing arguments that will be discussed for years to come.

A Bradford Book


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262050401 250 pp. | 9 in x 6 in


$32.00 S | £25.00 ISBN: 9780262550215 250 pp. | 9 in x 6 in


  • Earman has produced a comprehensive and very exciting study of many of the most important metaphysical issues in the theory of space and time.

    Lawrence Sklar

    University of Michigan

  • This is a book about two related questions: Is motion absolute or relative? Is space a substance?.. If you are fond of a good discussion and have interest in the fundamental concepts of space, time, and motion, then this is a book for you.

    Classical and Quantum Gravity