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Counterfactuals in the initial value formulation of general relativity

Jaramillo, José Luis and Lam, Vincent (2018) Counterfactuals in the initial value formulation of general relativity. [Preprint]

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Abstract

How precisely to understand and evaluate counterfactuals can be an intricate issue. The aim of this article is to examine a new set of difficulties for evaluating counterfactuals that arise in the context of the dynamical spacetimes described by the theory of general relativity. The initial value formulation provides us with a methodology to pin down the specific combination of features of the theory at the origin of the difficulties, namely non-linearity and certain non-local aspects (typically captured by ellipticity at the analytical level), in particular when combined with the global and/or quasi-local character of physical quantities in general relativity. Finally, we connect the philosophical question about counterfactuals with concrete applied physical issues in general relativity about extracting meaningful predictions by constructing appropriate initial data sets, leading us to question the very suitability of the Cauchy approach to fully account for the explanatory power of the theory.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Jaramillo, José LuisJose-Luis.Jaramillo@u-bourgogne.fr
Lam, Vincentv.lam@uq.edu.au
Keywords: Counterfactuals, general relativity, initial value formulation, non-linearity, ellipticity, non-local features
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Depositing User: Vincent Lam
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2018 17:10
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2018 17:10
Item ID: 15067
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Date: 2018
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/15067

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