A1 Journal article (refereed)
Time as an Empirical Concept in Special Relativity (2019)

Slavov, M. (2019). Time as an Empirical Concept in Special Relativity. Review of Metaphysics, 73(2), 335-353. https://www.pdcnet.org/revmetaph/content/revmetaph_2019_0073_0002_0335_0353

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Slavov, Matias

Journal or series: Review of Metaphysics

ISSN: 0034-6632

eISSN: 2154-1302

Publication year: 2019

Volume: 73

Issue number: 2

Pages range: 335-353

Publisher: Philosophy Education Society

Publication country: United States

Publication language: English

Persistent website address: https://www.pdcnet.org/revmetaph/content/revmetaph_2019_0073_0002_0335_0353

Publication open access: Not open

Publication channel open access:

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/67217


According to a widespread view, Einstein’s definition of time in his special relativity is founded on the positivist verification principle. The present paper challenges this received outlook. It argues that Einstein’s position on the concept of time, to wit, simultaneity, is best understood as a mitigated version of concept empiricism. He contrasts his position to Newton’s absolutist and Kant’s transcendental arguments, and in part sides with Hume’s and Mach’s empiricist arguments. Nevertheless, Einstein worked out a concept empiricism that is considerably more moderate than what we find in the preceding empiricist tradition and early logical positivism. He did not think that the origin of concepts is in observations, but in conventions, and he also maintained a realist ontology of physical events, which he thought is necessary for his theory. Consequently, his philosophy of time in special relativity is not couched in terms of an antimetaphysical verificationism.

Keywords: time; concepts of time; theory of relativity; empiricism; philosophy; metaphysics

Free keywords: Einstein, Albert

Fields of science:

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2019

JUFO rating: 2

Last updated on 2021-20-09 at 15:28