Kaila's interpretation of Einstein-Minkowski invariance theory

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This essay explores Kaila's interpretation of the special theory of relativity. Although the relevance of his work to logical empiricism is well-known, not much has been written on what Kaila calls the ‘Einstein-Minkowski invariance theory’. Kaila's interpretation focuses on two salient features. First, he emphasizes the importance of the invariance of the spacetime interval. The general point about spacetime invariance has been known at least since Minkowski, yet Kaila applies his overall tripartite theory of invariances to space, time and spacetime in an original way. Second, Kaila provides a non-conventionalist argument for the isotropic speed of electromagnetic signals. The standard Einstein synchrony is not a mere convention but a part of a larger empirical theory. According to Kaila's holistic principle of testability, which stands in contrast to the theses of translatability and verification, different items in the theory cannot be sharply divided into conventional and empirical. Kaila's invariantism/non-conventionalism about relativity reflects an interesting case in the gradual transition from positivism to realism within the philosophy of science.
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Archival date: 2022-03-25
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