Verificationism and Theories of Space-Time

  • Richard Swinburne
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 157)


Professor Sklar’s paper brings out very clearly the difficulties for theories which attempt to reduce spatio-temporal relations either to a subset of privileged such relations or to something apparently very different. I find myself in very general agreement with almost everything which he writes. But feeling that he raises problems rather than solves them, I would like to attempt something more ambitious. Both the problems which he raises, of the proper limits to verificationism and to property-identification, inevitably hang over all discussion of space and time and are raised by other papers at this conference. Space precludes my considering both problems, and so I shall confine myself to considering the general issue of verificationism. I shall consider how far verificationism is supported by plausible philosophical arguments, and then argue that the kind of verificationism supported by such arguments gives no support to a Robbian programme. I apologize for the fact that I shall take some time over very general philosophical discussion before I apply my results to space-time talk. My excuse is that scientific talk about space and time has been influenced by verificationist presuppositions for the past century, perhaps more than any other scientific talk; and it is important to clear up the extent of their philosophical justification.


Distant Event Reasonable Doubt Causal Theorist Local Simultaneity Prefer Frame 
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© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1983

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  • Richard Swinburne

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