The Relativistic Phase of the Causal Theory of Time: The Work of Reichenbach

  • Henry Mehlberg
  • Robert S. Cohen
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 19-1)


Reichenbach, who has perhaps contributed the most to the recent development of the causal theory of time, approached his axiomatic research from the point of view of epistemology, that is, the theory of physical knowledge. The Axiomatik der Relativistischen Raum-Zeit-Lehre (1924) [translated as Axiomatization of the Theory of Relativity (1969)], his great attempt at a philosophical interpretation of Relativity, a book which is essential to an understanding of the logical structure of Relativity, is almost entirely dominated by the idea of causal action of which space and time are only expressions of structural features. Thus, in Special Relativity he deduces the spatial order from certain properties of the temporal order, itself based on the fundamental properties of causality, and tries to prove that within the very general systems of coordinates admissible in Einstein’s Theory of Gravitation these fundamental properties are preserved, along with the temporal order which they engender. So, for Reichenbach, the causal theory of time (and space) constitutes the philosophical import of the whole of Relativity.


Causal Relation Temporal Order Causal Theory Causal Action Intuitive Knowledge 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henry Mehlberg
  • Robert S. Cohen
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Philosophy and History of ScienceBoston UniversityUSA

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