Chapter 4 Philosophy in Einstein’s Science

In: Idealist Alternatives to Materialist Philosophies of Science
Author: John D. Norton

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Abstract

In Chapter 4, “Philosophy in Einstein’s Science,” John D. Norton shows how Einstein, who read, wrote, and appreciated philosophy but was not a dogmatic philosopher, nevertheless used philosophy pragmatically to 1) legitimate an extraordinary new physical proposal concerning time in relativity, 2) find what he called an “epistemological defect” in earlier theories which, in turn, motivated him to seek a general theory of relativity, 3) ground his theorizing in principles that distinguish the real from the unreal, 4) adopt a form of mathematical Platonism as the way to find new theories, such as the unified field theory, and 5) portray himself, correctly and unapologetically, as an “unscrupulous opportunist” to the systematic epistemologist by combining realism, idealism, and positivism in order to advance his theorizing.