Geometry and Motion in General Relativity


A classic problem in general relativity, long studied by both physicists and philosophers of physics, concerns whether the geodesic principle may be derived from other principles of the theory, or must be posited independently. In a recent paper [Geroch & Weatherall, “The Motion of Small Bodies in Space-Time”, Comm. Math. Phys. (forthcoming)], Bob Geroch and I have introduced a new approach to this problem, based on a notion we call “tracking”. In the present paper, I situate the main results of that paper with respect to two other, related approaches, and then make some preliminary remarks on the interpretational significance of the new approach. My main suggestion is that “tracking” provides the resources for eliminating “point particles”—a problematic notion in general relativity—from the geodesic principle altogether.

Weatherall, J. O. (2018). Geometry and Motion in General Relativity. arXiv preprint arXiv:1810.09046.