Postprint version. Published in International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Volume 25, Issue 4, December 1, 2011, pages 351-370.
Copyright © 2011 Taylor & Francis. This is an electronic version of an article published in International Studies in the Philosophy of Science.
The definitive version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02698595.2011.623364.
Recent ‘dynamical’ approaches to relativity by Harvey Brown and his colleagues have used John Bell’s own solution to a problem in relativity which has in the past sometimes been called ‘Bell’s spaceships paradox’, in a central way. This paper examines solutions to this problem in greater detail and from a broader philosophical perspective than Brown et al. offer. It also analyses the well-known analogy between special relativity and classical thermodynamics. This analysis leads to the sceptical conclusion that Bell’s solution yields neither new philosophical insights concerning the foundations of relativity nor differential support for a specific view concerning the existence of space-time.