Gravitation with a flat background metric
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Although relativistic physics tend to omit nondynamical "absolute objects" such as a flat metric tensor or a preferred time foliation, there exist interesting questions related to such entities, such as worries about the "flow" of time in special relativity, and the apparent disappearance of time altogether in canonical general relativity. This latter problem is related to the lack of a fixed causal structure with repect to which one might posit "equal-time" commutation relations, for example. In view of these issues, we consider whether including a flat background metric, and perhaps a preferred foliation, is physically worthwhile. We show how a derivation of Einstein's equations from flat spacetime can be generalized to include a preferred foliation, the possible significance of which we discuss, though ultimately we suggest why such a foliation might be present in metaphysics and yet absent from physics. We also derive a new "slightly bimetric" class of theories using the flat spacetime approach. However, such derivations are only formally special relativistic, because they give no heed to the flat metric's causal structure, which the curved effective metric might well violate. After reviewing the history of this problem, we introduce new variables to give a kinematic description of the relation between the two null cones. Then we propose a method to enforce special relativistic causality by using the guage freedom to restrict the configuration space suitably. Consequences for exact solutions, such as the Schwarzschild solution and its 'singularity,' are discussed. Advantages and difficulties regarding adding a mass term to the theory are discussed briefly.