Throughout the history of science there has always been competition among rival theories. An unusual case of interest arises when the theories cannot be tested by any conventional means. Such is the case with different views of space. Isaac Newton, Carl Leibniz, and Emmanuel Kant all proposed different theories about the nature of space. With no true experimental evidence to back up any of the competing theories one is left to choose between ideas based solely on personal ideals and opinions.
The absolutist view of space, built upon the ideas of Isaac Newton, describes space as a container. This container of space holds all of the material things in the universe and had a kind of reality. Inside of the container space interacts with material objects. Newton argues that motion of spatial objects are non-inertial, they are true and absolute. Due to the absolute nature of motion in space, the motions cannot be defined relative to other objects so they need to be defined relative to space.
Motion can be detected in relation to space itself, because an object accelerating or rotating alone betrays the effect of forces, and forces do not exist in relation to other objects.
Carl Leibniz developed a view of space known as the relationist view. According to Leibniz, space can be thought of in terms of relationships between material objects. Space is simply a collection of all spatial relationships, like distances and directions. Here motion and position are real and detectable only in relation to other objects. In addition, motion or position cannot be detected in relation to space itself, since space itself represents no object.
Perhaps the best way to view space is the way that Emmanuel Kant did. Kant's transcendental view of space was an attempt to reconcile the metaphysics of...