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  1. On Spacetime Functionalism.David John Baker - manuscript
    Eleanor Knox has argued that our concept of spacetime applies to whichever structure plays a certain functional role in the laws (the role of determining local inertial structure). I raise two complications for this approach. First, our spacetime concept seems to have the structure of a cluster concept, which means that Knox's inertial criteria for spacetime cannot succeed with complete generality. Second, the notion of metaphysical fundamentality may feature in the spacetime concept, in which case spacetime functionalism may be uninformative (...)
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  2. [Early First Draft] Must Minkowski Spacetime Be Categorized as Pseudoscience? (Revisiting the Legitimacy of Mansouri-Sexl Test Theory).Shiva Meucci - manuscript
    Here we discuss and hope to solve a problem rooted in the necessity of the study of historical science, the slow deviation of physics education over the past century, and how the loss of crucial contextual tool has debilitated discussion of a very important yet specialized physics sub-topic: the isotropy of the one-way speed of light. Most notably, the information that appears to be most commonly missing is not simply the knowledge of the historical fact that Poincare and Lorentz presented (...)
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  3. The Priority of Relation for Creation: A Primer in the Logic of Three.Timothy M. Rogers - manuscript
    An exploration of the metaphysics of relation as a unifying motif in modern physics. What happens when Ideal observers begin to observe their own observing?
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  4. Relative Locations.Andrew Bacon - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics (1):44-94.
    The fact that physical laws often admit certain kinds of space-time symmetries is often thought to be problematic for substantivalism --- the view that space-time is as real as the objects it contains. The most prominent alternative, relationism, avoids these problems but at the cost of giving abstract objects (rather than space-time points) a pivotal role in the fundamental metaphysics. This incurs related problems concerning the relation of the physical to the mathematical. In this paper I will present a version (...)
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  5. Spacetime Quietism in Quantum Gravity.Sam Baron & Baptiste Le Bihan - 2022 - In Antonio Vassallo (ed.), The Foundations of Spacetime Physics: Philosophical Perspectives. Routledge.
    The existence and fundamentality of spacetime has been questioned in quantum gravity where spacetime is frequently described as emerging from a more fundamental non-spatiotemporal ontology. This is supposed to lead to various philosophical issues such as the problem of empirical coherence. Yet those issues assume beforehand that we actually understand and agree on the nature of spacetime. Reviewing popular conceptions of spacetime, we find that there is substantial disagreement on this matter, and little hope of resolving it. However, we argue (...)
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  6. The Physics and Metaphysics of Pure Shape Dynamics.Antonio Vassallo, Pedro Naranjo & Tim Koslowski - 2022 - In The Foundations of Spacetime Physics: Philosophical Perspectives. Routledge.
    The goal of this essay is twofold. First, it provides a quick look at the foundations of modern relational mechanics by tracing its development from Julian Barbour and Bruno Bertotti's original ideas until present-day's pure shape dynamics. Secondly, it discusses the most appropriate metaphysics for pure shape dynamics, showing that relationalism is more of a nuanced thesis rather than an elusive one. The chapter ends with a brief assessment of the prospects of pure shape dynamics in light of quantum physics.
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  7. A Solution to Some Grounding Problems for Relationism.Brannon McDaniel - 2020 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-17.
    Let wF, wC+, and wC– be three distinct worlds, each of which contains only a single point-sized material particle, and in each of which spacetime is: uniformly flat, constantly positively curved, and constantly negatively curved, respectively. By the relationist’s lights, these worlds seem to be qualitatively identical. Nevertheless, for each world, there are propositions concerning possible arrangements of material points that are true in that world, but false in the other two. I argue that, surprisingly, the relationist can ground these (...)
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  8. A Fractal Universe and the Identity of Indiscernibles.Matteo Casarosa - 2019 - Stance 12 (1):87-95.
    The principle of Identity of Indiscernibles has been challenged with various thought experiments involving symmetric universes. In this paper, I describe a fractal universe and argue that, while it is not a symmetric universe in the classical sense, under the assumption of a relational theory of space it nonetheless contains a set of objects indiscernible by pure properties alone. I then argue that the argument against the principle from this new thought experiment resists better than those from classical symmetric universes (...)
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  9. Reconsidering Kantian Absolute Space in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science From a Huygensian Frame.Edward Slowik - 2017 - Journal of Early Modern Studies 6 (2):119-141.
    This essay explores Kant’s concept of absolute space in the Metaphysical Foundations from the perspective of the development of the relationist interpretation of bodily interactions in the center-of-mass reference frame, a strategy that Huygens had originally pioneered and which Mach also endorsed. In contrast to the interpretations of Kant that stress a non-relationist, Newton-inspired orientation in his critical period work, it will be argued that the content and function of Kant’s utilization of this reference frame strategy places him much closer (...)
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  10. Super-Relationism: Combining Eliminativism About Objects and Relationism About Spacetime.Baptiste Le Bihan - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (8):2151-2172.
    I will introduce and motivate eliminativist super-relationism. This is the conjunction of relationism about spacetime and eliminativism about material objects. According to the view, the universe is a big collection of spatio-temporal relations and natural properties, and no substance (material or spatio-temporal) exists in it. The view is original since eliminativism about material objects, when understood as including not only ordinary objects like tables or chairs but also physical particles, is generally taken to imply substantivalism about spacetime: if properties are (...)
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  11. Leibniz on the Modal Status of Absolute Space and Time.Martin Lin - 2016 - Noûs 50 (3):447-464.
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  12. Huygens on Inertial Structure and Relativity.Marius Stan - 2016 - Philosophy of Science 83 (2):277-298.
    I explain and assess here Huygens’ concept of relative motion. I show that it allows him to ground most of the Law of Inertia, and also to explain rotation. Thereby his concept obviates the need for Newton’s absolute space. Thus his account is a powerful foundation for mechanics, though not without some tension.
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  13. Relationalism About Mechanics Based on a Minimalist Ontology of Matter.Antonio Vassallo, Dirk-André Deckert & Michael Esfeld - 2016 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science:1-20.
    This paper elaborates on relationalism about space and time as motivated by a minimalist ontology of the physical world: there are only matter points that are individuated by the distance relations among them, with these relations changing. We assess two strategies to combine this ontology with physics, using classical mechanics as example: the Humean strategy adopts the standard, non-relationalist physical theories as they stand and interprets their formal apparatus as the means of bookkeeping of the change of the distance relations (...)
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  14. Leibnizian Relationalism for General Relativistic Physics.Antonio Vassallo & Michael Esfeld - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics:101-107.
    An ontology of Leibnizian relationalism, consisting in distance relations among sparse matter points and their change only, is well recognized as a serious option in the context of classical mechanics. In this paper, we investigate how this ontology fares when it comes to general relativistic physics. Using a Humean strategy, we regard the gravitational field as a means to represent the overall change in the distance relations among point particles in a way that achieves the best combination of being simple (...)
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  15. Relational Time.Matteo Morganti - 2015 - In Tomasz Bigaj & Christian Wuthrich (eds.), Metaphysics in Contemporary Physics. Brill Rodopi. pp. 215-236.
    This paper defends a relational view of time based on recent work on quantum gravity. Julian barbour's relational approach to physical theory, in particular, is developed as a basis for a relational, rather than anti-realist, metaphysics of time.
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  16. The ‘Space’ at the Intersection of Platonism and Nominalism.Edward Slowik - 2015 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 46 (2):393-408.
    This essay explores the use of platonist and nominalist concepts, derived from the philosophy of mathematics and metaphysics, as a means of elucidating the debate on spacetime ontology and the spatial structures endorsed by scientific realists. Although the disputes associated with platonism and nominalism often mirror the complexities involved with substantivalism and relationism, it will be argued that a more refined three-part distinction among platonist/nominalist categories can nonetheless provide unique insights into the core assumptions that underlie spatial ontologies, but it (...)
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  17. On Where Things Could Be.Jeffrey Sanford Russell - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (1):60-80.
    Some philosophers respond to Leibniz’s “shift” argument against absolute space by appealing to antihaecceitism about possible worlds, using David Lewis’s counterpart theory. But separated from Lewis’s distinctive system, it is difficult to understand what this doctrine amounts to or how it bears on the Leibnizian argument. In fact, the best way of making sense of the relevant kind of antihaecceitism concedes the main point of the Leibnizian argument, pressing us to consider alternative spatiotemporal metaphysics.
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  18. The Deep Metaphysics of Quantum Gravity: The Seventeenth Century Legacy and an Alternative Ontology Beyond Substantivalism and Relationism.Edward Slowik - 2013 - Studies in the History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 44 (4):490-499.
    This essay presents an alternative to contemporary substantivalist and relationist interpretations of quantum gravity hypotheses by means of an historical comparison with the ontology of space in the seventeenth century. Utilizing differences in the spatial geometry between the foundational theory and the theory derived from the foundational, in conjunction with nominalism and platonism, it will be argued that there are crucial similarities between seventeenth century and contemporary theories of space, and that these similarities reveal a host of underlying conceptual issues (...)
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  19. The 'Properties' of Leibnizian Space: Whither Relationism?Edward Slowik - 2012 - Intellectual History Review 22 (1):107-129.
    This essay examines the metaphysical foundation of Leibniz’s theory of space against the backdrop of the subtantivalism/relationism debate and at the ontological level of material bodies and properties. As will be demonstrated, the details of Leibniz’ theory defy a straightforward categorization employing the standard relationism often attributed to his views. Rather, a more careful analysis of his metaphysical doctrines related to bodies and space will reveal the importance of a host of concepts, such as the foundational role of God, the (...)
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  20. The Relationist and Substantivalist Theories of Time: Foes or Friends?Jiri Benovsky - 2011 - European Journal of Philosophy 19 (4):491-506.
    Abstract: There are two traditionally rival views about the nature of time: substantivalism that takes time to be a substance that exists independently of events located in it, and relationism that takes time to be constructed out of events. In this paper, first, I want to make some progress with respect to the debate between these two views, and I do this mainly by examining the strategies they use to face the possibilities of ‘empty time’ and ‘time without change’. As (...)
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  21. Relational and Substantival Ontologies, and the Nature and the Role of Primitives in Ontological Theories.Jiri Benovsky - 2010 - Erkenntnis 73 (1):101-121.
    Several metaphysical debates have typically been modeled as oppositions between a relationist approach and a substantivalist approach. Such debates include the Bundle Theory and the Substratum Theory about ordinary material objects, the Bundle (Humean) Theory and the Substance (Cartesian) Theory of the Self, and Relationism and Substantivalism about time. In all three debates, the substantivalist side typically insists that in order to provide a good treatment of the subject-matter of the theory (time, Self, material objects), it is necessary to postulate (...)
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  22. Newton's Metaphysics of Space: A “Tertium Quid” Betwixt Substantivalism and Relationism, or Merely a “God of the (Rational Mechanical) Gaps”?Edward Slowik - 2009 - Perspectives on Science 17 (4):pp. 429-456.
    This paper investigates the question of, and the degree to which, Newton’s theory of space constitutes a third-way between the traditional substantivalist and relationist ontologies, i.e., that Newton judged that space is neither a type of substance/entity nor purely a relation among such substances. A non-substantivalist reading of Newton has been famously defended by Howard Stein, among others; but, as will be demonstrated, these claims are problematic on various grounds, especially as regards Newton’s alleged rejection of the traditional substance/accident dichotomy (...)
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  23. Another Go-Around on Leibniz and Rotation.Edward Slowik - 2009 - The Leibniz Review 19:131-137.
    This essay comments on the complexity of the task of accommodating Leibniz’s account of relational motion with his dynamics, as evident in Anja Jauernig’s (2008) Leibniz Review article, and suggests some possible strategies for overcoming these obstacles.
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  24. The ‘Dynamics’ of Leibnizian Relationism: Reference Frames and Force in Leibniz’s Plenum.Edward Slowik - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 37:617-634.
    This paper explores various metaphysical aspects of Leibniz’s concepts of space, motion, and matter, with the intention of demonstrating how the distinctive role of force in Leibnizian physics can be used to develop a theory of relational motion using privileged reference frames. Although numerous problems will remain for a consistent Leibnizian relationist account, the version developed within our investigation will advance the work of previous commentators by more accurately reflecting the specific details of Leibniz’s own natural philosophy, especially his handling (...)
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  25. Spacetime, Ontology, and Structural Realism.Edward Slowik - 2005 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 19 (2):147 – 166.
    This essay explores the possibility of constructing a structural realist interpretation of spacetime theories that can resolve the ontological debate between substantivalists and relationists. Drawing on various structuralist approaches in the philosophy of mathematics, as well as on the theoretical complexities of general relativity, our investigation will reveal that a structuralist approach can be beneficial to the spacetime theorist as a means of deflating some of the ontological disputes regarding similarly structured spacetimes.
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  26. On the Cartesian Ontology of General Relativity: Or, Conventionalism in the History of the Substantival‐Relational Debate.Edward Slowik - 2005 - Philosophy of Science 72 (5):1312-1323.
    Utilizing Einstein’s comparison of General Relativity and Descartes’ physics, this investigation explores the alleged conventionalism that pervades the ontology of substantival and relationist conceptions of spacetime. Although previously discussed, namely by Rynasiewicz and Hoefer, it will be argued that the close similarities between General Relativity and Cartesian physics have not been adequately treated in the literature—and that the disclosure of these similarities bolsters the case for a conventionalist interpretation of spacetime ontology.
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  27. Descartes’ Forgotten Hypotheses on Motion: Kinematic Logic and Relational Transfer.Edward Slowik - 2002 - Journal of Philosophical Research 27:433-448.
    This essay explores two of the more neglected hypotheses that comprise, or supplement, Descartes’ relationalist doctrine of bodily motion. These criteria are of great importance, for they would appear to challenge Descartes’ principal judgment that motion is a purely reciprocal change of a body’s contiguous neighborhood. After critiquing the work of the few commentators who have previously examined these forgotten hypotheses, mainly, D. Garber and M. Gueroult, the overall strengths and weaknesses of Descartes’ supplementary criteria will be assessed. Overall, despite (...)
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  28. Descartes' Quantity of Motion: 'New Age' Holism Meets the Cartesian Conservation Principle.Edward Slowik - 1999 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 80 (2):178–202.
    This essay explores various problematical aspects of Descartes' conservation principle for the quantity of motion (size times speed), particularly its largely neglected "dual role" as a measure of both durational motion and instantaneous "tendencies towards motion". Overall, an underlying non-local, or "holistic", element of quantity of motion (largely derived from his statics) will be revealed as central to a full understanding of the conservation principle's conceptual development and intended operation; and this insight can be of use in responding to some (...)
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  29. Descartes, Spacetime, and Relational Motion.Edward Slowik - 1999 - Philosophy of Science 66 (1):117-139.
    This paper examines Descartes' problematic relational theory of motion, especially when viewed within the context of his dynamics, the Cartesian natural laws. The work of various commentators on Cartesian motion is also surveyed, with particular emphasis placed upon the recent important texts of Garber and Des Chene. In contrast to the methodology of most previous interpretations, however, this essay employs a modern "spacetime" approach to the problem. By this means, the role of dynamics in Descartes' theory, which has often been (...)
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  30. Cartesianism and the Kinematics of Mechanisms: Or, How to Find Fixed Reference Frames in a Cartesian Space-Time.Edward Slowik - 1998 - Noûs 32 (3):364-385.
    In De gravitatione, Newton contends that Descartes' physics is fundamentally untenable since the "fixed" spatial landmarks required to ground the concept of inertial motion cannot be secured in the constantly changing Cartesian plenum. Likewise, it is has often been alleged that the collision rules in Descartes' Principles of Philosophy undermine the "relational" view of space and motion advanced in this text. This paper attempts to meet these challenges by investigating the theory of connected gears (or "kinematics of mechanisms") for a (...)
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  31. Huygens' Center-of-Mass Space-Time Reference Frame: Constructing a Cartesian Dynamics in the Wake of Newton's “de Gravitatione” Argument.Edward Slowik - 1997 - Synthese 112 (2):247-269.
    This paper explores the possibility of constructing a Cartesian space-time that can resolve the dilemma posed by a famous argument from Newton's early essay, De gravitatione. In particular, Huygens' concept of a center-of-mass reference frame is utilized in an attempt to reconcile Descartes' relationalist theory of space and motion with both the Cartesian analysis of bodily impact and conservation law for quantity of motion. After presenting a modern formulation of a Cartesian space-time employing Huygens' frames, a series of Newtonian counter-replies (...)
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  32. On the Persistence of the Ether as Absolute Space.Hernán G. Solari & Mario A. Natiello - manuscript
    We analyse how the concept of the ether, playing the role of absolute space, is still present in physics. When the problem is considered in the context of classical mechanics, we show that vestiges of absolute space can be found in the standard presentation of inertial systems. We offer an alternative --fully relational-- definition of inertial systems which not only eliminates the problem but it further shows that the equivalence principle is just a particular consequence of the No Arbitrariness Principle. (...)
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