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Thinking about Spacetime

In Christian Wüthrich, Baptiste Le Bihan & Nick Huggett (eds.), Philosophy Beyond Spacetime. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2021)

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  1. Non-Spatial Matters: On the Possibility of Non-Spatial Material Objects.Cruz Davis - forthcoming - Synthese.
    While there is considerable disagreement on the precise nature of material objecthood, it is standardly assumed that material objects must be spatial. In this paper, I provide two arguments against this assumption. The first argument is made from largely a priori considerations about modal plenitude. The possibility of non-spatial material objects follows from commitment to certain plausible principles governing material objecthood and plausible principles regarding modal plenitude. The second argument draws from current philosophical discussions regarding theories of quantum gravity and (...)
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  • Quantum Gravity and Mereology: Not So Simple.Sam Baron & Baptiste Le Bihan - 2022 - Philosophical Quarterly 72 (1):19-40.
    A number of philosophers have argued in favour of extended simples on the grounds that they are needed by fundamental physics. The arguments typically appeal to theories of quantum gravity. To date, the argument in favour of extended simples has ignored the fact that the very existence of spacetime is put under pressure by quantum gravity. We thus consider the case for extended simples in the context of different views on the existence of spacetime. We show that the case for (...)
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  • Spacetime Emergence in Quantum Gravity: Functionalism and the Hard Problem.Baptiste Le Bihan - 2021 - Synthese 199 (2):371–393.
    Spacetime functionalism is the view that spacetime is a functional structure implemented by a more fundamental ontology. Lam and Wüthrich have recently argued that spacetime functionalism helps to solve the epistemological problem of empirical coherence in quantum gravity and suggested that it also (dis)solves the hard problem of spacetime, namely the problem of offering a picture consistent with the emergence of spacetime from a non-spatio-temporal structure. First, I will deny that spacetime functionalism solves the hard problem by showing that it (...)
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  • Spacetime is as spacetime does.Vincent Lam & Christian Wüthrich - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 64:39-51.
    Theories of quantum gravity generically presuppose or predict that the reality underlying relativistic spacetimes they are describing is significantly non-spatiotemporal. On pain of empirical incoherence, approaches to quantum gravity must establish how relativistic spacetime emerges from their non-spatiotemporal structures. We argue that in order to secure this emergence, it is sufficient to establish that only those features of relativistic spacetimes functionally relevant in producing empirical evidence must be recovered. In order to complete this task, an account must be given of (...)
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  • Empirical incoherence and double functionalism.Sam Baron - 2019 - Synthese (Suppl 2):1-27.
    Recent work on quantum gravity suggests that neither spacetime nor spatiotemporally located entites exist at a fundamental level. The loss of both brings with it the threat of empirical incoherence. A theory is empirically incoherent when the truth of that theory undermines the empirical justification for believing it. If neither spacetime nor spatiotemporally located entities exist as a part of a fundamental theory of QG, then such a theory seems to imply that there are no observables and so no way (...)
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  • Spacetime Quietism in Quantum Gravity.Sam Baron & Baptiste Le Bihan - 2022 - In Antonio Vassallo (ed.), The Foundations of Spacetime Physics: Philosophical Perspectives. New York, NY: Routledge. pp. 155-175.
    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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  • Einstein Vs. Bergson: An Enduring Quarrel on Time.Alessandra Campo & Simone Gozzano (eds.) - 2021 - Boston: De Gruyter.
    This book brings together papers from a conference that took place in the city of L'Aquila, 4–6 April 2019, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the earthquake that struck on 6 April 2009. Philosophers and scientists from diverse fields of research debated the problem that, on 6 April 1922, divided Einstein and Bergson: the nature of time. For Einstein, scientific time is the only time that matters and the only time we can rely on. Bergson, however, believes that scientific time (...)
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  • Spacetime functionalism from a realist perspective.Vincent Lam & Christian Wüthrich - 2020 - Synthese 199 (Suppl 2):1-19.
    In prior work, we have argued that spacetime functionalism provides tools for clarifying the conceptual difficulties specifically linked to the emergence of spacetime in certain approaches to quantum gravity. We argue in this article that spacetime functionalism in quantum gravity is radically different from other functionalist approaches that have been suggested in quantum mechanics and general relativity: in contrast to these latter cases, it does not compete with purely interpretative alternatives, but is rather intertwined with the physical theorizing itself at (...)
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  • Perceptual illusionism.Brian Cutter - 2021 - Analytic Philosophy 62 (4):396-417.
    Perceptual illusionism is the view that perceptual experience is, in general, radically illusory. That is, perceptual experience presents objects as having certain sensible properties and standing in certain sensible relations, but nothing in the subject’s environment has those properties or stands in those relations. This paper makes the case for perceptual illusionism by showing how a broad set of philosophical and scientific considerations converge to support illusionism about the full range of sensible properties and relations. After clarifying the illusionist thesis, (...)
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  • Temporal Fictionalism for a Timeless World.Sam Baron, Kristie Miller & Jonathan Tallant - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 102 (2):281-301.
    Current debate in the metaphysics of time ordinarily assumes that we should be realists about time. Recently, however, a number of physicists and philosophers of physics have proposed that time will play no role in a completed theory of quantum gravity. This paper defends fictionalism about temporal thought, on the supposition that our world is timeless. We argue that, in the face of timeless physical theories, realism about temporal thought is unsustainable: some kind of anti-realism must be adopted. We go (...)
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  • Spacetime: function and approximation.Sam Baron - 2022 - Synthese 200 (2).
    Several approaches to quantum gravity signal the loss of spacetime at some level. According to spacetime functionalism, spacetime is functionally realised by a more fundamental structure. According to one version of spacetime functionalism, the spacetime role is specified by Ramsifying general relativity. In some approaches to QG, however, there does not appear to be anything that exactly realises the functional role defined by a Ramsey sentence for GR. The spacetime role is approximately realised. It is open to the spacetime functionalist (...)
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  • Eliminating Spacetime.Sam Baron - 2021 - Erkenntnis 88 (3):1289-1308.
    A number of approaches to quantum gravity (QG) seem to imply that spacetime does not exist. Philosophers are quick to point out, however, that the loss of spacetime should not be regarded as total. Rather, we should interpret these approaches as ones that threaten the fundamentality but not the existence of spacetime. In this paper, I argue for two claims. First, I argue that spacetime realism is not forced by QG; spacetime eliminativism remains an option. Second, I argue that eliminativism (...)
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  • Eliminating Spacetime.Sam Baron - 2021 - Erkenntnis (3):1-20.
    A number of approaches to quantum gravity (QG) seem to imply that spacetime does not exist. Philosophers are quick to point out, however, that the loss of spacetime should not be regarded as total. Rather, we should interpret these approaches as ones that threaten the fundamentality but not the existence of spacetime. In this paper, I argue for two claims. First, I argue that spacetime realism is not forced by QG; spacetime eliminativism remains an option. Second, I argue that eliminativism (...)
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  • Composing Spacetime.Sam Baron & Baptiste Le Bihan - 2022 - Journal of Philosophy 119 (1):33-54.
    According to a number of approaches in theoretical physics, spacetime does not exist fundamentally. Rather, spacetime exists by depending on another, more fundamental, non-spatiotemporal structure. A prevalent opinion in the literature is that this dependence should not be analyzed in terms of composition. We should not say, that is, that spacetime depends on an ontology of non-spatiotemporal entities in virtue of having them as parts. But is that really right? On the contrary, we argue that a mereological approach to dependent (...)
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  • Wave-functionalism.Valia Allori - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):12271-12293.
    In this paper I present a new perspective for interpreting the wavefunction as a non-material, non-epistemic, non-representational entity. I endorse a functional view according to which the wavefunction is defined by its roles in the theory. I argue that this approach shares some similarities with the nomological account of the wave function as well as with the pragmatist and epistemic approaches to quantum theory, while avoiding the major objections of these alternatives.
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