The Physics and Metaphysics of Primitive Stuff

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (1):133-61 (2017)
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The article sets out a primitive ontology of the natural world in terms of primitive stuff—that is, stuff that has as such no physical properties at all—but that is not a bare substratum either, being individuated by metrical relations. We focus on quantum physics and employ identity-based Bohmian mechanics to illustrate this view, but point out that it applies all over physics. Properties then enter into the picture exclusively through the role that they play for the dynamics of the primitive stuff. We show that such properties can be local, as well as holistic, and discuss two metaphysical options to conceive them, namely, Humeanism and modal realism in the guise of dispositionalism. 1 Introduction2 Primitive Ontology: Primitive Stuff3 The Physics of Matter as Primitive Stuff4 The Humean Best System Analysis of the Dynamical Variables5 Modal Realism about the Dynamical Variables6 Conclusion.

Author Profiles

Mario Hubert
American University in Cairo
Michael Esfeld
University of Lausanne
Dustin Lazarovici
Technion, Israel Institute of Technology
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