The consensus among spacetime substantivalists is to respond to Leibniz's classic shift arguments, and their contemporary incarnation in the form of the hole argument, by pruning the allegedly problematic metaphysical possibilities that generate these arguments. Some substantivalists do so by directly appealing to a modal doctrine akin to anti-haecceitism. Other substantivalists do so by appealing to an underlying hyperintensional doctrine that implies some such modal doctrine. My first aim in this paper is to pose a challenge for all extant forms (...) of this consensus position. My second aim is to show what form substantivalism must take in order to uphold the consensus while addressing this challenge. The result is a novel "plenitudinous" substantivalist view, which predicts that certain modal facts about spacetime are vague or indeterminate. I then argue against this view on independent grounds, concluding that substantivalists should reject the consensus position. The paper also discusses the way forward for substantivalists in light of this conclusion. (shrink)
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 we shall see, the two allegedly very different rival views are much less different than has been thought: their structure is extremely similar, their strategies are extremely similar, and they can both face the possibilities of ‘empty time’ and ‘time without change’ in the same way. Thus, I argue in favour of a certain kind of equivalence between the two views; I discuss a Strong and a Weak version of this claim; and I provide reasons for endorsing the former. I also discuss the parallel between this pair of views about the nature of time and another analogous pair of views: the bundle theory and the substratum theory about the nature of material objects, with respect to the problem with Identity of Indiscernibles. (shrink)
I present a discussion of some issues in the ontology of spacetime. After a characterisation of the controversies among relationists, substantivalists, eternalists, and presentists, I offer a new argument for rejecting presentism, the doctrine that only present objects exist. Then, I outline and defend a form of spacetime realism that I call event substantivalism. I propose an ontological theory for the emergence of spacetime from more basic entities. Finally, I argue that a relational theory of pre-geometric entities can give (...) rise to substantival spacetime in such a way that relationism and substantivalism are not necessarily opposed positions, but rather complementary. In an appendix I give axiomatic formulations of my ontological views. (shrink)
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 (...) that the substantival/relational dichotomy fails to distinguish. (shrink)
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 (...) concerning space. Nevertheless, our analysis of the metaphysical foundations of Newton’s spatial theory will strive to uncover its unique and innovative characteristics, most notably, the distinctive role that Newton’s “immaterialist” spatial ontology plays in his dynamics. (shrink)
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 of substantivalism that respects Leibnizian theses about space-time symmetries, and argue that it is superior to both relationism and the more orthodox form of substantivalism. (shrink)
In his “Space, supervenience and substantivalism”, Le Poidevin proposes a substantivalism in which space is discrete, implying that there are unmediated spatial relations between neighboring primitive points. This proposition is motivated by his concern that relationism suffers from an explanatory lacuna and that substantivalism gives rise to a vicious regress. Le Poidevin implicitly requires that the relationist be committed to the “only x and y ” principle regarding spatial relations. It is not obvious that the relationist is (...) committed to this principle in such a context. An additional motivation for Le Poidevin's argument, that space should be considered to be discrete, is that he believes that substantivalists are committed to a vicious regress. I show that the regress is in fact not of the vicious variety. These two main arguments show that Le Poidevin's suggestion that we drop the density postulate for space is unnecessary. (shrink)
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 the existence of a certain kind of substance, while the other side, the relationist one, characteristically feels that this is an unnecessary expense and that one can get the job done in an ontologically cheaper way just with inter-related properties or events. In this paper I shall defend the view that there is much less of a disagreement between relational ontologies and substantival ontologies than it is usually thought. I believe that, when carefully examined, the two sides of the debate are not that different from each other, in all three cases of pairs of views mentioned above. As we will see, both the relational side and the substantival side work in the same way, suffer from and answer the same objections, and are structurally extremely similar. It will be an important question – one that I shall discuss in detail, and that is indeed the main point of interest for me in this paper – whether this means that the two sides of the debate are somehow 'equivalent' or not, and what 'equivalent' could mean. (shrink)
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 directly instantiated by spacetime without the mediation of material objects, then, surely, spacetime has to be a substance. After introducing briefly the two debates about spacetime (§1) and material objects (§2), I will present Schaffer's super-substantivalism (§3), the conjunction of substantivalism about spacetime and eliminativism about material objects at the fundamental level. I shall then expose and discuss the assumption from which the implication from eliminativism to substantivalism is drawn, and discuss the compatibility of eliminativism with relationism: if spacetime is not a substance, and if material objects are not real, how are we to understand the instantiation of properties (§4)? And what are the relata of spatio-temporal relations (§5)? I then show that each argument in favor of super-substantivalism offered by Schaffer also holds for super-relationism (§6) and examine several metaphysical consequences of the view (§7). I conclude that both super-substantivalism and super-relationism are compatible with Schaffer's priority monism (§8). (shrink)
Modern cosmology treats space and time, or rather space-time, as concrete particulars. The General Theory of Relativity combines the distribution of matter and energy with the curvature of space-time. Here space-time appears as a concrete entity which affects matter and energy and is affected by the things in it. I question the idea that space-time is a concrete existing entity which both substantivalism and reductive relationism maintain. Instead I propose an alternative view, which may be called non-reductive relationism, by (...) arguing that space and time are abstract entities based on extension and changes. (shrink)
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.
This paper investigates Newton’s ontology of space in order to determine its commitment, if any, to both Cambridge neo-Platonism, which posits an incorporeal basis for space, and substantivalism, which regards space as a form of substance or entity. A non-substantivalist interpretation of Newton’s theory has been famously championed by Howard Stein and Robert DiSalle, among others, while both Stein and the early work of J. E. McGuire have downplayed the influence of Cambridge neo-Platonism on various aspects of Newton’s own (...) spatial hypotheses. Both of these assertions will be shown to be problematic on various grounds, with special emphasis placed on Stein’s influential case for a non-substantivalist reading. Our analysis will strive, nonetheless, to reveal the unique or forward-looking aspects of Newton’s approach, most notably, his critical assessment of substance ontologies, that help to distinguish his theory of space from his neo-Platonic contemporaries and predecessors. (shrink)
The present paper aims to contribute to the substantivalism versus relationalism debate and to defend general relativity (GR) against pseudoscientific attacks in a novel, especially inclusive way. This work was initially motivated by the desire to establish the incompatibility of any ether theories with accelerated cosmic expansion and inflation (motto: where would a hypothetical medium supposedly come from so fast?). The failure of this program is of interest for emergent GR concepts in high energy particle physics. However, it becomes (...) increasingly important to guard scientific results against their misrepresentation by fundamentally anti-scientific agendas. We therefore argue that although it is not known whether the perceived space-time is fundamental (rather than a condensed state or a particular membrane), in a fundamental theory, space-time must be abstract relational: fundamental space-time is the consistent spatial-temporal arrangement of events. To pursue its own goals, this work should be accessible to a wide audience: physicists, philosophers of science, those being tempted by anti-relativity theories, but also those who vigorously defend some orthodox relativity that is not actually supported by GR. It must thus be extensive in order to satisfy the different parties’ desire to have included and understood their respective positions. (shrink)
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 also assists in critiquing alternative uses of nominalism, platonism, and both ontic and epistemic structural realism. (shrink)
This paper reviews the hole argument as an argument against spacetime substantivalism. After a careful presentation of the argument itself, I critically review possible responses.
Formal criteria of theoretical equivalence are mathematical mappings between specific sorts of mathematical objects, notably including those objects used in mathematical physics. Proponents of formal criteria claim that results involving these criteria have implications that extend beyond pure mathematics. For instance, they claim that formal criteria bear on the project of using our best mathematical physics as a guide to what the world is like, and also have deflationary implications for various debates in the metaphysics of physics. In this paper, (...) I investigate whether there is a defensible view according to which formal criteria have significant non-mathematical implications, of these sorts or any other, reaching a chiefly negative verdict. Along the way, I discuss various foundational issues concerning how we use mathematical objects to describe the world when doing physics, and how this practice should inform metaphysics. I diagnose the prominence of formal criteria as stemming from contentious views on these foundational issues, and endeavor to motivate some alternative views in their stead. (shrink)
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 (...) in the absence of answers to fundamental metaphysical questions like the substantivalist/relationist debate. (shrink)
The hole argument purports to show that all spacetime theories of a certain form are indeterministic, including the General Theory of Relativity. The argument has given rise to an industry of searching for a metaphysics of spacetime that delivers the right modal implications to rescue determinism. In this paper, I first argue that certain prominent extant replies to the hole argument—namely, those that appeal to an essentialist doctrine about spacetime—fail to deliver the requisite modal implications. As part of my argument, (...) I show that threats to determinism of the sort brought out by the hole argument are more general than has heretofore been recognized. I then use these results to propose a novel essentialist doctrine about spacetime that successfully rescues determinism, what I call sufficiency metric essentialism. However, I go on to argue that once we realize what an essentialist doctrine about spacetime must look like in order to address the hole argument, we should reject all such doctrines, because they can't fulfill their ambition of improving on standard modal replies to the argument. I close by suggesting some lessons for future work on spacetime and the metaphysics of physics more broadly, and also drawing some general morals for contemporary metaphysics, in particular about (i) whether essence can be used to articulate a precise structuralist doctrine, and (ii) the relationship between essence and modality. (shrink)
The hole argument purportedly shows that spacetime substantivalism implies a pernicious form of indeterminism. We show that the argument is seductive only because it mistakes a trivial claim (viz. there are isomorphic models) for a significant claim (viz. there are hole isomorphisms). We prove that the latter claim is false -- thereby closing the debate about whether substantivalism implies indeterminism.
This paper is a brief (and hopelessly incomplete) non-standard introduction to the philosophy of space and time. It is an introduction because I plan to give an overview of what I consider some of the main questions about space and time: Is space a substance over and above matter? How many dimensions does it have? Is space-time fundamental or emergent? Does time have a direction? Does time even exist? Nonetheless, this introduction is not standard because I conclude the discussion by (...) presenting the material with an original spin, guided by a particular understanding of fundamental physical theories, the so-called primitive ontology approach. (shrink)
El capítulo introduce al debate sobre la naturaleza del espacio entre Leibniz y Clarke/Newton y a la posición que adopta Kant más tarde. En particular, se exponen los dos principales argumentos de Leibniz, basados en los Principios de Razón Suficiente e Identidad de Indiscernibles, en favor del relacionismo así como algunas respuestas de Clarke/Newton. También se presenta el argumento basado en la orientación del espacio que propuso Kant en 1768 para refutar el relacionismo de Leibniz. Se concluye con una breve (...) exposición del idealismo trascendental de Kant en su Primera Crítica. (shrink)
This essay examines the underdetermination problem that plagues structuralist approaches to spacetime theories, with special emphasis placed on the epistemic brands of structuralism, whether of the scientific realist variety or not. Recent non-realist structuralist accounts, by Friedman and van Fraassen, have touted the fact that different structures can accommodate the same evidence as a virtue vis-à-vis their realist counterparts; but, as will be argued, these claims gain little traction against a properly constructed liberal version of epistemic structural realism. Overall, a (...) broad construal of spacetime theories along epistemic structural realist lines will be defended which draws upon both Friedman’s earlier work and the convergence of approximate structure over theory change, but which also challenges various claims of the ontic structural realists. (shrink)
The central motivating idea behind the development of this work is the concept of prespace, a hypothetical structure that is postulated by some physicists to underlie the fabric of space or space-time. I consider how such a structure could relate to space and space-time, and the rest of reality as we know it, and the implications of the existence of this structure for quantum theory. Understanding how this structure could relate to space and to the rest of reality requires, I (...) believe, that we consider how space itself relates to reality, and how other so-called "spaces" used in physics relate to reality. In chapter 2, I compare space and space-time to other spaces used in physics, such as configuration space, phase space and Hilbert space. I support what is known as the "property view" of space, opposing both the traditional views of space and space-time, substantivalism and relationism. I argue that all these spaces are property spaces. After examining the relationships of these spaces to causality, I argue that configuration space has, due to its role in quantum mechanics, a special status in the microscopic world similar to the status of position space in the macroscopic world. In chapter 3, prespace itself is considered. One way of approaching this structure is through the comparison of the prespace structure with a computational system, in particular to a cellular automaton, in which space or space-time and all other physical quantities are broken down into discrete units. I suggest that one way open for a prespace metaphysics can be found if physics is made fully discrete in this way. I suggest as a heuristic principle that the physical laws of our world are such that the computational cost of implementing those laws on an arbitrary computational system is minimized, adapting a heuristic principle of this type proposed by Feynman. In chapter 4, some of the ideas of the previous chapters are applied in an examination of the physics and metaphysics of quantum theory. I first discuss the "measurement problem" of quantum mechanics: this problem and its proposed solution are the primary subjects of chapter 4. It turns out that considering how quantum theory could be made fully discrete leads naturally to a suggestion of how standard linear quantum mechanics could be modified to give rise to a solution to the measurement problem. The computational heuristic principle reinforces the same solution. I call the modified quantum mechanics Critical Complexity Quantum Mechanics (CCQM). I compare CCQM with some of the other proposed solutions to the measurement problem, in particular the spontaneous localization model of Ghirardi, Rimini and Weber. Finally, in chapters 5 and 6, I argue that the measure of complexity of quantum mechanical states I introduce in CCQM also provides a new definition of entropy for quantum mechanics, and suggests a solution to the problem of providing an objective foundation for statistical mechanics, thermodynamics, and the arrow of time. (shrink)
In the standard model of cosmology, λCDM, were introduced to explain the anomalies of the orbital velocities of galaxies in clusters highest according estimated by General Relativity the dark matter and the accelerated expansion of the universe the dark energy. The model λCDM is based in the equations of the General Relativity that of the total mass-energy of the universe assigns 4.9% to matter (including only baryonic matter), 26.8%, to dark matter and 68.3% to dark energy adjusted according observed in (...) Planck mission, therefore, excluding bosonic matter (quantum vacuum). However, the composition of dark matter and dark energy are unknown. Due to that it lacks of a correct physical theory of gravity since General Relativity is only their powerful equations, which in their applications, their results are interpreted arbitrarily. Properties as curvature, viscous fluid, dragging frame and gravity action are attributed mistakenly to the spacetime by the materialist substantivalism, the most credible philosophical interpretation that complements the General Relativity, caused by its absence of physical definition of spacetime and static gravitational field as immaterial, but which violates, the conception of gravity as an effect of coordinates of the generalization of the inertial motion to the accelerated motion and, in particular, the description of the metric tensor of gravity as a geometric field. These properties are really of the quantum vacuum, the main existence form of the matter. In this paper we propose that the quantum vacuum is the source of dark matter and dark energy, therefore, the components of the quantum vacuum are of them. Both are opposite effects of the quantum vacuum that when gravitationally interacts with the cosmic structures, the vacuum it curves and when such interaction tends to cease by declination of the formation of these structures, occurring since near five milliard of years ago, vacuum it maintains quasi plane, since it interacts gravitationally very weakly with itself, accelerating expansion of the universe. (shrink)
Gravity is the foundation of the current physical paradigm. Due to that gravity is strongly linked to the curvature of space-time, we research that it lacks of a valid physical concept of space-time, nevertheless that from the science philosophy, via substantivalism, it has tried respond. We found that is due to that the gnoseological process applied from the general relativity, necessarily us leads to metaphysic because ontologically space-time is a metaphysical entity. Thus, we arrive to the super substantivalism (...) that from metaphysics gives an answer on space-time rigorously exact with the vision of Einstein on physics. The result is that matter is nothing since all is space-time, i.e. geometry, therefore is a imperative of the physical science break the current paradigm. (shrink)
Gravity is the curvature of spacetime, the structural property of static gravitational field, a geometric field, in curved coordinates, according the functions guv, that express geometric relations between material events. Course, general relativity is a relational theory, however, gravity, a thinking category, has symetric physical effects with matter. We use, analitic and critic method of reread the general relativity, since the perspective of the history of the science and the philosophy of the science. Our goal is driver the debate on (...) gravity, to the arena of the quantum physics, but without the ballast of the general relativity. We find that through of relativist aether was attempted transform spacetime in a substantia without succes, the consequence was return to problematic geometric field. The philosophy of the science intervenes, and according the best philosophical theory of substantivalism, spacetime is a inmaterial, geometric substantia. Then, the metaphysics arrives to a full solution in the super-substantivalism theory, that affirms: matter arises from geometric spacetime. Thus, it explains consistently the symetric physical effects between spacetime and matter. Surely, this solution is a medieval speculation. Our conclusion is that since general relativity do not defined physically spacetime leads necessarily to philosophical definitions of relationism and substantivalism on spacetime that are unacceptable physically. Therefore, gravity is not the curvature of spacetime. (shrink)
General Relativity defines gravity like the metric of a Lorentzian manifold. Einstein formulated spacetime as quality structural of gravity, i.e, circular definition between gravity and spacetime, also Einstein denoted "Space and time are modes by which we think, not conditions under which we live" and “We denote everything but the gravitational field as matter”, therefore, spacetime is nothing and gravity in first approximation an effect of coordinates, and definitely a geometric effect. The mathematical model generates quantitative predictions coincident in high (...) grade with observations without physical meaning. Philosophy intervened: in Substantivalism, spacetime exists in itself while in Relationalism as metrical relations. But, it does not know what spacetime. The outcomes of model have supported during a century, validity of the General Relativity, interpreted arbitrarily. Einstein formulated, from quadrupoles of energy, the formation of ripples in spacetime propagating as gravitational waves abandoned, in 1938, when he said that they do not exist. LIGO announced the first detection of gravitational waves from a pair of merging black holes. They truly are waves of quantum vacuum. (shrink)
In the standard model of cosmology, λCDM, were introduced to explain the anomalies of the orbital velocities of galaxies in clusters highest according estimated by General Relativity the dark matter and the accelerated expansion of the universe the dark energy. The model λCDM is based in the equations of the General Relativity that of the total mass-energy of the universe assigns 4.9% to matter (including only baryonic matter), 26.8%, to dark matter and 68.3% to dark energy adjusted according observed in (...) Planck mission, therefore, excluding bosonic matter (quantum vacuum). However, the composition of dark matter and dark energy are unknown. Due to that it lacks of a correct physical theory of gravity since General Relativity is only their powerful equations, which in their applications, their results are interpreted arbitrarily. Properties as curvature, viscous fluid, dragging frame and gravity action are attributed mistakenly to the spacetime by the materialist substantivalism, the most credible philosophical interpretation that complements the General Relativity, caused by its absence of physical definition of spacetime and static gravitational field as immaterial, but which violates, the conception of gravity as an effect of coordinates of the generalization of the inertial motion to the accelerated motion and, in particular, the description of the metric tensor of gravity as a geometric field. These properties are really of the quantum vacuum, the main existence form of the matter. In this paper we propose that the quantum vacuum is the source of dark matter and dark energy, therefore, the components of the quantum vacuum are of them. Both are opposite effects of the quantum vacuum that when gravitationally interacts with the cosmic structures, the vacuum it curves and when such interaction tends to cease by declination of the formation of these structures, occurring since near five milliard of years ago, vacuum it maintains quasi plane, since it interacts gravitationally very weakly with itself, accelerating expansion of the universe. (shrink)
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