It is shown that the heuristic "derivation" of the Schrödinger equation in quantum mechanics textbooks can be turned into a real derivation by resorting to spacetime translation invariance and relativistic invariance.
According to First-Person Realism, one's own first-person perspective on the world is metaphysically privileged in some way. After clarifying First-Person Realism by reference to parallel debates in the metaphysics of modality and time, I survey eight different arguments in favor of First-Person Realism.
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.
The infamous Hole Argument has led philosophers to develop various versions of substantivalism, of which metric essentialism and sophisticated substantivalism are the most popular. In this journal, Trevor Teitel has recently advanced novel arguments against both positions. However, Teitel does not discuss the position of Jeremy Butterfield, which appeals to Lewisian counterpart theory in order to avoid the Hole Argument. In this note I show that the Lewis-Butterfield view is immune to Teitel's challenges.
We make some remarks on the mathematics and metaphysics of the hole argument, in response to a recent article in this journal by Weatherall (). Broadly speaking, we defend the mainstream philosophical literature from the claim that correct usage of the mathematics of general relativity `blocks' the argument.
This expository paper relates the Hole Argument in general relativity (GR) to the well-known theorem of Choquet-Bruhat and Geroch (1969) on the existence and uniqueness of globally hyperbolic solutions to the Einstein field equations. Like the Earman–Norton (1987) version of the Hole Argument (which is originally due to Einstein), this theorem exposes the tension between determinism and some version of spacetime substantivalism. But it seems less vulnerable to the campaign by Weatherall (2018) and followers to close the Hole Argument on (...) the basis of “mathematical practice,” since the theorem only talks about isometries and hence does not make the pointwise identifications via diffeomorphisms that Weatherall objects to. Among other implications of the theorem for the philosophy of GR, we reconsider Butterfield’s (1987) influential definition of determinism. This should be amended if its goal is to express the idea that GR is deterministic in the absence of Cauchy horizons, although its original form does capture the way GR is indeterministic in their presence! Furthermore, in GR isometries come out as gauge symmetries, as do Poincaré transformations in special relativity. Finally, I discuss some implications of the theorem for the philosophy of science: Accepting the determinism horn still requires a choice between Frege-style abstractionism and Hilbert-style structuralism; and, within the latter, between structural realism and empiricist structuralism (which I favor). (shrink)
We argue that several apparently distinct responses to the hole argument, all invoking formal or mathematical considerations, should be viewed as a unified “mathematical response.” We then consider and rebut two prominent critiques of the mathematical response before reflecting on what is ultimately at issue in this literature.
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)
The hole argument has become one of the main issues in the philosophy of space-time after the article by Earman and Norton (1987), according to which a certain version of substantivalism (manifold substantivalism) cannot be defended because it brings about to a radical indeterminism. In this article, we try to show that, first, the naming of manifold substantivalism is not appropriate since as some philosophers have said, manifold points cannot be considered to have an independent identity. Second, with a commitment (...) to ontic structural realism, it is possible to offer a proper understanding of manifold substantivalism, which according to the hole argument, does not lead to the radical indeterminism. As a result, the hole argument does not arise, simply. Thus, the last point is that the fact that structural realism is able to solve the problem of the hole argument can itself be seen as considerable evidence in favor of this philosophical position, and thus, the degree of its confirmation goes up. (shrink)
I apply homotopy type theory to the hole argument as formulated by Earman and Norton. I argue that HoTT gives a precise sense in which diffeomorphism-related Lorentzian manifolds represent the same spacetime, undermining Earman and Norton’s verificationist dilemma and common formulations of the hole argument. However, adopting this account does not alleviate worries about determinism: general relativity formulated on Lorentzian manifolds is indeterministic using this standard of sameness and the natural formalization of determinism in HoTT. Fixing this indeterminism results in (...) a more faithful mathematical representation of general relativity as used by physicists. It also gives a substantive notion of general covariance. (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)
This essay revisits some classic problems in the philosophy of space and time concerning the counting of possibilities. I argue that we should think that two Newtonian worlds can differ only as to when or where things happen and that general relativistic worlds can differ in something like the same way—the first of these theses being quaintly heterodox, the second baldly heretical, according to the mores of contemporary philosophy of physics.
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)
I argue that the Hole Argument is based on a misleading use of the mathematical formalism of general relativity. If one is attentive to mathematical practice, I will argue, the Hole Argument is blocked.
I examine the debate between substantivalists and relationalists about the ontological character of spacetime and conclude it is not well posed. I argue that the hole argument does not bear on the debate, because it provides no clear criterion to distinguish the positions. I propose two such precise criteria and construct separate arguments based on each to yield contrary conclusions, one supportive of something like relationalism and the other of something like substantivalism. The lesson is that one must fix an (...) investigative context in order to make such criteria precise, but different investigative contexts yield inconsistent results. I examine questions of existence about spacetime structures other than the spacetime manifold itself to argue that it is more fruitful to focus on pragmatic issues of physicality, a notion that lends itself to several different explications, all of philosophical interest, none privileged a priori over any of the others. I conclude by suggesting an extension of the lessons of my arguments to the broader debate between realists and instrumentalists. 1 Introduction2 The Hole Argument3 Limits of Spacetimes4 Pointless Constructions5 The Debate between Substantivalists and Relationalists6 Existence and Physicality: An Embarassment of Spacetime Structures7 Valedictory Remarks on Realism and Instrumentalism, and the Structure of Our Knowledge of Physics. (shrink)
The discovery that Einstein's celebrated argument for general covariance, the 'point-coincidence argument ', was actually a response to the ' hole argument ' has generated an intense philosophical debate in the last thirty years. Even if the philosophical consequences of Einstein's argument turned out to be highly controversial, the protagonists of such a debate seem to agree on considering Einstein's argument as an expression of 'Leibniz equivalence', a modern version of Leibniz's celebrated indiscernibility arguments against Newton's absolute space. The paper (...) attempts to show that the reference to Leibniz, however plausible at first sight, is actually in many respects misleading. In particular it is claimed that the Logical Empiricists offer a significant historical example of an attempt to interpret the point-coincidence argument as an indiscernibility argument in the sense of Leibniz, similar to those used in 19th century by Helmholtz, Hausdorff or Poincaré. However the logical empiricist account of General Relativity clearly failed to grasp the philosophical novelty of Einstein's theory. Thus, if Einstein's point coincidence/ hole argument can be regarded as an indiscernibility argument, it cannot be an indiscernibility argument in the sense of Leibniz. Einstein rather introduced a new form of indiscernibility argument, which might be better described as an expression of 'Einstein-equivalence'. Developing some ideas of Weyl it is argued that, whereas Leibniz's arguments introduced the notion of 'symmetry' in the history of science, Einstein's argument seems to anticipate what we now call 'gauge freedom'. If in the first case indiscernibility arises from a lack of mathematical structure, in the second case it is a consequence of a surplus of mathematical structure. _German_ Die Entdeckung, dass Einsteins berühmtes Punkt-Koinzidenz- Argument zur allgemeinen Kovarianz tatsächlich eine Reaktion auf die Lochbetrachtung war, hat in den vergangenen 30 Jahren zu einer intensiven philosophischen Debatte geführt. Auch wenn die philosophischen Konsequenzen äußerst kontrovers gesehen werden, stimmen die Protogonisten doch darin überein, das Argument als Ausdruck von Leibniz-Äquivalenz, mithin als eine moderne Version von Leibniz berühmten Ununterscheidbarkeitsargumenten gegen Newtons absoluten Raum aufzufassen. Ziel des Aufsatzes ist es zu zeigen, dass der Bezug zu Leibniz, wenn auch auf den ersten Blick plausibel, tatsächlich in vielerlei Hinsicht irreführend ist. Insbesondere wird dahingehend argumentiert, dass die Logischen Empiristen ein signifikantes historisches Beispiel für einen Versuch darstellen, das Punkt-Koinzidenz Argument als ein Ununterscheidbarkeitsargument im Sinne von Leibniz, ähnlich denen im 19. Jahrhundert von Helmholtz, Hausdorff und Poincaré vorgebrachten, zu deuten. Dieser Deutung der Allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie gelingt es aber nicht, das eigentlich philosophisch Neue von Einsteins Theorie plausibel zu interpretieren. Wenn Einsteins Punkt-Koinzidenz/Lochargument als ein Ununterscheidbarkeitsargument angesehen werden soll, kann dies kein Argument à la Leibniz sein. Vielmehr hat Einstein ein neuartiges Ununterscheidbarkeitsargument eingeführt, das vielleicht besser als,Einstein-Äquivalenz' charakterisiert werden sollte. Durch Aufnahme und Weiterentwicklung einiger Ideen von Weyl wird gezeigt, dass Leibniz' Argumente zwar das Konzept der,Symmetrie' in die Wissenschaftsgeschichte eingebracht haben, Einsteins Argument aber etwas antizipiert hat, was heute gewöhnlich,Eichfreiheit' genannt wird. Wird im ersten Fall die Ununterscheidbarkeit durch ein zu wenig an mathematischer Struktur erzeugt, so ist sie im zweiten Fall gerade die Folge eines Überschusses an mathematischer Struktur. (shrink)
Substantivalists believe that spacetime and its parts are fundamental constituents of reality. Relationalists deny this, claiming that spacetime enjoys only a derivative existence. I begin by describing how the Galilean symmetries of Newtonian physics tell against both Newton's brand of substantivalism and the most obvious relationalist alternative. I then review the obvious substantivalist response to the problem, which is to ditch substantival space for substantival spacetime. The resulting position has many affinities with what are arguably the most natural interpretations of (...) special and general relativity. I move on to consider and reject two recent antisubstantivalist lines of thought. The interim conclusion is that the best argument for relationalism is an appeal to Ockham's razor. However, for this to be successful there must be genuine relationalist theories that share the theoretical virtues of their substantivalist rivals but without the additional ontological commitment. The bulk of the paper is therefore an investigation of various concrete relationalist proposals. I distinguish three options for the relationalist in the face of the success of Galilean invariant physics and trace how these generalise to relativistic physics. One of the options is particularly promising but, since its basic objects end up being spacetime points, this does not help the prospects of relationalism as traditionally conceived. I end with some reflections on the fate of substantivalism in the aftermath of the Hole Argument, concluding that we have as yet to be given good reasons to abandon the natural, substantivalist interpretation of current physics. (shrink)
Total ontological unification of matter at all levels of reality as a whole, its “grasp” of its dialectical structure, space dimensionality and structure of the language of nature – “house of Being” , gives the opportunity to see the “place” and to understand the nature of information as a phenomenon of Ontological (structural) Memory (OntoMemory), the measure of being of the whole, “the soul of matter”, qualitative quantity of the absolute forms of existence of matter (absolute states). “Information” and “time” (...) are multivalent phenomena of Ontological Memory substantiating the essential unity of the world on the “horizontal” and “vertical”. Ontological constructing of dialectics of Logos self-motion, total unification of matter, “grasp” of the nature of information leads to the necessity of introducing a new unit of information showing the ideas of dialectical formation and generation of new structures and meanings, namely Delta-Logit (Δ-Logit), qualitative quantum-prototecton, fundamental organizing, absolute existential-extreme. The simplest mathematical symbol represents the dialectical microprocessor of the Nature. Ontological formula of John A. Wheeler «It from Bit»  is “grasped” as the first dialectic link in the chain of ontological formulas → “It from Δ-Logit” → “It from OntoMemory” → “It from Logos, Logos into It”. Ontological Memory - core, semantic attractor of the new conceptual structure of the world of the Information Age, which is based on Absolute generating structure («general framework structure»), the representant of onto-genetic code and algorithm of the Universe. (shrink)
”The last remnant of physical objectivity of space-time” is disclosed in the case of a continuous family of spatially non-compact models of general relativity. The physical individuation of point-events is furnished by the autonomous degrees of freedom of the gravitational field, which represent -as it were -the ontic part of the metric field. The physical role of the epistemic part is likewise clarified as embodying the unavoidable non-inertial aspects of GR. At the end the philosophical import of the Hole Argument (...) is substantially weakened and in fact the Argument itself dis-solved, while a specific four-dimensional holistic and structuralist view of space-time emerges, including elements common to the tradition of both substantivalism and relationism. The observables of our models undergo real temporal change: this gives new evidence to the fact that statements like the frozen-time character of evolution, as other ontological claims about GR, are model dependent. (shrink)
Doubts are raised concerning Rickles' claim that ``an exact analog of the hole argument can be constructed in the loop representation of quantum gravity'' (Rickles, `A new spin on the hole argument', Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 36 (2005) 415–434).
Two fundamental errors led Einstein to reject generally covariant gravitational field equations for over two years as he was developing his general theory of relativity. The first is well known in the literature. It was the presumption that weak, static gravitational fields must be spatially flat and a corresponding assumption about his weak field equations. I conjecture that a second hitherto unrecognized error also defeated Einstein's efforts. The same error, months later, allowed the hole argument to convince Einstein that all (...) generally covariant gravitational field equations would be physically uninteresting. (shrink)
In his paper ``What is Structural Realism?'' James Ladyman drew a distinction between epistemological structural realism and metaphysical (or ontic) structural realism. He also drew a suggestive analogy between the perennial debate between substantivalist and relationalist interpretations of spacetime on the one hand, and the debate about whether quantum mechanics treats identical particles as individuals or as `non-individuals' on the other. In both cases, Ladyman's suggestion is that an ontic structural realist interpretation of the physics might be just what is (...) needed to overcome the stalemate. The main thesis of this paper is that, whatever the interpretative difficulties of generally covariant spacetime physics are, they do not support or suggest structural realism. In particular, I hope to show that there is in fact no analogy that supports a similar interpretation of the metaphysics of spacetime points and of quantum particles. (shrink)
This brief paper shows how an exact analogue of Einstein's original hole argument can be constructed in the loop representation of quantum gravity. The new argument is based on the embedding of spin-networks in a manifold and the action of the diffeomorphism constraint on them. The implications of this result are then discussed. I argue that the conclusions of many physicists working on loop quantum gravity---Rovelli and Smolin in particular---that the loop representation uniquely supports relationalism are unfounded.
Einstein algebras have been suggested (Earman 1989) and rejected (Rynasiewicz 1992) as a way to avoid the hole argument against spacetime substantivalism. In this article, I debate their merits and faults. In particular, I suggest that a gauge‐invariant interpretation of Einstein algebras that avoids the hole argument can be associated with one approach to quantizing gravity, and, for this reason, is at least as well motivated as sophisticated substantivalist and relationalist interpretations of the standard tensor formalism.
The philosophical literature on time and change is fixated on the issue of whether the B-series account of change is adequate or whether real change requires Becoming of either the property-based variety of McTaggart's A-series or the non-property-based form embodied in C. D. Broad's idea of the piling up of successive layers of existence. For present purposes it is assumed that the B-series suffices to ground real change. But then it is noted that modern science in the guise of Einstein's (...) general theory poses a threat to real change by implying that none of the genuine physical magnitudes countenanced by the theory changes its value with time. The aims of this paper are to explain how this seemingly paradoxical conclusion arises and to assess the merits and demerits of possible reactions to it. (shrink)
It has long been a commonplace that there is a problem understanding the role of time when one tries to quantize the General Theory of Relativity (GTR). In his "Thoroughly Modern McTaggart" (Philosophers' Imprint Vol 2, No. 3), John Earman presents several arguments to the conclusion that there is a problem understanding change and the passage of time in the unadorned GTR, quite apart from quantization. His Young McTaggart argues that according to the GTR, no physical magnitude ever changes. A (...) close consideration of Young McTaggart's arguments show that they turn on either a bad choice of formalism or an unwarranted interpretation of the implications of the formalism. This suggests that the problems that arise in quantization may be founded in similar shortcomings. (shrink)
In general relativity, a spacetime and a gravitational field form an indivisible unit: no field, no spacetime. This is a lesson of Einstein's hole argument. We use a simple transformation in a Schwartzschild pacetime to illustrate this.
The past thirty years has witnessed a resurgence of interest in 'realist ontologies': views that treat properties and relations realistically. Such views necessitate a metaphysical account of the structure of concrete particulars. One such account is the Substratum theory of concrete particulars, on which concrete particulars are composed of their properties together with a substratum that individuates them and bears these properties. A traditional objection to this account is that the substratum would be unknowable. Recently, several philosophers supporting a realist (...) ontology have argued for versions of this traditional Substratum theory, insisting that this epistemic objection to the substratum can be overcome. I argue that this cannot be done. Specifically, I claim that either the substratum leads to a vicious regress or else it fails to meet epistemic constraints widely enforced in metaphysics. Therefore, realist ontologies must provide a Bundle theory of concrete particulars . ;Consequently, the traditional version of the Bundle theory, which construes properties to be universals, is assessed. The main objections that have been raised against this version of the theory are rejected; this includes what has been traditionally the most prominent objection, the charge that it is committed to the necessitation of the Identity of Indiscernibles. However, I also show that the theory requires applying the notion of bi-location to concrete particulars. I claim that this violates strong pre-theoretic intuitions about concrete particulars and renders the traditional Bundle theory inconsistent with a view attractive to contemporary realists, spacetime substantivalism. For these reasons, it is argued that the realist should adopt a Bundle theory that treats properties as tropes, rather than as universals. A Bundle theory formulated using tropes does not face the above limitations because it does not require the bi-location of concrete particulars. I also argue that the Bundle of tropes view has a further advantage over competing accounts of concrete particulars: it defuses the most serious theoretical obstacle to spacetime substantivalism: the notorious 'hole argument'. (shrink)
One of the most serious theoretical obstacles to contemporary spacetime substantivalism is Earman and Norton's hole argument. We argue that applying the bundle theory of substance to spacetime points allows spacetime substantivalists to escape the conclusion of this argument. Some philosophers have claimed that the bundle theory cannot be applied to substantival spacetime in this way due to problems in individuating spacetime points in symmetrical spacetimes. We demonstrate that it is possible to overcome these difficulties if spatiotemporal properties are viewed (...) as tropes rather than universals. (shrink)
What is the meaning of general covariance? We learn something about it from the hole argument, due originally to Einstein. In his search for a theory of gravity, he noted that if the equations of motion are covariant under arbitrary coordinate transformations, then particle coordinates at a given time can be varied arbitrarily - they are underdetermined - even if their values at all earlier times are held fixed. It is the same for the values of fields. The argument can (...) also be made out in terms of transformations acting on the points of the manifold, rather than on the coordinates assigned to the points. So the equations of motion do not fix the particle positions, or the values of fields at manifold points, or particle coordinates, or fields as functions of the coordinates, even when they are specified at all earlier times. It is surely the business of physics to predict these sorts of quantities, given their values at earlier times. The principle of general covariance therefore seems untenable. (shrink)
I will discuss only one of the several entwined strands of the philosophy of space and time, the question of the relation between the nature of motion and the geometrical structure of the world.1 This topic has many of the virtues of the best philosophy of science. It is of long-standing philosophical interest and has a rich history of connections to problems of physics. It has loomed large in discussions of space and time among contemporary philosophers of science. Furthermore, there (...) is, I think, widespread agreement that recent insights here have lead to a genuine deepening of our understanding. (shrink)
We discuss the relationship between the interpretative problems of quantum gravity and those of general relativity. We argue that classical and quantum theories of gravity resuscitate venerable philosophical questions about the nature of space, time, and change; and that the resolution of some of the difficulties facing physicists working on quantum theories of gravity would appear to require philosophical as well as scientific creativity.
This collection of essays by leading philosophers of physics was first published in 2000, and offers philosophical perspectives on two of the central elements of modern physics, quantum theory and relativity. The topics examined include the notorious 'measurement problem' of quantum theory and the attempts to solve it by attributing extra values to physical quantities, the mysterious non-locality of quantum theory, the curious properties of spatial localization in relativistic quantum theories, and the problem of time in the search for a (...) theory of quantum gravity. Together the essays represent some of the last decade's research in philosophy of physics, particularly interestingly within the philosophy of quantum theory. (shrink)
In this paper I claim that Earman and Norton 's hole argument against substantivalist interpretations of General Relativity assumes that the substantivalist must adopt a conception of determinism which I argue is unsatisfactory. Butterfield and others have responded to the hole argument by finding a conception of determinism open to the substantivalist that is not prone to the hole argument. But, unfortunately for the substantivalist, I argue this conception also turns out to be unsatisfactory. Accordingly, I search for a conception (...) of determinism that is both independently plausible and capable of blocking the hole argument. (shrink)
This dissertation consists of two parts. The first is on the relation between formalism and ontological commitment in the context of theories of spacetime, and the second is on scientific realism. The first part begins with a look at how the substantivalist/relationist debate over the ontological status of spacetime has been influenced by a particular mathematical formalism, that of tensor analysis on differential manifolds . This formalism has motivated the substantivalist position known as manifold substantivalism. Chapter 1 focuses on the (...) hole argument which maintains that manifold substantivalism is incompatible with determinism. I claim that the realist motivations underlying manifold substantivalism can be upheld, and the hole argument avoided, by adopting structural realism with respect to spacetime. In this context, this is the claim that it is the structure that spacetime points enter into that warrants belief and not the points themselves. ;In Chapter 2, an elimination principle is defined by means of which a distinction can be made between surplus structure and essential structure with respect to formulations of a theory in two distinct mathematical formulations and some prior ontological commitments. This principle is then used to demonstrate that manifold points may be considered surplus structure in the formulation of field theories. This suggests that, if we are disposed to read field theories literally, then, at most, it should be the essential structure common to all alternative formulations of such theories that should be taken literally. I also investigate how the adoption of alternative formalisms informs other issues in the philosophy of spacetime. ;Chapter 3 offers a realist position which takes a semantic moral from the preceding investigation and an epistemic moral from work done on reliability. The semantic moral advises us to read only the essential structure of our theories literally. The epistemic moral shows us that such structure is robust under theory change, given an adequate reliabilist notion of epistemic warrant. I call the realist position that subscribes to these morals structural realism and attempt to demonstrate that it is immune to the semantic and epistemic versions of the underdetermination argument posed by the anti-realist. (shrink)
The hole argument contends that a substantivalist has to view General Relativity as an indeterministic theory. A recent form of substantivalist reply to the hole argument has urged the substantivalist to identify qualitatively isomorphic possible worlds. Gordon Belot has argued that this form of substantivalism is unable to capture other genuine violations of determinism. This paper argues that Belot's alleged examples of indeterminism should not be seen as a violation of a form of determinism that physicists are interested in. What (...) is undetermined in these examples, and in the hole argument, is a haecceitistic feature of the world. It is argued that these features are not among those we should expect the physical state of the world to determine. This vindicates the substantivalist reply to the hole argument, but also illustrates that philosophers of physics cannot ignore metaphysics when characterizing determinism for a physical theory. (shrink)
In this paper Modern Essentialism is used to solve a problem of individuation of spacetime points in General Relativity that has been raised by a New Leibnizian Argument against spacetime substantivalism, elaborated by Earman and Norton. An earlier essentialistic solution, proposed by Maudlin, is criticized as being against both the spirit of metrical essentialism and the fundamental principles of General Relativity. I argue for a modified essentialistic account of spacetime points that avoids those obstacles.
Substantivalists claim that spacetime enjoys an existence analogous to that of material bodies, while relationalists seek to reduce spacetime to sets of possible spatiotemporal relations. The resulting debate has been central to the philosophy of space and time since the Scientific Revolution. Recently, many philosophers of physics have turned away from the debate, claiming that it is no longer of any relevance to physics. At the same time, there has been renewed interest in the debate among physicists working on quantum (...) gravity, who claim that the conceptual problems which they face are intimately related to interpretative questions concerning general relativity . My goal is to show that the physicists are correct--there is a close relationship between the interpretative issues of classical and quantum gravity. ;In the first part of the dissertation I challenge the received view that substantivalism has a commanding advantage over relationalism on grounds internal to GR. I argue that this view is based on a misconception of the relationships between realism and substantivalism, and between empiricism and relationalism. This has led to a narrow conception of relationalism. Once this is relinquished it can be seen that none of the standard arguments in favor of substantivalism are cogent. ;In the second part of the dissertation, I consider the way in which considerations arising out of quantum gravity bear upon the substantival-relational debate. I develop a framework in which to discuss the interpretative problems of gauge theories and place GR in this context. From this perspective, I provide a taxonomy of interpretative options, and show how the hole argument arises naturally as a consequence of gauge freedom. This means that certain substantivalist interpretations of GR render the theory indeterministic. In the final chapter, I argue that, far from being a drawback, this presents an opportunity for substantivalists. Examples from quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, and quantum gravity, are used to demonstrate that the ambiguities inherent in quantization can lead to an interpretative interplay between theories. In the case of quantum gravity, this means that substantivalism and relationalism suggest, and are suggested by, distinct approaches to quantizing GR. (shrink)
My dissertation is a discussion of the ontological commitment of spacetime theories. I am concerned about whether we should be realists about spacetime. I outline a version of substantivalism that I show is attractive on general grounds in that it treats spacetime in just the same way that a realist ought to treat entities she is a realist about. I then show that this version of substantivalism is immune to the hole argument and other recent criticisms of substantivalism. I also (...) re-examine traditional arguments for substantivalism, and show that my version is at least as well supported as more traditional accounts. Finally I examine the positive case for substantivalism and find that it is far weaker than many philosophers of physics think. I offer a relationist reply to both Kant's argument from incongruent counterparts and Newton's bucket argument, and then show that a satisfactory case for substantivalism will have to wait for a solution to the more general problem of induction. (shrink)
Since the time of antiquity, philosophers and scientists have debated the independent nature of space and, more recently, of spacetime. Substantivalists, on the one hand, argue that spacetime exists independently of material objects and provides an objective framework for spatiotemporal relations. Relationists, on the other hand, deny the independent existence of spacetime and hold that spacetime is simply a system of spatiotemporal relations between objects. ;John Earman and John Norton present their criticism of substantivalism: the "hole argument." General relativity yields (...) "hole diffeomorphic" spacetime models--models that differ within a region, or "hole," of spacetime. Earman and Norton argue that a substantivalist interpretation of general relativity implies that these hole diffeomorphic models make physically different predictions, resulting in a radically indeterministic general relativity. Therefore, substantivalism must be incorrect. ;I argue that the hole argument is faulty. In order to apply general relativity to physical situations, one must specify the background structures with respect to which the spatiotemporal features can be described. This procedure selects one of the many hole diffeomorphic models, and thus resolves the problem of multiple models making conflicting predictions. I show that this argument holds for a simple postulational system, and then show it holds for general relativity. ;In addition to arguing for my own resolution of the hole argument, I present the background of the hole argument as well as an evaluation of the current debate. Chapters 1 and 2 describe the historical and technical background of the hole argument. Chapter 3 provides a detailed account of hole argument as presented by Earman and Norton. Chapter 4 presents responses to the hole argument that attempt to rescue substantivalism and that criticize the hole argument itself. Finally, Chapter 5 presents my response to the hole argument. (shrink)
The concepts in the title refer to properties of physical theories and this paper investigates their nature and relations. The first three concepts, especially gauge invariance and indeterminism, have been widely discussed in connection to spacetime theories and the hole argument. Since the gauge invariance principle is at the crux of the issue, this paper aims at clarifying the nature of gauge invariance. I first explore the following chain of relations: gauge invariance $\Rightarrow $ the conservation laws $\Rightarrow $ the (...) Cauchy problem $\Rightarrow $ indeterminism. Then I discuss gauge invariance in light of our understanding of the above relations and the possibility of spontaneous symmetry breaking. (shrink)
After some background setting in which it is shown how Maudlin's (1989, 1990) response to the hole argument of Earman and Norton (1987) is related to that of Rynasiewicz (1994), it is argued that the syntactic proposals of Mundy (1992) and of Leeds (1995), which claim to dismiss the hole argument as an uninteresting blunder, are inadequate. This leads to a discussion of how the responses of Maudlin and Rynasiewicz relate to issues about gauge freedom and relativity principles.