The Hole Argument Against Everything

Foundations of Physics 50 (4):360-378 (2020)
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Abstract

The Hole Argument was originally formulated by Einstein and it haunted him as he struggled to understand the meaning of spacetime coordinates in the context of the diffeomorphism invariance of general relativity. This argument has since been put to philosophical use by Earman and Norton to argue against a substantival conception of spacetime. In the present work I demonstrate how Earman and Norton’s Hole Argument can be extended to exclude everything and not merely substantival manifolds. These casualties of the hole demonstrate that the Hole Argument hinges essentially on our notion of determinism and not on the diffeomorphic freedom of general relativity. Just as Earman and Norton argue that we should not let our metaphysics run roughshod over the structure of our physical theories, so I will argue that, in particular, we should not uncritically allow our metaphysics to dictate what our physical theories must determine. The central conviction which drives the arguments of this paper is that deterministic theories are not required to determine for future moments what they cannot determine for any present or past moments. I provide two arguments to the effect that a physically informed notion of determinism does not require general relativity to determine substantival facts. Consequently the Hole Argument cannot be used against substantival spacetime. The position that I advocate is an instance of “sophisticated determinism.”

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Joshua Norton
University of California, Irvine

Citations of this work

Loop Quantum Ontology: Spacetime and Spin-Networks.Joshua Norton - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 71:14-25.
New Perspectives on the Hole Argument.Bryan W. Roberts & James Owen Weatherall - 2020 - Foundations of Physics 50 (4):217-227.

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References found in this work

New Work for a Theory of Universals.David K. Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
New Work For a Theory of Universals.David Lewis - 1983 - In D. H. Mellor & Alex Oliver (eds.), Properties. Oxford University Press.
What Price Spacetime Substantivalism? The Hole Story.John Earman & John Norton - 1987 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 38 (4):515-525.
Regarding the ‘Hole Argument’.James Owen Weatherall - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (2):329-350.
Regarding the ‘Hole Argument’.James Owen Weatherall - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axw012.

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