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On the Existence of Spacetime Structure

Curiel, Erik (2015) On the Existence of Spacetime Structure. [Preprint]

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Abstract

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 so-called 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.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Curiel, Erikerik@strangebeautiful.com
Additional Information: Version to be published in British Journal of Philosophy, 2015.
Keywords: substantivalism; relationalism; spacetime structure; general relativity; realism; instrumentalism
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Mathematics
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Operationalism/Instrumentalism
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
General Issues > Structure of Theories
General Issues > Theory/Observation
Depositing User: Dr. Erik Curiel
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2015 17:42
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2015 17:42
Item ID: 11370
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Mathematics
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Operationalism/Instrumentalism
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
General Issues > Structure of Theories
General Issues > Theory/Observation
Date: 2015
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/11370

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