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On the Existence of Spacetime Structure

Curiel, Erik (2016) On the Existence of Spacetime Structure. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.

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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 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: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Curiel, Erikerik@strangebeautiful.com
Additional Information: Submitted to *British Journal for Philosophy of Science*
Keywords: substantivalism; relationalism; spacetime structure; general relativity; realism; instrumentalism
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
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: 06 Sep 2016 13:19
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2016 13:19
Item ID: 12406
Journal or Publication Title: The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Official URL: http://bjps.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/...
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axw014
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
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: August 2016
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/12406

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