SOPhiA 2013

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programm - Vortrag

Priority Monism and Time
(Metaphysik & Ontologie, Englisch)

Jonathan Schaffer argues for the necessary truth of Priority Monism (PM): the view that there is one basic fundamental concrete object - the universe (the maximal concrete whole), that the universe has proper parts, and that the universe whole is prior to its parts. (Schaffer, 2010) He defends the view by claiming that the view is supported by our best scientific theories (argument from emergence, argument from metaphysical possibility), and by defraying the worry that monism cannot explain the heterogeneous nature of the universe (objection from heterogeneity).

In my paper, I critically assess Schaffer's arguments and assumptions. In particular, I formulate temporal analogues to the extant objection from heterogeneity; viz. how can it be meaningful to say the universe's temporal parts is derivative of the temporal whole (the entire trajectory of the universe's lifespan)? What must the metaphysics be like for the truthmaker of propositions to be partially ''located'' in the future? I argue that the priority monist has sufficient resources to answer these temporal variants of objections from heterogeneity.

However, I raise a much more serious worry that, if sound, undermines PM's scientific basis, its assumption of classical mereology, and the legitimacy of its appeal to metaphysical possibility. The basis of these objections derives from the consideration that classical continuous spacetime may be emergent at some kind of limit. Numerous approaches to a quantum theory of gravity posit that fundamental ontology will exclude spacetime, either partially or wholly. (Huggett and Wüthrich, forthcoming) If spacetime is emergent, then, PM (i) loses its claim as a theory about the fundamental structure of the world, and (ii) the assumption of classical mereology that constitutes the core of PM is ineffectual.

References:
Huggett, N. and C. Wüthrich (forthcoming). ''Emergent spacetime and empirical (in)coherence'', Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics.
Schaffer, J (2010). ''Monism: the priority of the whole'', Philosophical Review 119, 31-76.

Chair: Luca Gili
Zeit: 14:00-14:30, 13. September 2013 (Freitag)
Ort: HS 101
Anmerkung: ÄNDERUNG. Der Vortrag entfällt!

Ben Hsien-pin Liao
(University of St. Andrews, United Kingdom)

Ben Liao (BA). University of St Andrews. 2012 B.A. in philosophy at McGill University; 2013 MLitt in philosophy at University of St. Andrews (in progress); thesis about conceptual and metaphysical questions over laws of nature, determinism, and chance (in progress).

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