SOPhiA 2017

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Is there a Field-Theoretic Argument for spacetime structuralism?
(Philosophy of Science, English)

The debate on the ontological status of spacetime between substantivalism and relationism seem to have reached a stalemate when adherents of both views had to refer to the same element - g - of the general form of a spacetime model (in standard tensor analysis): & (where M is a set of points with specific topological and differantiable structures; g is the metric tensor, which can be taken as representing the gravitational field; T is the stress-energy-momentum tensor - this tensor can vanish, so it can be omitted in general, conceptual issues).

_The famous hole argument (while not being a decisive argument at all in the debate!) pointed out that there is no unproblematic way to distinguish a bare general relativistic spacetime from what is contained in it, rendering the classical < i>container -- contained dychotomy unworkable. In effect, relationists cannot repudiate M while retaining only g. And substantivalists have to refer to a purely material entity -- a field -- in order to make sense of their account; they have to use a strategy classicaly completely alien to substantivalistic views. This leads to an impetus. One of the proposed solutions is to conceive a middle way: spacetime structuralism.

_In my presentation I would like, firstly, to present the state of current spacetime structuralisms and claim that certain positions have shortcomings because of the lack of a good field-theoretic argument to support them. I will also argue why such an argument is needed. Secondly, I will show difficulties with formulating a field-theoretic argument for spacetime structuralism by discussing different symmetries in spacetime physics. I will focus mainly on the problem of structural individuation of spacetime points. Finally, I will propose a sketch of a needed argument, where I refer to the curvature itself while preserving standard (non-controversial) methods of describing coordinate charts in the context of general relativity.

Chair: Iulian Toader
Time: 10:00-10:30, 15 September 2017 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.006

Damian Luty 
(Adam Mickiewicz University, Polska)

Damian Luty (1989) is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Philosophy at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. He received his Master's degree in philosophy in 2013, thesis title: ''The relations between cosmological models and ontological commitments of physical theories''. Currently he is in the fourth year of his Ph.D. His scientific interests are: philosophy of physics, ontology, philosophy of science, methodology. He is working on a dissertation under the title ''Structural ontologies of spacetime'', where he analyses different structural approaches to spacetime in General Relativity and defends a highly modified version of a moderate ontic structural realism towards spacetime.

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