SOPhiA 2019

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

The Hole Argument and the Nature of Spacetime
(Philosophy of Science , English)

This talk concerns the hole argument that stems from the general theory of relativity (GTR). It was first proposed by Einstein and reformulated by Earman and Norton (1987). The argument targets substantivalism about the nature of spacetime points, which is the view that spacetime is a genuine entity.

I will first introduce the traditional debate between spacetime substantivalism and relationalism from Leibniz's objections to Newtonian absolute space, and then compare it with the debate in the context of the GTR and discuss how the hole argument sheds light upon this debate. I will argue that indeterminism should not be the focus of this argument, and illustrate how metric field substantivalism as described in Hoefer (1996) can offer a solution. I will specifically defend this view against charges of incoherence and adhocness.

While the first part is primarily based on metaphysical considerations, the second part regards the hole argument as a case study for the question to what extent science is a guide to metaphysics, specifically, the question how we should incorporate scientific advances to the traditional metaphysical debates. I will survey optimists_ and pessimists_ views, and use the challenge of the special theory of relativity to presentism discussed by Hawley (2006) to illustrate.

Time: 17:40-18:10, 18 September 2019 (Wednesday)
Location: SR 1.005

Yixuan Wu 
(Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy, Germany)

I am a master student in logic and philosophy of science at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP). I obtained a BSc degree in mathematics and philosophy from University of St Andrews in 2018. My main areas of interest are philosophy of physics, philosophy of science and metaphysics. Before going to St Andrews, I lived in Beijing.

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