The general-relativistic case for super-substantivalism

Synthese 199 (5-6):13789-13822 (2021)
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Abstract

Super-substantivalism (of the type we’ll consider) roughly comprises two core tenets: (1) the physical properties which we attribute to matter (e.g. charge or mass) can be attributed to spacetime directly, with no need for matter as an extraneous carrier “on top of” spacetime; (2) spacetime is more fundamental than (ontologically prior to) matter. In the present paper, we revisit a recent argument in favour of super-substantivalism, based on General Relativity. A critique is offered that highlights the difference between (various accounts of) fundamentality and (various forms of) ontological dependence. This affords a metaphysically more perspicuous view of what super-substantivalism’s tenets actually assert, and how it may be defended. We tentatively propose a re-formulation of the original argument that not only seems to apply to all classical physics, but also chimes with a standard interpretation of spacetime theories in the philosophy of physics.

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Laws and symmetry.Bas C. van Fraassen - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Every thing must go: metaphysics naturalized.James Ladyman & Don Ross - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Don Ross, David Spurrett & John G. Collier.
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Making Things Up.Karen Bennett - 2017 - New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

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