Dissertation, University of Sydney (2014)

Authors
Karen Crowther
University of Oslo
Abstract
Quantum gravity is understood as a theory that, in some sense, unifies general relativity (GR) and quantum theory, and is supposed to replace GR at extremely small distances (high-energies). It may be that quantum gravity represents the breakdown of spacetime geometry described by GR. The relationship between quantum gravity and spacetime has been deemed ``emergence'', and the aim of this thesis is to investigate and explicate this relation. After finding traditional philosophical accounts of emergence to be inappropriate, I develop a new conception of emergence by considering physical case studies including condensed matter physics, hydrodynamics, critical phenomena and quantum field theory understood as effective field theory. This new conception of emergence is unconcerned with the ideas of reduction and derivation (i.e. it holds that we may have emergence with reduction or without it). Instead, a low-energy theory (or model) is understood as emergent from a high-energy theory if it is novel and autonomous compared to the high-energy theory, and the low-energy physics is dependent in a particular, minimal sense on the high-energy physics (this dependence is revealed by the techniques of effective field theory and the renormalisation group). While novelty is construed in a broad sense, the autonomy comes essentially from the underdetermination of the high-energy theory by the low-energy theory, which reflects the minimal way in which the emergent, low-energy theory depends on the high-energy one. It results from the scaling behaviour of the theories and the limiting relations between them, and is demonstrated by the renormalisation group and effective field theory techniques, the idea of universality, and the phenomenon of symmetry-breaking. These ideas are important in exploring the relationship between quantum gravity and GR, where GR is understood as an effective, low-energy theory of quantum gravity. Without experimental data or a theory of quantum gravity, we rely on principles and techniques from other areas of physics to guide the way. As well as considering the idea of emergence appropriate to treating GR as an effective field theory, I investigate the emergence of spacetime (and other aspects of GR) in several concrete approaches to quantum gravity, including examples of the condensed matter approaches, the ``discrete approaches'' (causal set theory, causal dynamical triangulations, quantum causal histories and quantum graphity) and loop quantum gravity.
Keywords Emergence  Spacetime  Quantum Gravity
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References found in this work BETA

The Structure of Science.Ernest Nagel - 1961 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 17 (2):275-275.
Special Sciences.Jerry A. Fodor - 1974 - Synthese 28 (2):97-115.

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Citations of this work BETA

From Quantum Entanglement to Spatiotemporal Distance.Alyssa Ney - forthcoming - In Christian Wüthrich, Baptiste Le Bihan & Nick Huggett (eds.), Philosophy Beyond Spacetime. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Quantum Gravity.Steven Weinstein - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Analytic Idealism: A Consciousness-Only Ontology.Bernardo Kastrup - 2019 - Dissertation, Radboud University Nijmegen

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