Building the world from its fundamental constituents

Philosophical Studies 158 (2):221-256 (2012)
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Abstract

In this paper, I argue that the spatiotemporalist approach way of modeling the fundamental constituents, structure, and composition of the world has taken a wrong turn. Spatiotemporalist approaches to fundamental structure take the fundamental nature of the world to be spatiotemporal: they take the category of spatiotemporal to be fundamental. I argue that the debates over the nature of the fundamental space in the physics show us that (i) the fact that it is conceivable that the manifest world could be exactly as it appears to us, even though spatiotemporal entities are not fundamental, means that a central premise of spatiotemporalism, that we may assume, given ordinary experience, that the world is fundamentally spatiotemporal, is false. (ii) Spatiotemporalism must be seen as a contingent, a posteriori physical truth. Finally, (iii) I argue that a metaphysically deeper conclusion follows from the debate over the nature of the fundamental space. The debate in physics over which sort of space is the fundamental space suggests that physicists have discovered that, even if a spacetime is an actual constituent of the world-space category, there is a world-space category that is more fundamental than the category of spacetime.

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L. A. Paul
Yale University

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Thinking About Spacetime.David Yates - 2021 - In Christian Wüthrich, Baptiste Le Bihan & Nick Huggett (eds.), Philosophy Beyond Spacetime. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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References found in this work

On the Plurality of Worlds.David Lewis - 1986 - Wiley-Blackwell.
Writing the Book of the World.Theodore Sider - 2011 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
A World of States of Affairs.D. M. Armstrong - 1997 - Cambridge University Press.
Philosophical Papers.David Kellogg Lewis - 1983 - Oxford University Press.

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