How to Be a Substantivalist Without Getting Shifty About It

Philosophical Issues 27 (1):223-249 (2017)
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Abstract

According to substantivalism, spacetime points and regions are real entities whose existence is not dependent on matter. In this paper, I motivate and defend a version of substantivalism which takes the totality of spacetime as fundamental, and show how this position avoids certain problem cases, in particular the objection from static Leibniz shifts, and better conforms to how we think about space in physics. I argue that, even though the static Leibniz shifts do not show ordinary substantivalism is committed to in-principle undetectable physical structure ), they do indicate something problematic about the modal profile of space-time and its constituents. While the problem is modal, the solution cannot be solely a matter of revising the substantivalist's modal claims. Rather, I argue, the substantivalist must revise her background ontology of space-time. I show how this can be done by developing substantivalist theory that rejects this picture in favor of an alternative ontology of space-time in the spirit of priority monism.

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Zee R. Perry
New York University, Shanghai

Citations of this work

The World Just Is the Way It Is.David Builes - 2021 - The Monist 104 (1):1-27.
Modal Idealism.David Builes - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Mind.

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References found in this work

Monism: The Priority of the Whole.Jonathan Schaffer - 2010 - Philosophical Review 119 (1):31-76.
Spacetime the one substance.Jonathan Schaffer - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 145 (1):131 - 148.
What price spacetime substantivalism? The hole story.John Earman & John Norton - 1987 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 38 (4):515-525.

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