On the Ontology of Spacetime: Substantivalism, Relationism, Eternalism, and Emergence

Foundations of Science 22 (1):141-159 (2017)


I present a discussion of some issues in the ontology of spacetime. After a characterisation of the controversies among relationists, substantivalists, eternalists, and presentists, I offer a new argument for rejecting presentism, the doctrine that only present objects exist. Then, I outline and defend a form of spacetime realism that I call event substantivalism. I propose an ontological theory for the emergence of spacetime from more basic entities. Finally, I argue that a relational theory of pre-geometric entities can give rise to substantival spacetime in such a way that relationism and substantivalism are not necessarily opposed positions, but rather complementary. In an appendix I give axiomatic formulations of my ontological views.


Added to PP

236 (#48,905)

6 months
35 (#25,218)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Similar books and articles

Substantivalism, Relationism, and Structural Spacetime Realism.Mauro Dorato - 2000 - Foundations of Physics 30 (10):1605-1628.
Spacetime, Ontology, and Structural Realism.Edward Slowik - 2005 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 19 (2):147 – 166.
The Hole Argument.John D. Norton - 1988 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1988:56 - 64.
What Price Spacetime Substantivalism? The Hole Story.John Earman & John Norton - 1987 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 38 (4):515-525.
The Case for Substantivalism.Carolyn Jane Brighouse - 1996 - Dissertation, University of Southern California
Spacetime as a Fundamental and Inalienable Structure of Fields.Y. S. - 2001 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 32 (2):205-215.
Spacetime the One Substance.Jonathan Schaffer - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 145 (1):131 - 148.

Author's Profile

Gustavo Esteban Romero
Universidad Nacional de La Plata

References found in this work

Scientific Thought.C. D. Broad - 1923 - Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Quantum Gravity.Carlo Rovelli - 2007 - Cambridge University Press.
Time and Physical Geometry.Hilary Putnam - 1967 - Journal of Philosophy 64 (8):240-247.

View all 61 references / Add more references

Citations of this work

Gravitational Waves and Spacetime.Mario Bunge - 2018 - Foundations of Science 23 (2):399-403.
A Formal Apology for Metaphysics.Samuel Baron - 2018 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations