Trevor Teitel
University of Toronto, St. George Campus
Background independence begins life as an informal property that a physical theory might have, often glossed as 'doesn't posit a fixed spacetime background'. Interest in trying to offer a precise account of background independence has been sparked by the pronouncements of several theorists working on quantum gravity that background independence embodies in some sense an essential discovery of the General Theory of Relativity, and a feature we should strive to carry forward to future physical theories. This paper has two goals. The first is to investigate what a world must be like in order to be truly described by a background independent theory given extant accounts of background independence. The second is to argue that there are no non-empirical reasons to be more confident in theories that satisfy extant accounts of background independence than in theories that don't. The paper concludes by drawing a general moral about a way in which focussing primarily on mathematical formulations of our physical theories can adversely affect debates in the metaphysics of physics.
Keywords Background Independence  Diffeomorphism Invariance  General Covariance  Spacetime  Modality  Haecceitism  Relationism
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Reprint years 2019
DOI 10.1016/j.shpsb.2018.10.001
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References found in this work BETA

Writing the Book of the World.Theodore Sider - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
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Citations of this work BETA

Holes in Spacetime: Some Neglected Essentials.Trevor Teitel - 2019 - Journal of Philosophy 116 (7):353-389.

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