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Antonio Vassallo
Warsaw University of Technology
  1. Dependence relations in general relativity.Antonio Vassallo - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (1):1-28.
    The paper discusses from a metaphysical standpoint the nature of the dependence relation underpinning the talk of mutual action between material and spatiotemporal structures in general relativity. It is shown that the standard analyses of dependence in terms of causation or grounding are ill-suited for the general relativistic context. Instead, a non-standard analytical framework in terms of structural equation modeling is exploited, which leads to the conclusion that the kind of dependence encoded in the Einstein field equations is a novel (...)
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  2. Leibnizian Relationalism for General Relativistic Physics.Antonio Vassallo & Michael Esfeld - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics:101-107.
    An ontology of Leibnizian relationalism, consisting in distance relations among sparse matter points and their change only, is well recognized as a serious option in the context of classical mechanics. In this paper, we investigate how this ontology fares when it comes to general relativistic physics. Using a Humean strategy, we regard the gravitational field as a means to represent the overall change in the distance relations among point particles in a way that achieves the best combination of being simple (...)
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  3. Relationalism About Mechanics Based on a Minimalist Ontology of Matter.Antonio Vassallo, Dirk-André Deckert & Michael Esfeld - 2016 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science:1-20.
    This paper elaborates on relationalism about space and time as motivated by a minimalist ontology of the physical world: there are only matter points that are individuated by the distance relations among them, with these relations changing. We assess two strategies to combine this ontology with physics, using classical mechanics as example: the Humean strategy adopts the standard, non-relationalist physical theories as they stand and interprets their formal apparatus as the means of bookkeeping of the change of the distance relations (...)
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  4. A Proposal for a Bohmian Ontology of Quantum Gravity.Antonio Vassallo & Michael Esfeld - 2013 - Foundations of Physics (1):1-18.
    The paper shows how the Bohmian approach to quantum physics can be applied to develop a clear and coherent ontology of non-perturbative quantum gravity. We suggest retaining discrete objects as the primitive ontology also when it comes to a quantum theory of space-time and therefore focus on loop quantum gravity. We conceive atoms of space, represented in terms of nodes linked by edges in a graph, as the primitive ontology of the theory and show how a non-local law in which (...)
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  5.  84
    On the Importance of Interpretation in Quantum Physics: A Reply to Elise Crull.Antonio Vassallo & Michael Esfeld - 2015 - Foundations of Physics 45 (12):1533-1536.
    Elise Crull claims that by invoking decoherence it is possible to obviate many “fine grained” issues often conflated under the common designation of measurement problem, and to make substantial progresses in the fields of quantum gravity and quantum cosmology, without any early incorporation of a particular interpretation in the quantum formalism. We point out that Crull is mistaken about decoherence and tacitly assumes some kind of interpretation of the quantum formalism.
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  6. How Humean is Bohumianism?Tomasz Bigaj & Antonio Vassallo - 2020 - Foundations of Physics (10):1-18.
    An important part of the influential Humean doctrine in philosophy is the supervenience principle (sometimes referred to as the principle of separability). This principle asserts that the complete state of the world supervenes on the intrinsic properties of its most fundamental components and their spatiotemporal relations (the so-called Humean mosaic). There are well-known arguments in the literature purporting to show that in quantum mechanics the Humean supervenience principle is violated, due to the existence of entangled states. Recently, however, arguments have (...)
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  7.  64
    On the Conceptual Issues Surrounding the Notion of Relational Bohmian Dynamics.Antonio Vassallo & Pui Him Ip - 2016 - Foundations of Physics 46 (8):943-972.
    The paper presents a program to construct a non-relativistic relational Bohmian theory, that is, a theory of N moving point-like particles that dispenses with space and time as fundamental background structures. The relational program proposed is based on the best-matching framework originally developed by Julian Barbour. In particular, the paper focuses on the conceptual problems that arise when trying to implement such a program. It is argued that pursuing a relational strategy in the Bohmian context leads to a more parsimonious (...)
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  8.  76
    Can Bohmian Mechanics Be Made Background Independent?Antonio Vassallo - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 52 (Part B):242-250.
    The paper presents an inquiry into the question regarding the compatibility of Bohmian mechanics, intended as a non-local theory of moving point-like particles, with background independence. This issue is worth being investigated because, if the Bohmian framework has to be of some help in developing new physics, it has to be compatible with the most well-established traits of modern physics, background independence being one of such traits. The paper highlights the fact that the notion of background independence in the context (...)
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  9.  79
    The Physics and Metaphysics of Pure Shape Dynamics.Antonio Vassallo, Pedro Naranjo & Tim Koslowski - 2022 - In The Foundations of Spacetime Physics: Philosophical Perspectives. Routledge.
    The goal of this essay is twofold. First, it provides a quick look at the foundations of modern relational mechanics by tracing its development from Julian Barbour and Bruno Bertotti's original ideas until present-day's pure shape dynamics. Secondly, it discusses the most appropriate metaphysics for pure shape dynamics, showing that relationalism is more of a nuanced thesis rather than an elusive one. The chapter ends with a brief assessment of the prospects of pure shape dynamics in light of quantum physics.
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  10. The Metaphysics of Machian Frame-Dragging.Antonio Vassallo & Carl Hoefer - 2019 - In Claus Beisbart, Tilman Sauer & Christian Wüthrich (eds.), Thinking About Space and Time. Basel: Birkhäuser.
    The paper investigates the kind of dependence relation that best portrays Machian frame-dragging in general relativity. The question is tricky because frame-dragging relates local inertial frames to distant distributions of matter in a time-independent way, thus establishing some sort of non-local link between the two. For this reason, a plain causal interpretation of frame-dragging faces huge challenges. The paper will shed light on the issue by using a generalized structural equation model analysis in terms of manipulationist counterfactuals recently applied in (...)
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  11. The Metaphysics of Decoherence.Antonio Vassallo & Davide Romano - 2021 - Erkenntnis:1-23.
    The paper investigates the type of realism that best suits the framework of decoherence taken at face value without postulating a plurality of worlds, or additional hidden variables, or non-unitary dynamical mechanisms. It is argued that this reading of decoherence leads to an extremely radical type of perspectival realism, especially when cosmological decoherence is considered.
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  12.  14
    A Proposal for a Metaphysics of Self-Subsisting Structures. I. Classical Physics.Antonio Vassallo, Pedro Naranjo & Tim Koslowski - 2022 - Synthese 200 (5):1-32.
    We present a new metaphysical framework for physics that is conceptually clear, ontologically parsimonious, and empirically adequate. This framework relies on the notion of self-subsisting structure, that is, a set of fundamental physical elements whose individuation and behavior are described in purely relational terms, without any need for a background spacetime. Although the specification of the fundamental elements of the ontology depends on the particular physical domain considered---and is thus susceptible to scientific progress---, the empirically successful structural features of the (...)
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  13.  47
    A Metaphysical Reflection on the Notion of Background in Modern Spacetime Physics.Antonio Vassallo - 2016 - In L. Felline, F. Paoli, E. Rossanese & A. Ledda (eds.), New Developments in Logic and Philosophy of Science. College Publications. pp. 349-365.
    The paper presents a metaphysical characterization of spatiotemporal backgrounds from a realist perspective. The conceptual analysis is based on a heuristic sketch that encompasses the common formal traits of the major spacetime theories, such as Newtonian mechanics and general relativity. It is shown how this framework can be interpreted in a fully realist fashion, and what is the role of background structures in such a picture. In the end it is argued that, although backgrounds are a source of metaphysical discomfort, (...)
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  14. Does General Relativity Highlight Necessary Connections in Nature?Antonio Vassallo - 2021 - Synthese 199 (1-2):1-23.
    The dynamics of general relativity is encoded in a set of ten differential equations, the so-called Einstein field equations. It is usually believed that Einstein's equations represent a physical law describing the coupling of spacetime with material fields. However, just six of these equations actually describe the coupling mechanism: the remaining four represent a set of differential relations known as Bianchi identities. The paper discusses the physical role that the Bianchi identities play in general relativity, and investigates whether these identities (...)
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  15.  13
    Quantum foundations in a nutshell: Emily Adlam: Foundations of quantum mechanics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021, 84pp, £ 15.00 PB.Albert Solé & Antonio Vassallo - 2022 - Metascience 31 (1):17-20.
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  16.  52
    From Quantum Gravity to Classical Phenomena.Michael Esfeld & Antonio Vassallo - 2013 - In Tilman Sauer & Adrian Wüthrich (eds.), New Vistas on Old Problems. Max Planck Research Library for the History and Development of Knowledge.
    Quantum gravity is supposed to be the most fundamental theory, including a quantum theory of the metrical field (spacetime). However, it is not clear how a quantum theory of gravity could account for classical phenomena, including notably measurement outcomes. But all the evidence that we have for a physical theory is based on measurement outcomes. We consider this problem in the framework of canonical quantum gravity, pointing out a dilemma: all the available accounts that admit classical phenomena presuppose entities with (...)
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  17.  33
    Review of "Philosophy of Physics: Quantum Theory" by T. Maudlin (Princeton University Press, 2019). [REVIEW]Antonio Vassallo - 2019 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
  18.  78
    General Covariance, Diffeomorphism Invariance, and Background Independence in 5 Dimensions.Antonio Vassallo - 2014 - In Tomasz Bigaj & Christian Wüthrich (eds.), Metaphysics in Contemporary Physics. Rodopi.
    The paper considers the "GR-desideratum", that is, the way general relativity implements general covariance, diffeomorphism invariance, and background independence. Two cases are discussed where 5-dimensional generalizations of general relativity run into interpretational troubles when the GR-desideratum is forced upon them. It is shown how the conceptual problems dissolve when such a desideratum is relaxed. In the end, it is suggested that a similar strategy might mitigate some major issues such as the problem of time or the embedding of quantum non-locality (...)
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  19.  11
    The Foundations of Spacetime Physics: Philosophical Perspectives.Antonio Vassallo (ed.) - 2022 - Routledge.
    This book provides an up-to-date overview of the foundations of spacetime physics. It features original essays written by world-class experts in the physics and philosophy of spacetime. The foundational questions regarding the origin and nature of spacetime are branching into new and exciting directions. These questions are not restricted to the quantum gravity program but also arise in the context of a well-established theory like general relativity. Against the background of these quick and diverse developments, this volume features a broad (...)
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