We discuss from a philosophical perspective the way in which the normal concept of time might be said to `emerge' in a quantum theory of gravity. After an introduction, we briefly discuss the notion of emergence, without regard to time. We then introduce the search for a quantum theory of gravity ; and review some general interpretative issues about space, time and matter. We then discuss the emergence of time in simple quantum geometrodynamics, and in the Euclidean approach. Section 6 (...) concludes. (shrink)
We survey some philosophical aspects of the search for a quantum theory of gravity, emphasising how quantum gravity throws into doubt the treatment of spacetime common to the two `ingredient theories' (quantum theory and general relativity), as a 4-dimensional manifold equipped with a Lorentzian metric. After an introduction (Section 1), we briefly review the conceptual problems of the ingredient theories (Section 2) and introduce the enterprise of quantum gravity (Section 3). We then describe how three main research programmes in quantum (...) gravity treat four topics of particular importance: the scope of standard quantum theory; the nature of spacetime; spacetime diffeomorphisms, and the so-called `problem of time' (Section 4). These programmes are the old particle-physics approach, superstring theory, and canonical quantum gravity. By and large, these programmes accept most of the ingredient theories' treatment of spacetime, albeit with a metric with some type of quantum nature; but they also suggest that the treatment has fundamental limitations. This prompts the idea of going further: either by quantizing structures other than the metric, such as the topology; or by regarding such structures as phenomenological. We discuss this in Section 5. (shrink)
Any attempt to construct a realist interpretation of quantum theory founders on the Kochen-Specker theorem, which asserts the impossibility of assigning values to quantum quantities in a way that preserves functional relations between them. We construct a new type of valuation which is defined on all operators, and which respects an appropriate version of the functional composition principle. The truth-values assigned to propositions are (i) contextual; and (ii) multi-valued, where the space of contexts and the multi-valued logic for each context (...) come naturally from the topos theory of presheaves. The first step in our theory is to demonstrate that the Kochen-Specker theorem is equivalent to the statement that a certain presheaf defined on the category of self-adjoint operators has no global elements. We then show how the use of ideas drawn from the theory of presheaves leads to the definition of a generalised valuation in quantum theory whose values are sieves of operators. In particular, we show how each quantum state leads to such a generalised valuation. A key ingredient throughout is the idea that, in a situation where no normal truth-value can be given to a proposition asserting that the value of a physical quantity A lies in a set D of real numbers , it is nevertheless possible to ascribe a partial truth-value which is determined by the set of all coarse-grained propositions that assert that some function f(A) lies in f(D), and that are true in a normal sense. The set of all such coarse-grainings forms a sieve on the category of self-adjoint operators, and is hence fundamentally related to the theory of presheave. (shrink)
In a previous paper, we have proposed assigning as the value of a physical quantity in quantum theory, a certain kind of set (a sieve) of quantities that are functions of the given quantity. The motivation was in part physical---such a valuation illuminates the Kochen-Specker theorem; and in part mathematical---the valuation arises naturally in the topos theory of presheaves. This paper discusses the conceptual aspects of this proposal. We also undertake two other tasks. First, we explain how the proposed valuations (...) could arise much more generally than just in quantum physics; in particular, they arise as naturally in classical physics. Second, we give another motivation for such valuations (that applies equally to classical and quantum physics). This arises from applying to propositions about the values of physical quantities some general axioms governing partial truth for any kind of proposition. (shrink)
We extend the topos-theoretic treatment given in previous papers of assigning values to quantities in quantum theory, and of related issues such as the Kochen-Specker theorem. This extension has two main parts: the use of von Neumann algebras as a base category (Section 2); and the relation of our generalized valuations to (i) the assignment to quantities of intervals of real numbers, and (ii) the idea of a subobject of the coarse-graining presheaf (Section 3).
We extend the topos-theoretic treatment given in previous papers of assigning values to quantities in quantum theory. In those papers, the main idea was to assign a sieve as a partial and contextual truth-value to a proposition that the value of a quantity lies in a certain set D of real numbers. Here we relate such sieve-valued valuations to valuations that assign to quantities subsets, rather than single elements, of their spectrum (we call these interval valuations). There are two main (...) results. First, there is a natural correspondence between these two kinds of valuation, which uses the notion of a state's support for a quantity (Section 3). Second, if one starts with a more general notion of interval valuation, one sees that our interval valuations based on the notion of support (and correspondingly, our sieve-valued valuations) are a simple way to secure certain natural properties of valuations, such as monotonicity (Section 4). (shrink)