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AGPhil: Arbeitsgruppe Philosophie der Physik

AGPhil 4: Space, Time and Symmetry III

AGPhil 4.4: Vortrag

Mittwoch, 1. April 2020, 12:30–13:00, H-HS III

Knox's spacetime functionalism and Leibniz's modal relationismRadmila Jovanovic Kozlowski1 and •Andrej Jandric21Faculty of Philosophy,University of Belgrade, Serbia — 2Faculty of Philosophy,University of Belgrade, Serbia

In this paper we compare a new, functionalist approach to spacetime, advanced by Eleanor Knox, with Leibniz's metaphysical account, which was the most influential opposition to Newtonian substantivalism in his time. Knox's account of spacetime is inspired by Brown's dynamic approach to relativity, which is typically used as as an argument for relationism, yet she uses it to defend a view which in some aspects resembles substantivalism. Knox characterises her view as "simple realism about spacetime", "substantivalism-lite" or "substantivalism stripped off the containment metaphor". According to her, spacetime is defined via its functional role in a physical theory: to determine local inertial frames. Leibniz, on the other hand, is usually classified as a relationist, although there is an ongoing debate about what type of relationism should be ascribed to him: non-modal or modal. In non-modal relationism, space and time are simply an assemblage of relations which actually obtain between objects; in modal relationism, space and time form a geometrical network of all possible positions that objects may take, even if no object actually does. We argue that the modal interpretation of Leibniz better fits textual evidence, and that it presents a proto form of functionalism in the sense of Knox.

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