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A Metaphysical Reflection on the Notion of Background in Modern Spacetime Physics

Vassallo, Antonio (2016) A Metaphysical Reflection on the Notion of Background in Modern Spacetime Physics. [Preprint]

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Abstract

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, still they make a spacetime theory easy to interpret. It is also suggested that this conclusion partially explains why the notion of background independence carries a lot of conceptual difficulties.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Vassallo, Antonioantonio.vassallo@unil.ch
Additional Information: Accepted for publication in L. Felline, F. Paoli, E. Rossanese (eds.) - New Developments in Logic and Philosophy of Science. College Publications.
Keywords: Background structure; spacetime theory; nomic necessity; dynamical sameness; principle of reciprocity; substantive general covariance; background independence.
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Depositing User: Antonio Vassallo
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2016 04:00
Last Modified: 20 Feb 2016 04:00
Item ID: 11918
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Date: 2016
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/11918

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