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Against Pointillisme about Geometry

Butterfield, Jeremy (2005) Against Pointillisme about Geometry. [Preprint]

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    Abstract

    This paper forms part of a wider campaign: to deny pointillisme. That is the doctrine that a physical theory's fundamental quantities are defined at points of space or of spacetime, and represent intrinsic properties of such points or point-sized objects located there; so that properties of spatial or spatiotemporal regions and their material contents are determined by the point-by-point facts. More specifically, this paper argues against pointillisme about the structure of space and-or spacetime itself, especially a paper by Bricker (1993). A companion paper argues against pointillisme in mechanics, especially about velocity; it focusses on Tooley, Robinson and Lewis. To avoid technicalities, I conduct the argument almost entirely in the context of ``Newtonian'' ideas about space and time. But both the debate and my arguments carry over to relativistic, and even quantum, physics.


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    Item Type: Preprint
    Additional Information: A shorter version is forthcoming in Proceedings of the 28th Ludwig Wittgenstein Symposium, ed. F. Stadler and M. Stoeltzner.
    Keywords: Intrinsic properties, extrinsic properties, geometry, Humean supervenience, spacetime points, Bricker.
    Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
    Specific Sciences > Mathematics
    Depositing User: Jeremy Butterfield
    Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2005
    Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 11:13
    Item ID: 2552
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/2552

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