PhilSci Archive

Against Pointillisme about Geometry

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


Download (230kB)


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.

Export/Citation: EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
Social Networking:
Share |

Item Type: Preprint
Butterfield, Jeremy
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 15:13
Item ID: 2552
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
Specific Sciences > Mathematics
Date: December 2005

Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Monthly Downloads for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item