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Who's Afraid of Background Independence?

Rickles, Dean (2008) Who's Afraid of Background Independence? [Preprint]


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Background independence is generally considered to be ‘the mark of distinction’ of general relativity. However, there is still confusion over exactly what background independence is and how, if at all, it serves to distinguish general relativity from other theories. There is also some confusion over the philosophical implications of background independence, stemming in part from the definitional problems. In this paper I attempt to make some headway on both issues. In each case I argue that a proper account of the observables of such theories goes a long way in clarifying matters. Further, I argue, against common claims to the contrary, that the fact that these observables are relational has no bearing on the debate between substantivalists and relationalists, though I do think it recommends a structuralist ontology, as I shall endeavour to explain.

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Item Type: Preprint
Rickles, Dean
Additional Information: Later published version in D. Dieks (ed.), The Ontology of Spacetime II (pp. 133-152). Elsevier, 2008.
Keywords: Background Independence, Hole Argument, Relativity, Quantum Gravity
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Field Theory
Depositing User: Dean Rickles Dean Rickles
Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2008
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 15:17
Item ID: 4223

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