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Karim Thebault (Bristol) “Regarding the ‘Hole Argument’ and the ‘Problem of Time'”

9 November 2015, 5:15 am6:45 pm

Abstract: The canonical formalism of general relativity affords a particularly interesting characterisation of the infamous hole argument. It also provides a natural formalism in which to relate the hole argument to the problem of time in classical and quantum gravity. In this paper I will examine the connection between these two much discussed problems in the foundations of spacetime theory along two interrelated lines. First, from a formal perspective, I will consider the extent to which the two problems can and cannot be precisely and distinctly characterised. Second, from a philosophical perspective, I will consider the implications of various responses to the problems, with a particular focus upon the viability of a ‘deflationary’ attitude to the relationalist/substantivalist debate regarding the ontology of space-time. Conceptual and formal inadequacies within the representative language of canonical gravity will be shown to be at the heart of both the canonical hole argument and the problem of time. Interesting and fruitful work at the interface of physics and philosophy relates to the challenge of resolving such inadequacies.


9 November 2015
5:15 am – 6:45 pm
Event Category:


Bryan W. Roberts


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Lakatos Building
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