Seminar Series in Analytic Philosophy

Christian Wuthrich

University of Geneva

Does Spacetime Functionalism Have to be Universal?

(based on joint work with Vincent Lam)


7 June 2019, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: In past work, Lam and I have defended spacetime functionalism as a response to the problem of the emergence of spacetime in quantum theories of gravity. But can spacetime functionalism be such a local response to a specific problem in one class of physical theories? One might think not, at least not if held jointly with a sufficiently strong version of scientific realism: if we accept that quantum gravity implies that spacetime is at best emergent, then we should have been antirealists about it all along, i.e., already in earlier theories such as general relativity. A “pessimistic metainduction” thus appears to force the joint commitment to scientific realism and to spacetime functionalism to render the latter a universal template, rather than a local solution to a specific problem. In my talk, I will resist this universalism, and argue that a local spacetime functionalism is compatible with an appropriate form of scientific realism.