The Ontology of Spacetime

The Ontology of Spacetime

1st Edition - July 10, 2006

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  • Editor: Dennis Dieks
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080461885
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780444527684

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This book contains selected papers from the First International Conference on the Ontology of Spacetime. Its fourteen chapters address two main questions: first, what is the current status of the substantivalism/relationalism debate, and second, what about the prospects of presentism and becoming within present-day physics and its philosophy? The overall tenor of the four chapters of the book’s first part is that the prospects of spacetime substantivalism are bleak, although different possible positions remain with respect to the ontological status of spacetime. Part II and Part III of the book are devoted to presentism, eternalism, and becoming, from two different perspectives. In the six chapters of Part II it is argued, in different ways, that relativity theory does not have essential consequences for these issues. It certainly is true that the structure of time is different, according to relativity theory, from the one in classical theory. But that does not mean that a decision is forced between presentism and eternalism, or that becoming has proved to be an impossible concept. It may even be asked whether presentism and eternalism really offer different ontological perspectives at all. The writers of the last four chapters, in Part III, disagree. They argue that relativity theory is incompatible with becoming and presentism. Several of them come up with proposals to go beyond relativity, in order to restore the prospects of presentism.

Key Features

· Space and time in present-day physics and philosophy
· Introduction from scratch of the debates surrounding time
· Broad spectrum of approaches, coherently represented


Philosophers of physics, Physicists and Mathematicians interested in foundations and philosophy, Historians and Philosophers of science, Students and everyone interested in space and time from a modern perspective.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction (D. Dieks)
    1. The Implications of General Covariance for the Ontology and Ideology of Spacetime (J. Earman)
    2. The Disappearance of Space and Time (C. Rovelli)
    3. Spacetime Structuralism (J. Bain)
    4. Minkowski Space-Time: A Glorious Non-Entity (H.R. Brown and O. Pooley)
    5. The Irrelavance of the Presentist/Eternalist Debate for the Ontology of Minkowski Spacetime (M. Dorato)
    6. Presentism and Eternalism in Perspective (S.F. Savitt)
    7. Minkowski Spacetime and the Dimensions of the Present (R.T.W. Arthur)
    8. Becoming, Relativity and Locality (D. Dieks)
    9. Relativity Theory and the Tenseless/Tensed Debate (Y. Dolev)
    10. Philosophical Consequences of the Twins Paradox (S. McCall)
    11. Is There an Alternative to the Block Universe View? (V. Petkov)
    12. Special Relativity, Time, Probabilism, and Ultimate Reality (N. Maxwell)
    13. Temporal Presentness and the Dynamics of Spacetime (K.A. Peacock)
    14. Presentism and Quantum Gravity (B. Monton)

Product details

  • No. of pages: 306
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Elsevier Science 2006
  • Published: July 10, 2006
  • Imprint: Elsevier Science
  • eBook ISBN: 9780080461885
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780444527684

About the Series Volume Editor

Dennis Dieks

Affiliations and Expertise

Institute for History and Foundations of Science, Buys Ballot Laboratory, Utrecht, The Netherlands

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