Philosophy of Physics Seminar (Thursday - Week 3, MT22)

Philosophy of Physics

Abstract: Quantum gravity's suggestion that spacetime may be emergent and so only exist contingently would force a radical reconception of extant analyses of laws of nature. Humeanism presupposes a spatiotemporal mosaic of particular matters of fact on which laws supervene; primitivism and dispositionalism conceive of the action of primitive laws or of dispositions as a process of `nomic production' unfolding over time. We show how the Humean supervenience basis of non-modal facts and primitivist or dispositionalist accounts of nomic production can be reconceived, avoiding a reliance on fundamental spacetime. However, it is unclear that naturalistic forms of Humeanism can maintain their commitment to there being no necessary connections among distinct entities. Furthermore, non-temporal conceptions of production render this central concept more elusive than before. In fact, the challenges run so deep that the survival of the investigated analyses into the era of quantum gravity is questionable.

This talk is based on joint work with Vincent Lam.


Philosophy of Physics Seminar Convenor for TT22: Simon Saunders  | Philosophy of Physics Group Website