[time 1043] The Hole Argument

Stephen Paul King (stephenk1@home.com)
Sat, 27 Nov 1999 01:50:04 -0500

Hi All,

"What is space? What is time? Do they exist independently of the things
and processes in them? Or is their existence parasitic on these things
and processes? Are they like a canvas onto which an artist paints; they
exist whether or not the artist paints on them? Or are they akin to
parenthood; there is no parenthood until there are parents and children?
That is, is there no space and time until there are things with spatial
properties and processes with temporal durations?

These questions have long been debated and continue to be debated. The
hole argument arose when these questions were asked in the context of
modern spacetime physics. In that context, space and time are fused into
a single entity, spacetime, and we inquire into its status. One view is
that spacetime is a substance, a thing that exists independently of the
processes occurring within spacetime. This is spacetime substantivalism.
The hole argument seeks to show that this viewpoint leads to unpalatable
conclusions in a large class of spacetime theories. Spacetime
substantivalism requires that we ascribe such a surfeit of properties to
spacetime that neither observation nor even the laws of the relevant
spacetime theory itself can determine which are the correct ones. Such
abundance is neither logically contradictory nor refuted by experience.
But there must be some bounds on how rich a repertoire of hidden
properties can be ascribed to spacetime. The hole argument urges that
spacetime substantivalism goes beyond those bounds."




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