1st Edition

The Non-Fundamentality of Spacetime General Relativity, Quantum Gravity, and Metaphysics

By Kian Salimkhani Copyright 2024
    266 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book argues that our current best theories of fundamental physics are best interpreted as positing spacetime as non-fundamental. It is written in accessible language and largely avoids mathematical technicalities by instead focusing on the key metaphysical and foundational lessons for the fundamentality of spacetime.

    According to orthodoxy, spacetime and spatiotemporal properties are regarded as fundamental structures of our world. Spacetime fundamentalism, however, faces challenges from speculative theories of quantum gravity – roughly speaking, the project of applying the lessons of quantum mechanics to gravitation and spacetime. This book demonstrates that the non-fundamentality of spacetime does not rely on speculative physics alone. Rather, one can give an interpretation of general relativity that supports some form of spacetime non-fundamentalism. The author makes the case for spacetime non-fundamentalism in three steps. First, he confronts the standard geometrical interpretation of general relativity with Brown and Pooley’s dynamical approach to relativity theory. Second, he considers an alternative derivation of the Einstein field equations, namely the classical spin-2 approach, and argues that it paves the way for a refined dynamical approach to general relativity. Finally, he argues that particle physics can serve as a continuity condition for the metaphysics of spacetime.

    The Non-Fundamentality of Spacetime will be of interest to scholars and advanced students working in philosophy of physics, philosophy of science, and metaphysics.

    1. Introduction

    2. Fundamentality

    3. Spacetime in Relativity Theory

    4. Classical ‘Spin-2’ Gravity

    5. Spacetime in Quantum Gravity

    6. Unification

    7. Conclusion

    Appendix: More Detailed Calculations 


    Kian Salimkhani is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Cologne, Germany, and a member of the DFG research group “Inductive Metaphysics”. He mainly works on philosophy of physics, metaphysics, and general philosophy of science.

    "This book combines novel, breakthrough contributions with insightful overviews of the state of the art in the foundations of spacetime."

    Vera Matarese, University of Bern, Switzerland