The Meaning of Relativity and the Liberation of the Relationalists

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Patrick Dürr
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preprint description
We analyse the various conceptual notions that go under the umbrella “relationalism/substantivalism”. Our focus will be on evaluating the ontological status of spacetime in General Relativity (GR). To this end we systematically develop the ontological framework that implicitly underlies the traditional debate and common understanding of (classical) physics. We submit that spacetime with its chronogeometric and inertial structure, represented by the triple of the bare manifold, the metric and the affine structure, is best construed as the totality of possible and actual spatiotemporal relations of events. This can explain the non-fundamentality of general relativistic gravitational energy and suggests a non-causal, non-interactional understanding of the interdependence of matter in spacetime in GR.

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