A Metaphysical Reflection on the Notion of Background in Modern Spacetime Physics

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Vassallo, Antonio
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preprint description
The paper presents a metaphysical characterization of spatiotemporal backgrounds from a realist perspective. The conceptual analysis is based on a heuristic sketch that encompasses the common formal traits of the major spacetime theories, such as Newtonian mechanics and general relativity. It is shown how this framework can be interpreted in a fully realist fashion, and what is the role of background structures in such a picture. In the end it is argued that, although backgrounds are a source of metaphysical discomfort, still they make a spacetime theory easy to interpret. It is also suggested that this conclusion partially explains why the notion of background independence carries a lot of conceptual difficulties.