Empirical incoherence and double functionalism

Sam Baron

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Recent work on quantum gravity (QG) suggests that neither spacetime nor spatiotemporally located entites exist at a fundamental level. The loss of both brings with it the threat of empirical incoherence. A theory is empirically incoherent when the truth of that theory undermines the empirical justification for believing it. If neither spacetime nor spatiotemporally located entities exist as a part of a fundamental theory of QG, then such a theory seems to imply that there are no observables and so no way that the theory can be confirmed. The threat of empirical incoherence can be addressed by treating spacetime and spatiotemporally located entities as emergent. The question then arises as to what the metaphysical nature of this emergence might be. In this paper, I explore a functionalist approach to this kind of emergence in the context of loop quantum gravity. I begin by rehearsing the spacetime functionalist’s account of emergence, clarifying the view along the way. I proceed to sketch out a functionalist treatment of spatiotemporally located entities and combine the two forms of functionalism into a double functionalism, according to which both spacetime and matter have the same functional realisers.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Nov 2019


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