20/05/2021 – Kian Salimkhani : Interpreting spacetime away


Usually, spacetime emergence is viewed as being suggested by certain (speculative) theories of quantum gravity in a rather immediate manner: in a given theory, aspects of spacetime are fundamental, if they feature in the fundamental equations, and aspects of spacetime are emergent, if they are absent in these equations. In this presentation, I explore to what extent our well-established theories of physics are able to support such expectations of spacetime emergence and argue that the question whether or not different aspects of spacetime should be viewed as emergent depends on different philosophical considerations – especially given a lack of clear-cut empirical data. For example, specific interpretations, namely certain dynamical interpretations (originally proposed by Brown and Pooley against a geometrical interpretation) of general relativity and quantum spin-2 theory, render metrical aspects of spacetime non-fundamental, i.e., ontologically dependent, and hence emergent. Thus, the question of whether aspects of spacetime are emergent does not immediately ‘follow’ from the physical theory itself, but is part of the question of what the best interpretation of this theory is – involving, for example, criteria of explanatory strength.

Biographical information:

Dr. Salimkhani earned his B.Sc. and his M.Sc. in Physics at University of Bonn, followed by a M.A. in Philosophy at University of Bonn. He then obtained his PhD of Philosophy at the same University, and more recently started postdoctoral studies at University of Cologne.

Dr. Salimkhani research interests focus mainly on spacetime theories and approaches to quantum gravity with respect to the issue of the (non-)fundamentality of spacetime.

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