PHIL 146: Philosophy of Physics

This quarter the course will focus on spacetime physics, classical and relativistic. (Last year we did foundations of quantum
mechanics.) Topics will include: is space(time) a substance? Is simultaneity conventional? Is physical geometry and topology
conventional? What is a singularity,
really? Does relativity prove that time
doesn’t flow? These fascinating topics
and others have enjoyed extensive treatment in the physics and philosophical
literature. Along the way we will learn
about various classical spacetimes, Minkowski spacetime and then even
a few interesting general relativistic spacetimes. All the physics/math necessary for the course
will be taught in class; the class will definitely be accessible to humanities
students and conceptually challenging to both humanities and science majors.

**Instructor:** Dr
Craig Callender

**Contact details**: Rm HSS 8072

822-4911

**Office hours**: Wed
11-12 and by appt

**Place:** WLH
2209,

**Reading**

1. Geroch, __General
Relativity from A to B__. This book is
accessible to absolutely everyone, but it is still quite sophisticated. It is written by one of the foremost
authorities on general relativity in the world today. In it, we’ll find an introduction to the
basic ideas of classical spacetimes and relativistic spacetimes.

2. Reichenbach, __The
Philosophy of Space and Time__. This
nice little ^{th} century.

The
remainder of the readings will consist of:

3. Articles/chapters available electronically on the
__E-reserves__ associated with this
course. Go to reserves.ucsd.edu and
follow the links to the course web site (using either my name or the subject).

4. my notes

**Grading.**

The
grade will be determined by a major research paper (30%), a take home final
exam (30%), homework sets worth 30%, and a research paper outline (explained in
class) worth 10%. The first paper is due
**May 19 ^{th}** . The outline of the topic chosen and path to
pursue is due

**Background ****Reading**

__Introducing Time __by Craig Callender,
Icon Press, 2001. This is a silly little
book; but it is useful background reading for parts of the course.

__Time and Space __by Barry Dainton,
2001. The four chapters we need will be
scanned in, but it is a nice readable book that you may wish to purchase.

__Foundations of Spacetime Physics__, Michael Friedman.
Advanced, but excellent in all ways.

__World Enough and Spacetime__, John Earman. Advanced on substantivalism
issue, but excellent.

__Bangs, Whimpers, Crunches
and Shrieks__,
John Earman.
Advanced topics in general relativity—excellent.

__Philosophical Problems of Spacetime Theories__, Adolph Grunbaum. A classic.

__Space, Time, and Spacetime__, Larry Sklar. Medium advanced and excellent—about the right
level for this course

__Space From Zeno to Einstein__, Nick Huggett. Classic readings with insightful and readable
commentary.

__The Shape of Space__, Nerhlich. Good and readable.

__Introduction to the
Philosophy of Science__, Salmon et al. Chapter 5 on spacetime by John Norton.

__Blackwell Guide to the
Philosophy of Science__, Machamer and Silberstein. Ch. 9 on spacetime by Craig Callender and
Carl Hoefer.

**Tentative Schedule**

I
doubt that we will have time to cover all the following topics, but we will do
what we can in more or less in the order described.

Topic 1. Absolute versus Relational Space:
Aristotelian Spacetime

Events, Spacetime and
Aristotle, Geroch, pp. 3-36

Dainton, “Conceptions of Void”, pp. 132-150

“The Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence” in Huggett , __Space From Zeno to Einstein __, 1999, pp.
143-158.

Concept of metric space: notes
and homework

Topic 2. Absolute versus Relational Space:
Galilean

Galilean View and Problems, Geroch,
pp. 37-52

Dainton, 181-199

Topic 3. Special Relativity

The Interval, Physics and Geometry of
Intervals, Geroch, 53-112

Twin paradox, lecture notes

Topic 4. General Relativity

Einstein’s Equation, Curvature and General
Relativity, Geroch, 113-185

Lecture notes

Topic 5. Absolute versus Relational Spacetime: Relativistic

Maudlin, “Buckets of Water and Waves of Space: Why Spacetime is Probably a Substance”

Dainton, e-reserves chapters

Lecture notes

Topic 6. Conventionality of Physical Geometry
and Topology

Reichenbach,
Chapter 1

Weingard,
Robert. "Realism and the Topology of Spacetime",
on e-reserves

Reichenbach, “the
number of dimensions of space” 273-282

Jean-Pierre Luminet
, Glenn D. Starkman and Jeffrey R. Weeks “Is Space Finite?**” **

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=00065A99-90A6-1CD6-B4A8809EC588EEDF

Topic 7. Conventionality of Simultaneity

Reichenbach, pp.
123-135

Norton, "Philosophy of Space and Time: Malament’s Result", section 5.11

Janis, Allen, “Conventionality of
Simultaneity” http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/spacetime-convensimul/

Topic 8. Time’s Flow and Relativity

Putnam, Hilary, “Time and Physical Geometry” in *Journal of Philosophy ***64***
*(1967): 240-247

Stein, Howard, “On Relativity Theory and the Openness
of the Future,” in *Philosophy of Science ***58** (1991): 147-167.*

Callender, C. “Shedding Light on Time” *Philosophy of Science** (Proceedings*), 67, 2000, S587-S599.

Kurt
Gödel, “ A Remark About the Relationship Between Relativity Theory and
Idealistic Philosophy”

Savitt,
S. “Being and Becoming in Modern Physics” http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/spacetime-bebecome/

Lewis, “The Paradoxes of Time Travel” in his *Collected Papers *(Vol
II): 67-80.

Nahin, technical
note from *Time Machines*.*

* = not required

**Spacetime**** Links**:

Ned Wright's Relativity
Tutorial

The Hole Argument