- Sostanzialismo e relazionalismo dello spaziotempo alla luce della relatività generale

- Castelli, Andrea <1979>

- M-FIL/02 Logica e filosofia della scienza

- Until recently the debate on the ontology of spacetime had only a philosophical significance, since, from a physical point of view, General Relativity has been made "immune" to the consequences of the "Hole Argument" simply by reducing the subject to the assertion that solutions of Einstein equations which are mathematically different and related by an active diffeomorfism are physically equivalent. From a technical point of view, the natural reading of the consequences of the "Hole Argument” has always been to go further and say that the mathematical representation of spacetime in General Relativity inevitably contains a “superfluous structure” brought to light by the gauge freedom of the theory. This position of apparent split between the philosophical outcome and the physical one has been corrected thanks to a meticulous and complicated formal analysis of the theory in a fundamental and recent (2006) work by Luca Lusanna and Massimo Pauri entitled “Explaining Leibniz equivalence as difference of non-inertial appearances: dis-solution of the Hole Argument and physical individuation of point-events”. The main result of this article is that of having shown how, from a physical point of view, point-events of Einstein empty spacetime, in a particular class of models considered by them, are literally identifiable with the autonomous degrees of freedom of the gravitational field (the Dirac observables, DO). In the light of philosophical considerations based on realism assumptions of the theories and entities, the two authors then conclude by saying that spacetime point-events have a degree of "weak objectivity", since they, depending on a NIF (non-inertial frame), unlike the points of the homogeneous newtonian space, are plunged in a rich and complex non-local holistic structure provided by the “ontic part” of the metric field. Therefore according to the complex structure of spacetime that General Relativity highlights and within the declared limits of a methodology based on a Galilean scientific representation, we can certainly assert that spacetime has got "elements of reality", but the inevitably relational elements that are in the physical detection of point-events in the vacuum of matter (highlighted by the “ontic part” of the metric field, the DO) are closely dependent on the choice of the global spatiotemporal laboratory where the dynamics is expressed (NIF). According to the two authors, a peculiar kind of structuralism takes shape: the point structuralism, with common features both of the absolutist and substantival tradition and of the relationalist one. The intention of this thesis is that of proposing a method of approaching the problem that is, at least at the beginning, independent from the previous ones, that is to propose an approach based on the possibility of describing the gravitational field at three distinct levels. In other words, keeping the results achieved by the work of Lusanna and Pauri in mind and following their underlying philosophical assumptions, we intend to partially converge to their structuralist approach, but starting from what we believe is the "foundational peculiarity" of General Relativity, which is that characteristic inherent in the elements that constitute its formal structure: its essentially geometric nature as a theory considered regardless of the empirical necessity of the measure theory. Observing the theory of General Relativity from this perspective, we can find a "triple modality" for describing the gravitational field that is essentially based on a geometric interpretation of the spacetime structure. The gravitational field is now "visible" no longer in terms of its autonomous degrees of freedom (the DO), which, in fact, do not have a tensorial and, therefore, nor geometric nature, but it is analyzable through three levels: a first one, called the potential level (which the theory identifies with the components of the metric tensor), a second one, known as the connections level (which in the theory determine the forces acting on the mass and, as such, offer a level of description related to the one that the newtonian gravitation provides in terms of components of the gravitational field) and, finally, a third level, that of the Riemann tensor, which is peculiar to General Relativity only. Focusing from the beginning on what is called the "third level" seems to present immediately a first advantage: to lead directly to a description of spacetime properties in terms of gauge-invariant quantites, which allows to "short circuit" the long path that, in the treatises analyzed, leads to identify the "ontic part” of the metric field. It is then shown how to this last level it is possible to establish a “primitive level of objectivity” of spacetime in terms of the effects that matter exercises in extended domains of spacetime geometrical structure; these effects are described by invariants of the Riemann tensor, in particular of its irreducible part: the Weyl tensor. The convergence towards the affirmation by Lusanna and Pauri that the existence of a holistic, non-local and relational structure from which the properties quantitatively identified of point-events depend (in addition to their own intrinsic detection), even if it is obtained from different considerations, is realized, in our opinion, in the assignment of a crucial role to the degree of curvature of spacetime that is defined by the Weyl tensor even in the case of empty spacetimes (as in the analysis conducted by Lusanna and Pauri). In the end, matter, regarded as the physical counterpart of spacetime curvature, whose expression is the Weyl tensor, changes the value of this tensor even in spacetimes without matter. In this way, going back to the approach of Lusanna and Pauri, it affects the DOs evolution and, consequently, the physical identification of point-events (as our authors claim). In conclusion, we think that it is possible to see the holistic, relational, and non-local structure of spacetime also through the "behavior" of the Weyl tensor in terms of the Riemann tensor. This "behavior" that leads to geometrical effects of curvature is characterized from the beginning by the fact that it concerns extensive domains of the manifold (although it should be pointed out that the values of the Weyl tensor change from point to point) by virtue of the fact that the action of matter elsewhere indefinitely acts. Finally, we think that the characteristic relationality of spacetime structure should be identified in this "primitive level of organization" of spacetime.

- 2009-05-09

- Doctoral Thesis

- PeerReviewed

- application/pdf

urn:nbn:it:unibo-1644

Castelli, Andrea (2009) Sostanzialismo e relazionalismo dello spaziotempo alla luce della relatività generale, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Filosofia