Foundations of Physics

, Volume 30, Issue 10, pp 1605–1628 | Cite as

Substantivalism, Relationism, and Structural Spacetime Realism

  • Mauro Dorato


Debates about the ontological implications of the general theory of relativity have long oscillated between spacetime substantivalism and relationism. I evaluate such debates by claiming that we need a third option, which I refer to as “structural spacetime realism.” Such a tertium quid sides with the relationists in defending the relational nature of the spacetime structure, but joins the substantivalists in arguing that spacetime exists, at least in part, independently of particular physical objects and events, the degree of “independence” being given by the extent to which geometrical laws exist “over and above” physical events exemplifying them. By showing that structural spacetime realism is the natural outcome of a semantic, model-theoretic approach to the nature of scientific theories, I conclude by arguing that the notion of partial isomorphic representation is the most plausible candidate to connect spacetime models with reality.


General Theory Defend Physical Event Scientific Theory Physical Object 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mauro Dorato
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Rome 3RomeItaly;

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