Issues in the
Physics and Philosophy of Space and Time
1. What is the relationship between
mathematical or theoretical models and experiential reality? [Zeno et al.
see Q13 below]
2.Empiricism is the view that our knowledge of the
physical world is based* on experience. But, "based on" has meant  has
its source in, or  is validated by. Pure
geometries are empirical in the first sense but not in the second. [Cf Q 14
3.Does the universe have a temporal origin?
space and time [or - in relativity physics, spacetime] "realities"
independent of physical objects, processes and events?
what is their nature? Are they substances? What sort of properties
do they have? [Plato's "receptacle"]
6.Are there any empirical
(or epistemic or metaphysical) tests relevant one way or the other?
[Newton's bucket and globes]
7.Are space and time discrete or
8.Are spatial and temporal continua
"pointlike"? If so, what is the relationship between the size of an
interval and the number of points that it contains? [Zeno, Aristotle,
9.What is the nature of infinity? What is the difference
between infinite divisibility and infinite extendibility?
What is the difference between potential infinities and
actual infinities? Are any infinities actual? [Aristotle
thought no; moderns think yes]
10.Can we make sense of the notion
that some infinities are "larger" than others? [Cantor]
physical space and time have an "intrinsic structure", I. e., a "natural"
12.If so, what is it? How would we go about trying to
experimentally or experientially determine what it was? [Gauss, Poincare -
this question presumes that there are viable alternatives to Euclid, see
13.What is the role of convention in testing the
applicability of theoretical models to experiential reality? How does one
determine, e. g., that two temporal intervals are congruent? How about two
spatial intervals (at a distance)? [Cf Q1 and Q2 above]
nineteenth century, it was discovered that there were alternatives to
Euclidean geometry. This led to the distinction between "pure" and
"applied" geometries. How are they related? Is it a matter of fact that
the geometry of the physical world is what it is or is it a matter of
15.Does nature abhor a vacuum? If not, what are