Talk: Philipp Berghofer

The Geneva Symmetry Group, Beyond Spacetime, and the Space and Time After Quantum Gravity Project are happy to present

Philipp Berghofer (University of Graz):
Ontic structural realism and quantum field theory: are there intrinsic properties at the most fundamental level of Reality?

Wednesday, 1 March, 18:00

Room L107 at 2, Rue De-Candolle

Anyone who wishes to attend this talk is welcome. The talk will be 2 Einsteins (out of 5).

Abstract: Ontic structural realism (OSR), in its radical guise, has it that structures are all there is. This implies that there are no objects. Neither the particles your body is made of, nor the chair you are sitting on really exists. To be sure, radical OSRs do not deny that relations have relata, but they interpret these relata in structural terms. It is relations all the way down. Considering the radicality of this eliminativist view, it comes as no surprise that many researchers sympathetic to OSR have opted for a more moderate version of OSR. Moderate OSR: Objects only have relational but no intrinsic properties. Very recently there has emerged a position that seems to be even more moderate. This is the claim that at the most fundamental level of reality there are only relational properties. In this context, Kerry McKenzie has referred to quantum field theory (QFT) in order to argue for this moderate version of OSR. While I approve this focus on QFT, I am puzzled by McKenzie’s focus on elementary particles. What QFT tells us is that the most fundamental entities are fields, not particles. Particles “merely” are excitations of fields. The question, thus, is: Do fields have intrinsic properties? Finally, I shall discuss what this means for spacetime structuralism and what effects research in quantum gravity might have on OSR.

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About wuthrich

I am a philosopher of physics at the University of Geneva.
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