Sie sind hier: Startseite Aktuelles Tagung: Spacetime Spacetime: Fundamental or Emergent?

Spacetime: Fundamental or Emergent?

Bonn, 26 – 28 October 2017


This International Workshop is organized as an event of the DFG-funded research unit Inductive Metaphysics.

Here is a flyer with the program and some additional information; the abstracts can be found here.



  • Karen Crowther
  • Richard Dawid
  • Neil Dewar
  • Michael Esfeld
  • Dennis Lehmkuhl
  • J. Brian Pitts
  • James Read
  • Kian Salimkhani
  • Alastair Wilson
  • Christian Wüthrich



Spacetime or spatiotemporal relations have traditionally been considered as perfect candidates for fundamental entities or structures of reality. However, in modern physics and philosophy this general agreement has been challenged by, for example, physical theories that try to recover spacetime as an emergent structure resulting in the current debate on the (non-)fundamentality of spacetime. With respect to this debate, our workshop attempts to explore three central aspects: First, what kind of entity is spacetime? Is it essentially a geometrical entity, as the received view has it, or just a physical field that can be described by geometrical means? Is that field grounding other physical fields, or is it rather one among many? Second, this naturally evokes the question of what is involved in claims of fundamentality of physical entities, and thus is connected to a current debate in the metaphysics of science. We suggest that the issue of fundamentality or emergence is where the general metaphysical status of scientific entities is reflected within physics. Third, the foregoing topics merge in the concrete question of what different approaches to quantum gravity, like loop quantum gravity, the spin-2 approach, or string theory, may reveal about the status of spacetime. Is spacetime an emergent entity as most approaches seem to suggest? If so, which concept of emergence will apply? We suggest that these questions indicate how closely metaphysical issues are entangled with the current development of physics.


Practical Information

Participation is free, but limited. To register, please send an email to ksalimkhani[at] with your name and affiliation. Also, we invite graduate students to apply for a travel grant (up to 200 EUR). To do so, please send a cover letter of no more than one page describing your current research interest and its relevance to the topic of the Workshop as well as a CV to ksalimkhani[at] until 15 August. Decisions will be made by early September. Female graduate students are especially encouraged to apply and will be given priority.

Universitätsclub Bonn, Konviktstr. 9, 53113 Bonn

From Cologne/Bonn Airport to Bonn Central Station:
Take the bus (SB 60) from the airport terminal to Bonn Central Station (“Bonn Hauptbahnhof”). It takes approximately 30 minutes.

From Düsseldorf Airport to Bonn Central Station:
Either you take the train RE 5 to Koblenz via Bonn Central Station or you get to Düsseldorf Central Station (“Düsseldorf Hauptbahnhof”) first and then take the IC to Offenburg via Bonn Central Station. Both takes about an hour.

From Frankfurt Airport to Bonn Central Station:
Take the IC directing to Cologne Central Station (“Köln Hauptbahnhof”) via Bonn Central Station (less than two hours ride). It is also possible to take the ICE directing to Cologne Central Station which you exit at “Siegburg/Bonn”. From there you get on the tram 66 (STR 66) from Siegburg Station (“Siegburg Bahnhof”) to Bonn Central Station (approximately one hour in total).

From Bonn Central Station to Uni Club:
For Uni Club, exit Bonn Central Station via “Poststraße”, then turn right to “Am Hauptbahnhof”, leave behind the bus station and make your way to “Kaiserplatz” (via “Maximilianstraße”) which you cross turn left into “Regina-Pacis-Weg”. Follow “Regina-Pacis-Weg” to Bonn University's main building (left-hand side) and “Hofgarten” (right-hand side). Shortly after, you cross “Adenauer Alle” and immediatly turn left through “Koblenzer Tor”. Then turn right into “Konviktstraße”. After about 200 meters you will see the University Club's main entrance on the left-hand side. It takes about 10 minutes.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of nearby hotels:

Max Hostel
Maxstr. 75, 3111 Bonn

ibis Bonn
Vorgebirgsstrasse 33, 53119 Bonn

Mozartstr.1, 53115 Bonn

Hotel garni Löhndorf
Stockenstraße 6, 53113 Bonn

Hausdorffstr. 105-113, 53129 Bonn

Günnewig Hotel Residence by Centro
Kaiserplatz 11, 53113 Bonn

Hilton Bonn
Berliner Freiheit 2, 53111 Bonn

Markt 8, 53111 Bonn

Andreas Bartels
Kian Salimkhani (ksalimkhani[at]



We will start on Thursday at 10:30 am, and finish around 12:00 (noon) on Saturday.

Thursday, October 26
Wolfgang Paul Saal

9:30 – 10:30

10:30 – 10:45
Andreas Bartels, Bonn

10:45 – 12:00
Dennis Lehmkuhl, Caltech
Is it possible for spacetime to be neither fundamental nor emergent? Learning from Einstein’s path towards field realism


14:00 – 15:15
Neil Dewar, Munich
Noether's theorems from the perspective of general covariance

Coffee Break

15:30 – 16:45
James Read, Oxford
On miracles and spacetime

Friday, October 27
Josef Alois Schumpeter Raum

9:15 – 10:30
Christian Wüthrich, Geneva
Spacetime is as spacetime does

Coffee Break

10:45 – 12:00
Karen Crowther, Geneva
Fundamentality and emergence in quantum gravity


14:00 – 15:15
Michael Esfeld, Lausanne
An argument for fundamental distance relations

Coffee Break

15:30 – 16:45
Alastair Wilson, Birmingham
Dependence without spacetime

16:45 – 18:00
Kian Salimkhani, Bonn
Lorentz invariance and the non-fundamentality of spacetime

Conference Dinner

Saturday, October 28
Josef Alois Schumpeter Raum

9:15 – 10:30
Richard Dawid, Stockholm
String Theory, Empirical Equivalence and Fundamentality

Coffee Break

10:45 – 12:00
J. Brian Pitts, Cambridge
What Represents Space-time and What Follows for Substantivalism vs. Relationalism and for Gravitational Energy?


13:00 – 15:00
Social Programme