Locations
Hawthorne (John) & Sider (Ted)
Source: Hawthorne - Metaphysical Essays, 2006; Philosophical Topics 30 (2002): 53–76.
Paper - Abstract

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Authors’ Introduction

  1. Think of “locations” very abstractly, as positions in a space, any space. Temporal locations are positions in time; spatial locations are positions in (physical) space; particulars are locations in quality space.
  2. Should we reify locations? Are locations entities? Spatiotemporal relationalists say there are no such things as spatiotemporal locations; the fundamental spatial and temporal facts involve no locations as objects, only the instantiation of spatial and temporal relations. The denial of locations in quality space is the bundle theory, according to which particulars do not exist; facts apparently about particulars really concern relations between universals1.
  3. A “space”, in our abstract sense, consists of a set of objects, together with properties and relations defined on those objects. The objects are the locations of the space, and the distribution of the properties and relations over the locations defines the space’s structure. All spaces are thus quality spaces; when the relations are thought of as spatiotemporal then the space is also a spatiotemporal space. By not reifying locations one denies that these abstract spaces isomorphically represent the real world. The real world does in some sense have a structure that can be non-isomorphically represented by a space (or, more likely, a class of spaces), but the locations in those spaces do not correspond to anything real.
  4. We will examine modal2 considerations on reifying locations. Denying the existence of spatiotemporal locations excludes certain possibilities for spatiotemporal reality. Denying the existence of qualitative locations excludes certain possibilities for qualitative space. In each case the excluded possibilities are pre-analytically possible. Some of the possibilities can be reinstated by modifying the locationless theories, but at the cost of an unattractive holism.
  5. Do these modal3 considerations mandate postulating locations? That depends on whether modal4 intuition can teach us about the actual world. That deep question in the epistemology of modality5 will not be explored; we merely point out the modal6 consequences of repudiating locations.

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