In Search of Lost Spacetime


Smeenk, C. (2023). In Search of Lost Spacetime. Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.


Smeenk, Chris. In Search of Lost Spacetime. Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, May. 10, 2023,


          @misc{ scivideos_PIRSA:23050085,
            doi = {10.48660/23050085},
            url = {},
            author = {Smeenk, Chris},
            keywords = {Other Physics},
            language = {en},
            title = { In Search of Lost Spacetime},
            publisher = {Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics},
            year = {2023},
            month = {may},
            note = {PIRSA:23050085 see, \url{}}

Chris Smeenk Western University

Source Repository PIRSA
Talk Type Scientific Series


The classical spacetime manifold of general relativity disappears in quantum gravity, with different research programs suggesting a variety of alternatives in its place. As an illustration of how philosophers might contribute to an interdisciplinary project in quantum gravity, I will give an overview of recent philosophical debates regarding how classical spacetime "emerges."  I will criticize some philosophers as granting too much weight to the intuition that a coherent physical theory must describe objects as located in space and time.  I will further argue, based in part on historical episodes, that an account of emergence needs to recover the structural features of classical GR responsible for its empirical success.  This is more demanding than it might at first appear, although the details of recovery will differ significantly among different approaches to quantum gravity.

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