The Journal of Philosophy

Volume 119, Issue 5, May 2022

Trevor Teitel
Pages 233-278

How to Be a Spacetime Substantivalist

The consensus among spacetime substantivalists is to respond to Leibniz’s classic shift arguments, and their contemporary incarnation in the form of the hole argument, by pruning the allegedly problematic metaphysical possibilities that generate these arguments. Some substantivalists do so by directly appealing to a modal doctrine akin to anti-haecceitism. Other substantivalists do so by appealing to an underlying hyperintensional doctrine that implies some such modal doctrine. My first aim in this paper is to pose a challenge for all extant forms of this consensus position. My second aim is to show what form substantivalism must take in order to uphold the consensus while addressing this challenge. The result is a novel “plenitudinous” substantivalist view, which predicts that certain modal facts about spacetime are vague or indeterminate. I then argue against this view on independent grounds, concluding that substantivalists should reject the consensus position. The paper also discusses the way forward for substantivalists in light of this conclusion.