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Determinism and General Relativity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022


We investigate the fate of determinism in general relativity (GR), comparing the philosopher’s account with the physicist’s well-posed initial value formulations. The fate of determinism is interwoven with the question of what it is for a spacetime to be ‘physically reasonable’. A central concern is the status of global hyperbolicity, a putatively necessary condition for determinism in GR. While global hyperbolicity may fail to be true of all physically reasonable models, we analyze whether global hyperbolicity should be (i) imposed by fiat; (ii) established from weaker assumptions, as in cosmic censorship theorems; or (iii) justified by beyond-GR physics.

Research Article
Copyright 2021 by the Philosophy of Science Association. All rights reserved.

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We thank Gordon Belot, Juliusz Doboszewski, J. B. Manchak, the audience at PSA 2010 in Montreal, the New Directions group at Western University, and two anonymous referees for their valuable feedback and exchanges. We acknowledge partial support from the John Templeton Foundation (grants 61048 and 61387). Both authors contributed equally to this article.


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