CFP: Synthese Special Issue on Spacetime Functionalism

Submission deadline: December 1, 2018

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Guest Editors: Karen Crowther, Niels Linnemann, Christian Wüthrich (Department of Philosophy, University of Geneva)

The aim of the special issue is to investigate whether and how a functionalist approach may provide the relevant conceptual tools for understanding the nature of spacetime, particularly as described by fundamental physics. A precursor to the idea of spacetime functionalism has been applied in the context of special relativity (in the form of Brown’s “dynamical approach”), yet the idea promises to be useful also in general relativity, and beyond – to quantum gravity, where it has been suggested that spacetime is not fundamental, and the issue of emergence arises. We would like to discuss the analogy here with other forms of functionalism in philosophy – in particular in metaphysics and philosophy of mind.

Appropriate Topics for Submission include, among others:

  • What is the “role” of spacetime in our physical theories?
  • What can we learn about the nature of spacetime using a functionalist approach?
  • Is “being spacetime” only a function?
  • The relationship between functionalism and reduction, in the context of spacetime theories
  • Can functionalism illuminate the question of spacetime emergence?
  • Can functionalism help us recover/identify a conception of time in a theory without spacetime?
  • What plays the role of spacetime in general relativity/in different specific approaches to quantum gravity?
  • Comparing spacetime functionalism and other forms of functionalism (e.g., in the philosophy of mind)

The deadline for submissions is December 1, 2018.

Before submitting your paper, please, read carefully the Synthese “Instructions for Authors” at:

Papers should be submitted via the editorial manager at:

When the system asks you to “Choose Article Type”, scroll down in the pulldown menu to “S.I. Spacetime Functionalism”.

For further information, please contact the guest editors: [email protected]

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