Which Worldlines Represent Possible Particle Histories?

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Based on three common interpretive commitments in general relativity, I raise a conceptual problem for the usual identification, in that theory, of timelike curves as those that represent the possible histories of (test) particles in spacetime. This problem affords at least three different solutions, depending on different representational and ontological assumptions one makes about the nature of (test) particles, fields, and their modal structure. While I advocate for a cautious pluralism regarding these options, I also suggest that re-interpreting (test) particles as field processes offers the most promising route for natural integration with the physics of material phenomena, including quantum theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)582-599
Number of pages18
JournalFoundations of Physics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Closed timelike curves
  • Event ontology
  • Field ontology
  • General relativity
  • Particle ontology
  • Process ontology


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