25 Feb: Antonio Vassallo, “Dependence Relations in General Relativity”

The second talk in our spring FraMEPhys Seminar series was given by Dr Antonio Vassallo (University of Barcelona) on Monday 25th February 2019. Antonio’s title was “Dependence Relations in General Relativity”, and his abstract was as follows:

“I will discuss the nature of the dependence relations underpinning the talk of mutual action between material and spatiotemporal structures in general relativity. In particular, I will present a case study involving frame-dragging effects. Frame-dragging relates local inertial frames to distant distributions of matter in a time-independent way, thus establishing some sort of non-local link between the two. For this reason, a plain causal interpretation of frame-dragging faces huge challenges. By using a generalized structural equation model analysis I will argue that frame-dragging is best understood in terms of a novel type of dependence relation that is half-way between causation and grounding.”

Antonio’s central argument was that the lawlike status of the Einstein Equations renders the overall frame-dragging model explanation as partly causal and partly metaphysical.

There was a reading group before the talk, outside in the February sunshine, where we read Carl Hoefer’s “Mach’s Principle as Action-at-a-distance in General Relativity: The Causality Question”.

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