The Foundation of Reality: Fundamentality, Space and Time

13th - 15th March 2017

MBI Auditorium, Corpus Christi College, Oxford


It has traditionally been assumed that reality is fundamentally spatiotemporal; at the most basic level of description, space and time provide the background for the building blocks of our world. Recently, however, this assumption has been challenged from various directions. For example, some candidate theories of quantum gravity appear to treat spacetime as “effective” or “emergent”; this raises philosophical questions about the status of spacetime. Meanwhile, some metaphysicians have challenged the assumption that there even is a most fundamental level to be found. Others demur, defending the traditional view that space and time must be part of any description of fundamental reality.

The aim of this conference is to bring together leading metaphysicians and philosophers of physics working on these issues to allow for meaningful dialogue and fruitful interaction. By doing so, we hope to clarify the prospects for alternatives to the traditional view of a fundamental reality that includes space and time.


David Albert (Columbia University)
On the Emergence of Space and Time [abstract]

   Chair: Simon Saunders (University of Oxford)

Ralf Bader (University of Oxford)
Fundamentality and Non-symmetric Relations [abstract]

   Chair: Salim Hireche (University of Geneva)

Craig Callender (University of California, San Diego)
Bohumian Rhapsody [abstract]

   Chair: Alastair Wilson (University of Birmingham)

Michael Esfeld (University of Lausanne)
Leibnizian Relationalism: A Minimalist Ontology of the Natural World [abstract]

   Chair: Anna Marmodoro (University of Oxford)

Richard Healey (University of Arizona)
On the Independent Emergence of Space-time [abstract]

   Chair: Daniel Kodaj (University of Oxford)

Jenann Ismael (University of Arizona)
Space and Fundamentality [abstract]

   Chair: David Glick (University of Oxford)

Jill North (Rutgers University)
Spatiotemporal Structure and the Relational-Substantival Debate [abstract]

   Chair: Martin Pickup (University of Oxford)

Oliver Pooley (University of Oxford)
Fundamentality and the Dynamical Approach to Relativity [abstract]

   Chair:William Simpson (University of Cambridge)

Jonathan Schaffer (Rutgers University)
Beyond Fundamentality [abstract]

   Chair: Christopher Austin (University of Oxford)

Christian Wüthrich (University of Geneva)
Grounding (Space-) Time [abstract]

   Chair: George Darby (University of Oxford)



Complete conference programme is available here.

If you would like to register, please click here. The registration deadline is until 8th of March 2017.

Conference participants are eligible for reduced train fairs. For details, click here. (For those arriving by air, we recommend the Airline coach service.)


Questions? Please contact Dori Castillo at


The conference is financially supported by Board of the Faculty of PhilosophyTempleton World Charity Foundation and the Analysis Trust.

Podcasts of talks are available here.