My dissertation studies the foundations of loop quantum gravity (LQG), a candidate for a quantum theory of gravity based on classical general relativity. At the outset, I discuss two—and I claim separate—questions: first, do we need a quantum theory of gravity at all; and second, if we do, does it follow that gravity should or even must be quantized? My evaluation of different arguments either way suggests that while no argument can be considered conclusive, there are strong indications that gravity should be quantized.

LQG attempts a canonical quantization of general relativity and thereby provokes a foundational interest as it must take a stance on many technical issues tightly linked to the interpretation of general relativity. Most importantly, it codifies general relativity's main innovation, the so-called background independence, in a formalism suitable for quantization. This codification pulls asunder what has been joined together in general relativity: space and time. It is thus a central issue whether or not general relativity's four-dimensional structure can be retrieved in the alternative formalism and how it fares through the quantization process. I argue that the rightful four-dimensional spacetime structure can only be partially retrieved at the classical level. What happens at the quantum level is an entirely open issue in the literature and I sketch how background independence could be understood there.

Known examples of classically singular behaviour which gets regularized by quantization evoke an admittedly pious hope that the singularities which notoriously plague the classical theory may be washed away by quantization. This works scrutinizes pronouncements claiming that the initial singularity of classical cosmological models vanishes in quantum cosmology based on LQG and concludes that these claims must be severely qualified. In particular, I explicate why casting the quantum cosmological models in terms of a deterministic temporal evolution fails to capture the concepts at work adequately. Finally, a scheme is developed of how the re-emergence of the smooth spacetime from the underlying discrete quantum structure could be understood.

Last modified on 6 March 2008. Created and maintained by Christian Wüthrich. URL: http://philosophy.ucsd.edu/faculty/wuthrich/pub/dissertationdescription.html |