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Temporal Eliminativism

Edited by Sam Baron (University of Western Australia)
Assistant editor: James Darcy (University of Otago)
About this topic
Summary A central assumption of the traditional debate in temporal ontology between views such as presentism and eternalism is that time exists. Some philosophers and physicists deny this central assumption. Any theory that denies the existence of time faces a massive reconstruction project, whereby our everyday experiences of the world are recovered intact. The temporal eliminativism category is therefore devoted, on the one hand, to physical and metaphysical theories that deny the existence of time and, on the other hand, to attempts at completing the aforementioned reconstruction.  
Key works McTaggart 1908  famously argued that time does not exist. Gödel 1949 and Sprigge 1992 defend a position in the neighbourhood of McTaggart's. All three, however, take the A-series to be essential to time and so their error-theoretic conclusions may be a bit hasty. More recently Tallant 2008 and Tallant 2010 argue that time does not exist. Similarly, Julian Barbour defends the claim that completed theory of quantum gravity will have no place for time, see Barbour 1999, Barbour 1994 and Barbour 1994
Introductions Introductory material on this topic is difficult to come by, though Barbour 1999 is a good introduction to the issues surrounding time in quantum gravity. 
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  1. Julian Barbour (1999). The End of Time: The Next Revolution in Physics. Weidenfeld and Nicholson.
    In a revolutionary new book, a theoretical physicist attacks the foundations of modern scientific theory, including the notion of time, as he shares evidence of ...
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  2. Julian B. Barbour (1994). The Timelessness of Quantum Gravity: I. The Evidence From the Classical Theory. Classical and Quantum Gravity 11:2853--73.
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  3. Julian B. Barbour (1994). The Timelessness of Quantum Gravity: II. The Appearance of Dynamics in Static Configurations. Classical and Quantum Gravity 11:2875--97.
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  4. Sam Baron, Peter Evans & Kristie Miller (2010). From Timeless Physical Theory to Timelessness. Humana.Mente 13:35-59.
    This paper addresses the extent to which both Julian Barbour‘s Machian formulation of general relativity and his interpretation of canonical quantum gravity can be called timeless. We differentiate two types of timelessness in Barbour‘s (1994a, 1994b and 1999c). We argue that Barbour‘s metaphysical contention that ours is a timeless world is crucially lacking an account of the essential features of time—an account of what features our world would need to have if it were to count as being one in which (...)
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  5. Sam Baron & Kristie Miller (forthcoming). Causation Sans Time. American Philosophical Quarterly.
    Is time necessary for causation? We argue that, given a counterfactual theory of causation, it is not. We defend this claim by considering cases of counterfactual dependence in quantum mechanics. These cases involve laws of nature that govern entanglement. These laws make possible the evaluation of causal counterfactuals between space-like separated entangled particles. There is, for the proponent of a counterfactual theory of causation, a possible world in which causation but not time exists that can be reached by ‘stripping out’ (...)
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  6. Sam Baron & Kristie Miller (2014). Causation in a Timeless World. Synthese 191 (12):2867-2886.
    This paper offers a new way to evaluate counterfactual conditionals on the supposition that actually, there is no time. We then parlay this method of evaluation into a way of evaluating causal claims. Our primary aim is to preserve, at a minimum, the assertibility of certain counterfactual and causal claims once time has been excised from reality. This is an important first step in a more general reconstruction project that has two important components. First, recovering our ordinary language claims involving (...)
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  7. William Blattner (1999). Heidegger's Temporal Idealism. Cambridge University Press.
    This book is a systematic reconstruction of Heidegger's account of time and temporality in Being and Time. The author locates Heidegger in a tradition of 'temporal idealism' with its sources in Plotinus, Leibniz, and Kant. For Heidegger, time can only be explained in terms of 'originary temporality', a concept integral to his ontology. Blattner sets out not only the foundations of Heidegger's ontology, but also his phenomenology of the experience of time. Focusing on a neglected but central aspect of Being (...)
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  8. Edgar C. Boedeker (2002). Phenomenological Ontology or the Explanation of Social Norms?: A Confrontation with William Blattner's Heidegger's Temporal Idealism. Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 84 (3):334-344.
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  9. Jeremy Butterfield (2002). The End of Time? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 53:289--330.
    I discuss Julian Barbour's Machian theories of dynamics, and his proposal that a Machian perspective enables one to solve the problem of time in quantum geometrodynamics (by saying that there is no time!). I concentrate on his recent book, The End of Time (1999). A shortened version will appear in The British Journal for Philosophy of Science}.
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  10. Jeremy Butterfield (2002). Critical Notice. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 53 (2):289-330.
    This review of Julian Barbour's The End of Time ([1999]) discusses his Machian theories of dynamics, and his proposal that a Machian perspective enables one to solve the problem of time in quantum geometrodynamics, viz. by saying that there is no time! 1 Introduction 2 Machian themes in classical physics 2.1 The status quo 2.2 Machianism 2.2.1 The temporal metric as emergent 2.2.2 Machian theories 2.2.3 Assessing intrinsic dynamics 3 The end of time? 3.1 Time unreal? The classical case 3.1.1 (...)
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  11. Richard Capobianco (2000). Blattner, William D. Heidegger's Temporal Idealism. Review of Metaphysics 53 (4):918-919.
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  12. Taylor Carman (2000). Heidegger's Temporal Idealism. Journal of Philosophy 97 (5):308-312.
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  13. Tobias Chapman (1980). The Unreality of Time. Idealistic Studies 10 (2):122-130.
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  14. Michael Dummett (1960). A Defense of Mctaggart's Proof of the Unreality of Time. Philosophical Review 69 (4):497-504.
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  15. Kevin Falvey (2010). The View From Nowhen: The Mctaggart-Dummett Argument for the Unreality of Time. Philosophia 38 (2):297-312.
    Years ago, Michael Dummett defended McTaggart’s argument for the unreality of time, arguing that it cannot be dismissed as guilty of an “indexical fallacy.” Recently, E. J. Lowe has disputed Dummett’s claims for the cogency of the argument. I offer an elaboration and defense of Dummett’s interpretation of the argument (though not of its soundness). I bring to bear some work on tense from the philosophy of language, and some recent work on the concept of the past as it occurs (...)
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  16. Kurt Gödel (1949). An Example of a New Type of Cosmological Solutions of Einstein’s Field Equations of Gravitation. Reviews of Modern Physics 21:447–450.
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  17. Sean Gryb & Karim Thébault, Time Remains.
    How should one understand the implications of general covariance for the role of time in classical theories of gravity? On one popular view, the essential lesson is that change is relational in a strong sense, such that all it is for a physical degree of freedom to change is for it to vary with regard to a second physical degree of freedom. At a quantum level, this view of change as relative variation leads to a fundamentally timeless formalism for quantum (...)
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  18. Charles Guignon (2003). Heidegger's Temporal Idealism. International Studies in Philosophy 35 (4):168-170.
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  19. Tobias Hansson Wahlberg (2013). Dissolving McTaggart's Paradox. In C. Svennerlind, J. Almäng & R. Ingthorsson (eds.), Johanssonian Investigations. Ontos Verlag.
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  20. Richard Healey (2002). Can Physics Coherently Deny the Reality of Time? Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 50:293-.
    The conceptual and technical difficulties involved in creating a quantum theory of gravity have led some physicists to question, and even in some cases to deny, the reality of time. More surprisingly, this denial has found a sympathetic audience among certain philosophers of physics. What should we make of these wild ideas? Does it even make sense to deny the reality of time? In fact physical science has been chipping away at common sense aspects of time ever since its inception. (...)
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  21. Dennis C. Holt (1981). Timelessness and the Metaphysics of Temporal Existence. American Philosophical Quarterly 18 (2):149 - 156.
  22. Rögnvaldur Ingthorsson (1998). Mctaggart and the Unreality of Time. Axiomathes 9 (3):287-306.
    McTaggart's argument for the unreality of time is generally believed to be a self-contained argument independent of McTaggart's idealist ontology. I argue that this is mistaken. It is really a demonstration of a contradiction in the appearance of time, on the basis of certain a priori ontological axioms, in particular the thesis that all times exist in parity. When understood in this way, the argument is neither obscure or unfounded, but arguably does not address those versions of the A-theory that (...)
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  23. Cristina Ionescu (2001). Heidegger's Temporal Idealism. Studia Phaenomenologica 1 (1-2):378-380.
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  24. K. M. Jahn (2001). William D. Blattner, Heidegger's Temporal Idealism. Philosophy in Review 21 (1):8-9.
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  25. F. B. Jevons (1905). Timelessness. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 6:206 - 223.
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  26. Baptiste Le Bihan (2014). The Unrealities of Time. Dialogue.
    Is time flowing? A-theorists say yes, B-theorists say no. But both take time to be real. It means that B-theorists accept that time might be real, even if lacking a property usually ascribed to it. In this paper, I want to ask what are the different properties usually ascribed to time in order to draw the list of different possible kinds of realism and anti-realism about time. As we will see, there are three main kinds of anti-realism. I will claim (...)
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  27. Domenico Mancuso (2012). The Mathematics of McTaggart's Paradox. Manuscrito 35 (2):233-67.
    Mc Taggart's celebrated proof of the unreality of time is a chain of implications whose final step asserts that the A-series (i.e. the classification of events as past, present or future) is intrinsically contradictory. This is widely believed to be the heart of the argument, and it is where most attempted refutations have been addressed; yet, it is also the only part of the proof which may be generalised to other contexts, since none of the notions involved in it is (...)
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  28. Arjan Markus (2004). Divine Timelessness: A Coherent but Unfruitful Doctrine? Sophia 43 (2):29-48.
    The author argues in this article that it is possible to have a consistent and coherent version of the doctrine of divine timelessness. Towards the objection that a timeless God cannot act it is defended that a timeless God can certainly act in the world and can love human people. In spite of the consistency and coherence of the doctrine of divine timelessness, however, the author has serious problems with the fruitfulness of this doctrine when it comes to essential practices (...)
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  29. Kris McDaniel, John M. E. Mctaggart. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    This is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy comprehensive article on J.M.E. MacTaggart, with special focus on his methodology for philosophy, his metaphysical system, and his ethics.
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  30. J. Ellis McTaggart (1908). The Unreality of Time. Mind 17 (68):457-474.
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  31. Klaus Michael Jahn (2001). William D. Blattner, Heidegger's Temporal Idealism Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 21 (1):8-10.
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  32. Bradley Monton, Mctaggart and Contemporary Physics.
    There are interesting parallels between some of McTaggart’s metaphysical views and developments from contemporary physics. Can McTaggart’s positive metaphysical views provide guidance in understanding how reality can be timeless at the fundamental level? I argue that the guidance McTaggart actually provides is limited – though not by any means useless.
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  33. H. D. Oakeley (1946). The Philosophy of Time and the Timeless in McTaggart's Nature of Existence. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 47:105 - 128.
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  34. Robert Leet Patterson (1941). Dr. Broad's Refutation of Mctaggart's Arguments for the Unreality of Time. Philosophical Review 50 (6):602-610.
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  35. I. Prigogine (1997). The End of Certainty: Time, Chaos, and the New Laws of Nature. Free Press.
    [Time, the fundamental dimension of our existence, has fascinated artists, philosophers, and scientists of every culture and every century. All of us can remember a moment as a child when time became a personal reality, when we realized what a "year" was, or asked ourselves when "now" happened. Common sense says time moves forward, never backward, from cradle to grave. Nevertheless, Einstein said that time is an illusion. Nature's laws, as he and Newton defined them, describe a timeless, deterministic universe (...)
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  36. John T. Sanders, Time From the Inside Out.
    My main objective, in this paper, is to present at least a rough sketch of a new model for understanding time. Since many people are quite content with the model that they have, it will be worth while to show why a new model might be desirable, or even necessary. As it happens, looking at the problems involved in the more usual conception of time leads one naturally to look in certain directions for solutions, and such an introduction can therefore (...)
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  37. David P. B. Schroeren (2013). Decoherent Histories of Spin Networks. Foundations of Physics 43 (3):310-328.
    The decoherent histories formalism, developed by Griffiths, Gell-Mann, and Hartle (in Phys. Rev. A 76:022104, 2007; arXiv:1106.0767v3 [quant-ph], 2011; Consistent Quantum Theory, Cambridge University Press, 2003; arXiv:gr-qc/9304006v2, 1992) is a general framework in which to formulate a timeless, ‘generalised’ quantum theory and extract predictions from it. Recent advances in spin foam models allow for loop gravity to be cast in this framework. In this paper, I propose a decoherence functional for loop gravity and interpret existing results (Bianchi et al. in (...)
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  38. James K. A. Smith (2000). Heidegger's Temporal Idealism. International Philosophical Quarterly 40 (3):383-385.
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  39. T. L. S. Sprigge (1992). The Presidential Address: The Unreality of Time. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 92:1 - 19.
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  40. Jonathan Tallant (2008). What is It to “B” a Relation? Synthese 162 (1):117 - 132.
    The purpose of this paper is two fold: first, I look to show Oaklander’s (The ontology of time. New York: Prometheus Books, 2004) theory of time to be false. Second, I show that the only way to salvage the B-theory is via the adopting of the causal theory of time, and allying this to Oaklander’s claim that tense is to be eliminated. I then raise some concerns with the causal theory of time. My conclusion is that, if one adopts eternalism, (...)
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  41. Michael Tooley (2010). Farewell to Mctaggart's Argument? Philosophia 38 (2):243-255.
    Philosophers have responded to McTaggart’s famous argument for the unreality of time in a variety of ways. Some of those responses are not easy to evaluate, since they involve, for example, sometimes murky questions concerning whether a certain infinite regress is or is not vicious. In this paper I set out a response that has not, I think, been advanced by any other author, and which, if successful, is absolutely clear-cut. The basic idea is simply that a tensed approach to (...)
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  42. M. Ursic (2001). A Remark on the" Unreality of Time". Acta Analytica 25:161-172.
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  43. V. Welby (1909). Mr. Mctaggart on the "Unreality of Time". Mind 18 (70):326-328.
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