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Temporal Eliminativism

Edited by Sam Baron
Assistant editor: James Darcy (University of Otago)
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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. 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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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. 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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  6. 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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  7. 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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  8. Tobias Hansson Wahlberg (2013). Dissolving McTaggart's Paradox. In C. Svennerlind, J. Almäng & R. Ingthorsson (eds.), Johanssonian Investigations. Ontos Verlag.
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  9. 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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  10. Dennis C. Holt (1981). Timelessness and the Metaphysics of Temporal Existence. American Philosophical Quarterly 18 (2):149 - 156.
  11. F. B. Jevons (1905). Timelessness. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 6:206 - 223.
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  12. Baptiste Le Bihan (forthcoming). The Unrealities of Time. Dialogue 1.
    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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  13. 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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  14. J. Ellis McTaggart (1908). The Unreality of Time. Mind 17 (68):457-474.
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  15. 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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  16. 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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  17. 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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  18. T. L. S. Sprigge (1992). The Presidential Address: The Unreality of Time. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 92:1 - 19.
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  19. 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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  20. V. Welby (1909). Mr. Mctaggart on the "Unreality of Time". Mind 18 (70):326-328.
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