Shedding light on time

Philosophy of Science 67 (3):599 (2000)
Abstract
Throughout this century many philosophers and physicists have gone for thc ‘big ki11’ regarding tenses. They have tried to show via McTaggart’s paradox and special relativity that tcnscs arc logically and physically impossible, rcspcctivcly. Ncithcr attempt succccds, though as I argue, both lcavc their mark. In thc iirst two sections of thc paper I introduce some conceptual difficulties for the tensed theory of time. The next section then discusses the standing 0f tenses in light of special relativity, cspccially rcccnt work by Stcin on thc topic. I argue that, Stcin’s possibility thcorcm notwithstanding, special relativity is inconsistent with any philosophicully interesting conception of tense. Finally, I search for help for tenses in the broader context of quantum theory, Lorcntzian interpretations 0f time dilation/length contraction, and gcncral relativistic spacctimcs. I suggest that these avenues d0 not provide tenses the home for which some have hoped.
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