The not so incredible shrinking future

Analysis 71 (2):240-244 (2011)
Abstract
Quel bon vent, quel joli vent, ma vie m’appelle, ma vie m’attend French folk song 1. Presentists and Growing Block theorists appeal to ‘powerful intuitions’ when they defend their respective conceptions of time . Eternalists are prepared to go some length towards ‘reconciling’ the view from nowhen with at least some of these intuitions, or try to explain them away . Unaided intuitions may in fact underdetermine any particular metaphysical choice. One set of intuitions about time seems to have been neglected, though, in spite of its power. These intuitions are the mirror image of those supporting the Growing Block theory , and they are modelled on a pre-reflective understanding of our own life. According to the intuitions, only the future and the present are real; the past isn’t. The present is the constantly eroding edge of the future, which thus shrinks incessantly. There is less and less future as the present proceeds. The obvious intuitive model of this view of time is our life; from which every day eats up a little bit. Smaller scale models are available in everyday life. As you are reading this text, you have less and less to read. You know it. You know that at some point you’ll finish, or stop, reading it. But a model is not enough to make a grand philosophical claim, and indeed the very existence of the model is the ground for a negative claim: a picture, it may be said, is holding you captive. The Future Shrinker has two tasks. The first is to show that the intuitive picture supporting the claim is robust and does not make implausible epistemological claims. The second task is to show that her theory is at least compatible with scientific lore, and at best a good way …
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