Notes on the causal theory of time

Synthese 24 (1-2):74 - 86 (1972)
I have argued that the most recent versions of the causal theory are subject to serious limitations. The causal analysis of spatiotemporal coincidence considered in Section IV does not apply to space-times in which (1) fails. And current versions of the theory collapse altogether for typical cases of relativistic space-times which are closed in their temporal aspects. Second, I have pointed out that the program of recent causal theorists is based on a false dichotomy — open vs. closed times; for only a small subclass of relativisitic space-times can be said to be either open or closed in their temporal aspects, and the causal theory seems incapable of handling the cases which fall in between. Third, I have argued that the general theory of relativity does not provide motivation for the causal theory; on the contrary, general relativity promotes the view of spacetime as a substantial entity.As a result, I do not see that the causal theorist has a convincing argument against the position which holds that in order to understand the subtle and complex temporal structures encompassed by relativity theory, one must accept space-time as an entity which cannot be analyzed away as an abstract mathematical construct used for representing the ‘physical’, i.e., causal, relations between events. And I cannot agree with van Fraassen (1970, p. 140) that Philosophers were not long in appreciating this development [i.e., relativity theory], and the consequent construction of the causal theory of time and space-time must be considered one of the major contributions of twentieth-century philosophy of science. For it seems to me that causal theorists have failed to appreciate this development and that the construction of the causal theory has served to obscure important and interesting facts about the temporal aspect of space-time
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DOI 10.1007/BF00540142
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References found in this work BETA
John Earman (1970). Who's Afraid of Absolute Space? Australasian Journal of Philosophy 48 (3):287 – 319.

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Citations of this work BETA
Thomas Pashby (2015). Taking Times Out: Tense Logic as a Theory of Time. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 50:13-18.

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