About this topic
Summary One of the central debates in the philosophy of time is between the A-theorists and the B-theorists. These unhelpful labels can be traced back to John McTaggart's distinction between the A-series and the B-series. The A-theory of time is typically associated with the idea that the present is metaphysically privileged or singled out in some way from past and future times. Furthermore, there is genuine flow of time as past events recede further and further into the past and future events move closer and closer to the present. The A-theorist holds that the properties of being past, being present and being future are fundamental to the nature of time. Presentism, the Growing Block Theory, and the Moving Spotlight Theory are all versions of the A-theory, providing different accounts of how the present is metaphysically distinguished. The B-theory of time, in contrast, denies that the present is metaphysically privileged over past and future times. Just as there is nothing metaphysically special about, say, London as opposed to Sydney, the B-theorist maintains that there is nothing metaphysically special about the present moment as opposed to, say, the year 1847 or 2157. 
Key works McTaggart introduces the A-series and the B-series in McTaggart 1908. Arthur Prior is one of the most important and influential A-theorists (see Prior 1968 and Prior 1967). Ned Markosian has done a great deal in formulating and defending the A-theory.  See his Markosian 1993 for one such defense. Dean Zimmerman provides an illuminating discussion of drawing the A-theory-B-theory distinction in Zimmerman 2005.
Introductions For good introductions to the A-theory of time, see Markosian 2010 and Zimmerman 2008
Related categories

241 found
1 — 50 / 241
  1. Agency and the A-Series.Roman Altshuler - 2009 - Southwest Philosophy Review 25 (1):153-161.
  2. Determinism, Indeterminism and the Flow of Time.Miloš Arsenijević - 2002 - Erkenntnis 56 (2):123 - 150.
    A set of axioms implicitly defining the standard, though not instant-based but interval-based, time topology is used as a basis to build a temporal modal logic of events. The whole apparatus contains neither past, present, and future operators nor indexicals, but only B-series relations and modal operators interpreted in the standard way. Determinism and indeterminism are then introduced into the logic of events via corresponding axioms. It is shown that, if determinism and indeterminism are understood in accordance with their core (...)
  3. Tense and Relativity.Andrew Bacon - 2018 - Noûs 52 (3):667-696.
    Those inclined to positions in the philosophy of time that take tense seriously have typically assumed that not all regions of space-time are equal: one special region of space-time corresponds to what is presently happening. When combined with assumptions from modern physics this has the unsettling consequence that the shape of this favored region distinguishes people in certain places or people traveling at certain velocities. In this paper I shall attempt to avoid this result by developing a tensed picture of (...)
  4. Time, Tense, and Thucydides.Egbert J. Bakker - 2007 - Classical World: A Quarterly Journal on Antiquity 100 (2):113-122.
  5. The Future of the Philosophy of Time.Adrian Bardon (ed.) - 2011 - Routledge.
    The last century has seen enormous progress in our understanding of time. This volume features original essays by the foremost philosophers of time discussing the goals and methodology of the philosophy of time, and examining the best way to move forward with regard to the field's core issues. The collection is unique in combining cutting edge work on time with a focus on the big picture of time studies as a discipline. The major questions asked include: What are the implications (...)
  6. A Companion to the Philosophy of Time.Adrian Bardon & Heather Dyke (eds.) - 2013 - Wiley-Blackwell.
  7. The Physics of Time: Block Universe or Flow of Time?Stefan Bauberger - 2005 - Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 61 (1):61 - 72.
    It has been advocated that Einstein's theory of special relativity implies a view of the universe as a space-time-block (block universe). Accordingly the flow of time is only a subjective and unreal phenomenon. An interpretation of the second law of thermodynamics leads to a completely different view, stating that the flow of time and the difference between past and present are fundamental phenomena. This article argues that this view has priority over the view of the block universe. /// Segundo o (...)
  8. Tense and Truth Conditions.Michelle Beer - 2010 - Philosophia 38 (2):265-269.
    The B-theory of time holds that McTaggart’s A-series of past, present, and future is reducible to the B-series of events running from earlier to later. According to the date-theory—originally put forth by J.J.C. Smart and later endorsed by by D.H. Mellor—the truth conditions of tensed or Asentence-tokens can be given in terms of tenseless or B-sentences and, therefore, A-sentence-tokens do not ascribe any A-determinations of pastness, presentness, or futurity. However, as Nathan Oaklander has argued, the date-theory does not provide an (...)
  9. On the Individual Essences of Moments of Time.Michelle Beer - 2007 - Philo 10 (1):69-71.
    In “Can the New Tenseless Theory of Time be Saved by Individual Essences?” Smith objects to the co-reporting theory on the groundsthat, since it grants that every time “now” is tokened it expresses a unique individual essence of that time which can be apprehended only at that time, the co-reporting theory is consistent with an A-theory of time that holds that each moment of time acquires its own particular property of presentness. I argue that Smith’s conclusion does not follow, since (...)
  10. The Causal Efficiency of the Passage of Time.Jiri Benovsky - 2012 - Philosophia 40 (4):763-769.
    Does mere passage of time have causal powers ? Are properties like "being n days past" causally efficient ? A pervasive intuition among metaphysicians seems to be that they don't. Events and/or objects change, and they cause or are caused by other events and/or objects; but one does not see how just the mere passage of time could cause any difference in the world. In this paper, I shall discuss a case where it seems that mere passage of time does (...)
  11. Time as Motion.Emiliano Boccardi - 2018 - Metaphysica 19 (1):1-31.
    The arena of the philosophy of time has been largely concerned with deciding whether tense distinctions reflect absolute metaphysical distinctions or not. After bringing the debate over the metaphysical status of instantaneous velocity to bear on the debate over the nature of temporal passage, I argue that we should further investigate whether aspectual distinctions reflect objective and absolute metaphysical distinctions too. I conclude that those who think that being realist about tense uniquely makes room for the idea that time passes (...)
  12. Turning the Tables on McTaggart.Emiliano Boccardi - 2018 - Philosophy (3):1-16.
    According to A-theories of time, the metaphysical ground of change and dynamicity is provided by a continuous shifting in which events are past, present and future (A-determinations). It is often claimed that these theories make better sense of our experience of dynamicity than their rival, the B-theories; according to the latter, dynamicity is grounded solely in the irreducible earlier-than relations (B-relations) which obtain between events or states of affairs. In this paper, I argue that the experience of time's dynamicity, on (...)
  13. The Passage of Time and its Enemies: An Introduction to Time and Reality II.Emiliano Boccardi - 2017 - Manuscrito: Revista Internacional de Filosofía 40 (1):5-41.
    This essay is a critical introduction to the second part of the special issue Time and Reality. The volume contains responses to papers appeared in the first part, as well as many original articles. The aim of this introduction is to frame these works within the general arena of the philosophy of time, highlighting a number of recurrent themes. A central theme that emerges is a difficulty in pinning down the ontological structure underlying dynamicity and passage without postulating a primitive (...)
  14. Review: Time, Tense, and Reference. [REVIEW]C. Bourne - 2005 - Mind 114 (455):747-750.
  15. When Am I? A Tense Time for Some Tense Theorists?C. Bourne - 2002 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 80 (3):359 – 371.
  16. Becoming Inflated.Craig Bourne - 2004 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (1):107-119.
    Some have thought that the process of the expansion of the universe can be used to define an absolute ‘cosmic time’ which then serves as the absolute time required by tensed theories of time. Indeed, this is the very reason why many tense theorists are happy to concede that special relativity is incompatible with the tense thesis, because they think that general relativity, which trumps special relativity, and on which modern cosmology rests, supplies the means of defining temporal becoming using (...)
  17. Eternal God: Divine Atemporality in Thomas Aquinas.John H. Boyer - 2014 - In Darci N. Hill (ed.), News from the Raven: Essays from Sam Houston State University on Medieval and Renaissance Thought. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: pp. 262-285.
    The recent trend among many philosophers of religion has been to interpret divine eternity as an everlasting temporality in which an omnitemporal God exists in and throughout the whole of time. This is in contrast to the classical account of divine eternity as atemporal, immutable existence. In this paper, Aquinas' use of Boethius's definition of eternity as “the whole, perfect, and simultaneous possession of endless life” is analyzed and explained in contradistinction to Aristotle's definition of time. This analysis is then (...)
  18. 10. Fighting the Zombie of the Growing Salami1.David Braddon-Mitchell - 2013 - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 8:351.
  19. How Do We Know It is Now Now?David Braddon-Mitchell - 2004 - Analysis 64 (3):199–203.
  20. Scientific Thought.C. D. Broad - 1923 - Routledge and Kegan Paul.
    First published in 2000. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
  21. Tensed Relations.Berit Brogaard - 2006 - Analysis 66 (3):194-202.
  22. Beyond “Beyond a- and B-Time”.Mikel Burley - 2006 - Philosophia 34 (4):411-416.
    This Article critically discusses Clifford Williams’ claim that the A-theory and B-theory of time are indistinguishable. I examine three considerations adduced by Williams to support his claim that the concept of time essentially includes transition as well as extension, and argue that, despite its prima facie plausibility, the claim has not been adequately justified. Williams therefore begs the question against the B-theorist, who denies that transition is essential. By Williams’ own lights, he ought to deny that the B-theory is a (...)
  23. Seeing the Present.J. Butterfield - 1984 - Mind 93 (370):161-176.
  24. Dummett on Temporal Operators.J. Butterfield - 1984 - Philosophical Quarterly 34 (134):31-42.
  25. Seeing the Present.Jeremy Butterfield - 1998 - In Robin Le Poidevin (ed.), Mind. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 161-176.
  26. Shedding Light on Time.Craig Callender - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (3):599.
    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 (...)
  27. How Can You Know You 'Re Present?'.Ross Cameron - manuscript
  28. The Moving Spotlight: An Essay on Time and Ontology.Ross P. Cameron - 2015 - Oxford University Press.
    Ross P. Cameron argues that the flow of time is a genuine feature of reality. He suggests that the best version of the A-Theory is a version of the Moving Spotlight view, according to which past and future beings are real, but there is nonetheless an objectively privileged present. Cameron argues that the Moving Spotlight theory should be viewed as having more in common with Presentism than with the B-Theory. Furthermore, it provides the best account of truthmakers for claims about (...)
  29. Proposition and Tense.James Cargile - 1999 - Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 40 (2):250-257.
    McTaggart assumed (1) that propositions cannot change in truth value and (2) if (a) there is real change, then (b) events must acquire the absolute property of being present and then lose this property. He held that {1,2b} is an inconsistent set and thus inferred 2a--that there is no real change. The B theory rejects 2 and the A theory rejects 1. I accept 1, 2, 2a, and consequently, 2b, and argue that this is consistent. There is an absolute property (...)
  30. Other Times: Philosophical Perspectives on Past, Present and Future.David Cockburn - 1997 - Cambridge University Press.
    We view things from a certain position in time: in our language, thought, feelings and actions, we draw distinctions between what has happened, is happening, and will happen. Frequently, approaches to this feature of our lives - those seen in disputes between tensed and tenseless theories, between realist and anti-realist treatments of past and future, and in accounts of historical knowledge - embody serious misunderstandings of the character of the issues; they misconstrue the relation between metaphysics and ethics, and the (...)
  31. The Problem of the Past.David Cockburn - 1987 - Philosophical Quarterly 37 (146):54-77.
  32. Earlier and Later If and Only If Past, Present and Future.Denis Corish - 2011 - Philosophy 86 (1):41-58.
    To prove the equivalence one must start with one side, and the earlier-later side seems, for starting with, logically the clearer. The equivalence is provable on reasonable definitions of ‘past’, ‘present’ and ‘future’ in terms of the earlier-later structure of time. McTaggart's attempted distinction between the past-present-future A series and the earlier-later B series, as though they were rivals for the structure of time, is based on an unexamined, and false, assumption. The equivalence shows they are not rivals; they are (...)
  33. Presentism Without Presentness.Fabrice Correia & Sven Rosenkranz - 2015 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 4 (1):19-27.
    We argue that presentism, understood as a view about time and existence, can perspicuously be defined in opposition to all other familiar contenders without appeal to any notion of presentness or cognate notions such as concreteness. Given recent worries about the suitability of such notions to cut much metaphysical ice, this should be welcomed by presentism's defenders. We also show that, irrespective of its sparse ideology, the proposed formulation forestalls any deviant interpretation at odds with the view it aims to (...)
  34. Philoponus's Traversal Argument and the Beginning of Time.Spyridon George Couvalis - 2013 - Modern Greek Studies (Australia and New Zealand) (Special Issue):68-78.
  35. On Truth Conditions of Tensed Sentence Types.W. L. Craig - 1999 - Synthese 120 (2):265-270.
  36. Tense and Temporal Relations.William Craig - 2001 - American Philosophical Quarterly 38 (1):85 - 97.
  37. Wishing It Were Now Some Other Time.William Lane Craig - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62 (1):159-166.
    One of the most serious obstacles to accepting a tenseless view of time is the challenge posed by our experience of tense. A particularly striking example of such experience, pointed out by Schlesinger but largely overlooked in the literature, is the wish felt by probably all of us at some time or other that it were now some other time. Such a wish seems evidently rational to hold, and yet on a tenseless theory of time such a wish must be (...)
  38. The Tensed Theory of Time : A Critical Examination.William Lane Craig - 2000 - Kluwer Academic.
    In this book and the companion volume The Tenseless Theory of Time: A Critical Examination, Craig undertakes the first thorough appraisal of the arguments for and against the tensed and tenseless theories of time.
  39. Tensed Time and Our Differential Experience of the Past and Future.William Lane Craig - 1998 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 37 (4):515-537.
  40. The Tensed Vs. Tenseless Theory of Time: A Watershed for the Conception of Divine Eternity.William Lane Craig - 1998 - In Robin Le Poidevin (ed.), Questions of Time and Tense. Oxford University Press.
  41. Is Presentness a Property?William Lane Craig - 1997 - American Philosophical Quarterly 34 (1):27 - 40.
  42. Review of Kit Fine, Modality and Tense: Philosophical Papers[REVIEW]Thomas Crisp - 2006 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2006 (8).
  43. Review of L. Nathan Oaklander, The Ontology of Time[REVIEW]Thomas Crisp - 2005 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2005 (3).
  44. McTaggart at the Movies.Gregory Currie - 1992 - Philosophy 67 (261):343 - 355.
    I shall argue that cinematic images do not have tense: not, at least, in the sense that has been ascribed to them by film theorists. This does not abolish time in cinema, for there can be temporal relations without tense, and temporal relations between cinematic images can indicate temporal relations between events depicted. But the dispensability of tense will require us to rethink our assumptions about what is sometimes called anachrony in cinema: the reordering of story-time by narrative, of which (...)
  45. A Critical Introduction to the Metaphysics of Time.Benjamin L. Curtis & Jon Robson - 2016 - Bloomsbury Academic.
    What is the nature of time? Does it flow? Do the past and future exist? Drawing connections between historical and present-day questions, A Critical Introduction to the Metaphysics of Time provides an up-to-date guide to one of the most central and debated topics in contemporary metaphysics. Introducing the views and arguments of Parmenides, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Newton and Leibniz, this accessible introduction covers the history of the philosophy of time from the Pre-Socratics to the beginning of the 20th Century. The (...)
  46. The Unique Groundability of Temporal Facts.John Cusbert & Kristie Miller - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 97 (2):410-432.
    The A-theory and the B-theory advance competing claims about how time is grounded. The A-theory says that A-facts are more fundamental in grounding time than are B-facts, and the B-theory says the reverse. We argue that whichever theory is true of the actual world is also true of all possible worlds containing time. We do this by arguing that time is uniquely groundable: however time is actually grounded, it is necessarily grounded in that way. It follows that if either the (...)
  47. Philosophical Arguments Against the A-Theory.Daniel Deasy - 2018 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 99 (2):270-292.
    According to the A-theory of time some instant of time is absolutely present. Many reject the A-theory on the grounds that it is inconsistent with current spacetime physics, which appears to leave no room for absolute presentness. However, some reject the A-theory on purely philosophical grounds. In this article I describe three purely philosophical arguments against the A-theory and show that there are plausible A-theoretic responses to each of them. I conclude that, whatever else is wrong with the A-theory, it (...)
  48. What is Presentism?Daniel Deasy - 2017 - Noûs 51 (2):378-397.
    Different versions of the A-theory of time are traditionally defined in terms of whether everything is present, or whether there are also past and future things. In this paper I argue that the traditional way of defining A-theories should be abandoned. I focus on the traditional definition of presentism, according to which always, everything is present. First, I argue that there are good reasons to reject all the most plausible interpretations of the predicate ‘is present’ as it appears in the (...)
  49. The Moving Spotlight Theory.Daniel Deasy - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (8):2073-2089.
    The aim of this paper is to describe and defend the moving spotlight theory of time. I characterise the moving spotlight theory as the conjunction of two theses: permanentism, the thesis that everything exists forever, and the A-theory, the thesis that there is an absolute, objective present time. I begin in Sect. 2 by clearing up some common misconceptions about the moving spotlight theory, focusing on the discussion of the theory in Sider. In doing so, I also fill-out the barebones (...)
  50. Time, Metaphysics Of.Natalja Deng - forthcoming - Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Metaphysics is the part of philosophy that asks questions about the nature of reality – about what there is, and what it is like. The metaphysics of time is the part of the philosophy of time that asks questions about the nature of temporal reality. One central such question is that of whether time passes or flows, or whether it has a dynamic aspect.
1 — 50 / 241