Edited by Stephan Torre (University of Aberdeen)
|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 2007|
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