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.  According to the B-theory of time, the present is not metaphysically distinguished in any way from 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. Some B-theorists deny that time really flows or passes, while others argue that passage can be accommodated within a framework where all times are metaphysically on par. The A-theory of time, in contrast, maintains that the present is metaphysically privileged in some way and the properties of being past, being present and being future are fundamental to the nature of time.
Key works Two classic papers presenting and defending the B-theory of time are Williams 1951 and Smart 1963. D. H. Mellor is one of the most influential defenders of the B-theory. See his Mellor 1981 and Mellor 1998.  An important collection of papers defending the B-theory is Oaklander & Smith 1994.
Introductions For good introductions to the B-theory of time, see Markosian 2010 and Smart 2008.
Related categories

238 found
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  1. added 2018-12-08
    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 (...)
  2. added 2018-11-28
    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 (...)
  3. added 2018-11-22
    The Elusive Appearance of Time.Ingthorsson Rögnvaldur & Ingthorsson Rögnvaldur Dadi - 2013 - In Christer Svennerlind, Jan Almäng & Rögnvaldur Ingthorsson (eds.), Johanssonian Investigations. Ontos Verlag.
    In this paper I explain why philosophers have thought that the primary feature of our experience of time is that it is tensed and transitory, offer some reasons to doubt that time appears to us primarily in that way, and suggest instead that the main component of our experience of a temporal reality is of enduring objects in flux.
  4. added 2018-09-26
    The Elements and Patterns of Being: Essays in Metaphysics.A. R. J. Fisher (ed.) - 2018 - Oxford University Press.
    Donald C. Williams was a key figure in the development of analytic philosophy. This book will be the definitive source for his highly original work, which did much to bring metaphysics back into fashion. It presents six classic papers and six previously unpublished, revealing his full philosophical vision for the first time.
  5. added 2018-07-29
    Too Many Conceptions of Time? McTaggart's Views Revisited.Gregor Schiemann & Brigitte Falkenburg - 2016 - In Stamatios Gerogiorgaki (ed.), Time and Tense (Basic Philosophical Concepts).
    John Ellis McTaggart defended an idealistic view of time in the tradition of Hegel and Bradley. His famous paper makes two independent claims (McTaggart1908): First, time is a complex conception with two different logical roots. Second, time is unreal. To reject the second claim seems to commit to the first one, i.e., to a pluralistic account of time. We compare McTaggarts views to the most important concepts of time investigated in physics, neurobiology, and philosophical phenomenology. They indicate that a unique, (...)
  6. added 2018-06-29
    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.
  7. added 2018-06-04
    Gibt es eine objektive Gegenwart?: Zur Metaphysik der Zeit.Dietmar Hübner - 2009 - Philosophisches Jahrbuch 116 (2):269-293.
    Since J. McTaggart’s paper on “The Unreality of Time” the opposition of “A-theorists” and “B-theorists” establishes a focal point in the modern debate on the metaphysics of time: While “A-theorists” claim the existence of an objective present, moving along time positions, “B-theorists” maintain that time is just a set of ontologically equivalent coordinates, “now” being merely the indexical of the speaker’s position. Contemporary attempts to resolve the issue by resorting to the analysis of language or to the theory of science (...)
  8. added 2018-05-23
    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 (...)
  9. added 2018-04-09
    Can Things Endure in Tenseless Time.Rögnvaldur Ingthorsson - 2009 - SATS 10 (1):79-99.
    It has been argued that the tenseless view of time is incompatible with endurantism. This has been disputed, perhaps most famously by Hugh Mellor and Peter Simons. They argue that things can endure in tenseless time, and indeed must endure if tenseless time is to contain change. In this paper I will point out some difficulties with Mellor’s and Simons’ claims that in tenseless time a particular can be ‘wholly present’ at various times, and therefore endure, as well as have (...)
  10. added 2018-03-28
    The Temporal Knowledge Argument 2.Paul Merriam - manuscript
    How does the temporal knowledge argument fair when exposed to Chalmers' 2-dimensional analysis of the knowledge argument?
  11. added 2018-03-27
    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. added 2018-03-21
    Time Flows at 1 B-Second Per A-Second.Paul Merriam - manuscript
  13. added 2018-03-05
    Replies to Deng, Lee, and Skow.Simon Prosser - 2018 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 61 (3):328-350.
    This paper is a contribution to a book symposium on my book Experiencing Time. I reply to comments on the book by Natalja Deng, Geoffrey Lee and Bradford Skow. Although several chapters of the book are discussed, the main focus of my reply is on Chapters 2 and 6. In Chapter 2 I argue that the putative mind-independent passage of time could not be experienced, and from this I develop an argument against the A-theory of time. In Chapter 6 I (...)
  14. added 2018-02-18
    Can Beliefs Be Caused by Their Truth-Makers?Robin Le Poidevin - 1999 - Analysis 59 (3):148-156.
  15. added 2018-02-17
    B-Time: A Reply to Tallant.L. Nathan Oaklander & V. Alan White - 2007 - Analysis 67 (4):332-340.
  16. added 2018-02-16
    Smith On Times And Tokens.Joshua M. Mozersky - 2001 - Synthese 129 (3):405-411.
    In this essay I respond to Quentin Smith's charge that 'the date-analysis version of the tenseless theory of time cannot give adequate accounts of the truth conditions of the statements made by tensed sentence-tokens'. His argument is based on an analysis of certain counterfactual situations that is at odds with the date-analysis account of language and hence succeeds only in begging the question against that theory. To anticipate: his argument fails if one allows that temporal indexicals such as 'now' rigidly (...)
  17. added 2018-02-14
    Carnap’s Logic of Science and Reference to the Present Moment.Florian Fischer - 2016 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 30 (2):61-90.
    The important switch from the so-called old B-theory to the new tenseless theory of time (NTT), which had significant implications for the field of tense and indexicals, occurred after Carnap’s era. Against this new background, Carnap’s original inter-translatability thesis can no longer be upheld. The most natural way out would be to modify Carnap’s position according to the NTT; but this is not compatible with Carnap’s metaphysical neutrality thesis. Even worse, Carnap’s work on measurement theory can be used to develop (...)
  18. added 2018-02-14
    The Mind-Dependence of the Relational Structure of Time (Or: What Henri Bergson Would Say to B-Theorists).Sonja Deppe - 2016 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 30 (2):107-124.
    Tenseless theorists assert that the relational structure of earlier/later is the essential structure of time. Using B-notions, so they think, we speak about time ‘as it is’ in a metaphysical sense and hence from the outside of our subjective perspective on it. I suggest on the contrary that the relational structure of earlier/later is part of our own intellectual structuring within the access to temporal phenomena. Furthermore it is essentially characterized by the structure of juxtaposition which originates in spatial experience (...)
  19. added 2018-02-12
    On ‘Experiencing Time’: A Response to Simon Prosser.Natalja Deng - 2018 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 61 (3):281-301.
    In his recent book ‘Experiencing time’, Simon Prosser discusses a wide variety of topics relating to temporal experience, in a way that is accessible both to those steeped in the philosophy of mind, and to those more familiar with the philosophy of time. He forcefully argues for the conclusion that the B-theorist of time can account for the temporal appearances. In this article, I offer a chapter by chapter response.
  20. added 2018-01-09
    Thank Goodness That’s Newcomb: The Practical Relevance of the Temporal Value Asymmetry.Christian Tarsney - 2017 - Analysis 77 (4):750-759.
    I describe a thought experiment in which an agent must choose between suffering a greater pain in the past or a lesser pain in the future. This case demonstrates that the ‘temporal value asymmetry’ – our disposition to attribute greater significance to future pleasures and pains than to past – can have consequences for the rationality of actions as well as attitudes. This fact, I argue, blocks attempts to vindicate the temporal value asymmetry as a useful heuristic tied to the (...)
  21. added 2017-12-30
    Experiencing Time. [REVIEW]Kourken Michaelian - 2018 - Philosophical Quarterly 68 (272):642-644.
  22. added 2017-03-22
    Do We Really Experience Temporal Passage? [REVIEW]Rognvaldur Ingthorsson - 2017 - Metascience 26 (2):263-266.
  23. added 2017-02-13
    Time: Language, Cognition & Reality.Kasia M. Jaszczolt & Louis de Saussure (eds.) - 2013 - Oxford University Press.
    Linguists and philosophers examine the representation of temporal reference; the interaction of the temporal information from tense, aspect, modality, and context; and the representation of the temporal relations between facts, events, states, propositions, and utterances. They link this to current research in psychology and anthropology.
  24. added 2017-02-10
    Questions About Time: Time and its Subjective Foundations.Richard A. Burbank - 2011 - Richard A. Burbank.
  25. added 2017-01-28
    Tensed Sentences.Stephen Edward Braude - 1971 - Dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  26. added 2017-01-27
    Semantics, Tense, and Time: A Note on Tenseless Truth-Conditions for Token-Reflexive Tensed Sentences.Peter Ludlow - 1997 - ProtoSociology 10:191-196.
    According to a number of authors it is possible to give tenseless truth conditions for tensed sentences by utilizing token indexicals in something like the following fashion. An utterance u of 'Past S' is true iff at some time earlier than u, S is true An utterance u of 'Pres S' is true iff at some time overlapping u, S is true This strategy has been challenged on the grounds that it will break down in cases like. There was no (...)
  27. added 2017-01-19
    Review. Questions of Time and Tense. R le Poidevin [Ed].R. Teichmann - 1999 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 50 (4):781-786.
  28. added 2017-01-19
    The Date-Analysis of Tensed Sentences.Clifford Williams - 1992 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 70 (2):198 – 203.
    Advocates of the A-Theory of time argue that pastness, presentness and futurity are mind-independent properties of events on the grounds that tensed and tenseless sentences are not semantically equivalent. However, their arguments for semantic nonequivalence do not entail state of affairs nonequivalence, and this latter nonequivalence must also obtain in order for the A-Theory to be true. The situation is like arguing that hereness and thisness are extra, mind-independent properties of places and objects on the grounds that sentences in which (...)
  29. added 2017-01-17
    Real Time.D. H. Mellor - 1985 - Cambridge University Press.
    This is a study of the nature of time. In it, redeploying an argument first presented by McTaggart, the author argues that although time itself is real, tense is not. He accounts for the appearance of the reality of tense - our sense of the passage of time, and the fact that our experience occurs in the present - by showing how time is indispensable as a condition of action. Time itself is further analysed, and Dr Mellor gives answers to (...)
  30. added 2017-01-16
    Debates in the Metaphysics of Time Edited by L. Nathan Oaklander.Stephan Torre - 2016 - Analysis 76 (2):256-259.
  31. added 2017-01-16
    Tokens, Dates And Tenseless Truth Conditions.Heather Dyke - 2002 - Synthese 131 (3):329-351.
    There are two extant versions of the new tenseless theory of time: the date version and the token-reflexive version. I ask whether they are equivalent, and if not, which of them is to be preferred. I argue that they are not equivalent, that the date version is unsatisfactory, and that the token-reflexive version is correct. I defend the token-reflexive version against a string of objections from Quentin Smith. My defence involves a discussion of the ontological and semantic significance of truth (...)
  32. added 2016-12-12
    Truth-Conditions, Truth-Bearers and the New B-Theory of Time.Stephan Torre - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 142 (3):325-344.
    In this paper I consider two strategies for providing tenseless truth-conditions for tensed sentences: the token-reflexive theory and the date theory. Both theories have faced a number of objections by prominent A-theorists such as Quentin Smith and William Lane Craig. Traditionally, these two theories have been viewed as rival methods for providing truth-conditions for tensed sentences. I argue that the debate over whether the token-reflexive theory or the date theory is true has arisen from a failure to distinguish between conditions (...)
  33. added 2016-12-12
    What is It to “B” a Relation?Jonathan Tallant - 2008 - Synthese 162 (1):117-132.
    The purpose of this paper is two fold: first, I look to show Oaklander’s (The ontology of time. New York: Prometheus Books, 2004) theory of time to be false. Second, I show that the only way to salvage the B-theory is via the adopting of the causal theory of time, and allying this to Oaklander’s claim that tense is to be eliminated. I then raise some concerns with the causal theory of time. My conclusion is that, if one adopts eternalism, (...)
  34. added 2016-12-12
    Time, Tense and Causation.Quentin Smith & Michael Tooley - 1999 - Philosophical Review 108 (1):123.
  35. added 2016-12-08
    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 (...)
  36. added 2016-12-08
    The Tenseless Copula in Temporal Predication.Tobias Hansson Wahlberg - 2010 - Erkenntnis 72 (2):267-280.
    In this paper I explore how the tenseless copula is to be interpreted in sentences of the form “a is F at t”, where “a” denotes a persisting, changeable object, “F” stands for a prima facie intrinsic property and “t” for a B-time. I argue that the interpretation of the copula depends on the logical role assigned to the time clause. Having rejected the idea that the time clause is to be treated as a sentence operator, I argue: that if (...)
  37. added 2016-12-08
    A Tenseless Account of the Presence of Experience.J. M. Mozersky - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 129 (3):441-476.
    Tenseless theories of time entail that the only temporal properties exemplified by events are earlier than, simultaneous with, and later than. Such an account seems to conflict with our common experience of time, which suggests that the present moment is ontologically unique and that time flows. Some have argued that only a tensed account of time, one in which past, present and future are objective properties, can do justice to our experience. Any theory that claims that the world is different (...)
  38. added 2016-12-05
    A Companion to the Philosophy of Time.Adrian Bardon & Heather Dyke (eds.) - 2013 - Wiley-Blackwell.
  39. added 2016-12-03
    In Light of the Theory of Special Relativity is a Passage of Time and the Argument of the Presentist Untenable?Mekhi Dhesi - 2016 - Dissertation, University College London
    In light of the Special Theory of Relativity and the Minkowski creation of ‘spacetime’, the universe is taken to be a four-dimensional entity which postulates bodies as existing within a temporally extended reality. The Special Theory of Relativity’s implications liken the nature of the universe to a ‘block’ within which all events coexist equally in spacetime. Such a view strikes against the very essence of presentism, which holds that all that exists is the instantaneous state of objects in the present (...)
  40. added 2016-11-30
    Causation and Time Reversal.Matt Farr - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axx025.
    What would it be for a process to happen backwards in time? Would such a process involve different causal relations? It is common to understand the time reversal invariance of a physical theory in causal terms, such that whatever can happen forwards in time (according to the theory) can also happen backwards in time. This has led many to hold that time reversal symmetry is incompatible with the asymmetry of cause and effect. This paper critiques the causal reading of time (...)
  41. added 2016-09-21
    Reply to Sullivan.Timothy Williamson - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (4-5):759-765.
  42. added 2016-08-31
    Objective Becoming.Bradford Skow - 2015 - Oxford University Press UK.
    What does the passage of time consist in? There are some suggestive metaphors. âEvents approach us, pass us, and recede from us, like sticks and leaves floating on the river of time.â âWe are moving from the past into the future, like ships sailing into an unknown ocean.â There is surely something right and deep about these metaphors. But how close are they to the literal truth? In this book Bradford Skow argues that they are far from the literal truth. (...)
  43. added 2016-08-29
    Mctaggart’s Paradox.Rögnvaldur Ingthorsson - 2016 - Routledge.
    McTaggart’s argument for the unreality of time, first published in 1908, set the agenda for 20th-century philosophy of time. Yet there is very little agreement on what it actually says—nobody agrees with the conclusion, but still everybody finds something important in it. This book presents the first critical overview of the last century of debate on what is popularly called "McTaggart’s Paradox". Scholars have long assumed that McTaggart’s argument stands alone and does not rely on any contentious ontological principles. The (...)
  44. added 2016-03-01
    The Twins' Paradox and Temporal Passage.Kristie Miller - 2004 - Analysis 64 (3):203-206.
    In a recent paper in this journal, McCall and Lowe (2003) argue that an understanding of Special Relativity reveals that the A theorist’s notion of temporal passage is consistent with the B theory of time. They arrive at this conclusion by considering the twins’ paradox, where one of two twins (T) travels to Alpha Centauri and back and upon her return has aged 30 years, while her earth-bound twin (S) has aged 40 years.Does this reconcile the A theoretic notion of (...)
  45. added 2016-02-26
    The Elusive Appearance of Time.Rögnvaldur Ingthorsson - 2013 - In Christer Svennerlind, Jan Almäng & Rögnvaldur Ingthorsson (eds.), Johanssonian Investigations. Ontos Verlag. pp. 5--304.
    It is widely assumed that time appears to be tensed, i.e. divided into a future, present and past, and transitory, i.e. involving some kind of ‘flow’ or ‘passage’ of times or events from the future into the present and away into the distant past. In this paper I provide some reasons to doubt that time appears to be tensed and transitory, or at least that philosophers who have suggested that time appears to be that way have included in ‘appearance’ everything (...)
  46. added 2016-02-26
    Hur ska man förstå McTaggarts paradox?Rögnvaldur Ingthorsson - 2000 - Filosofisk Tidskrift 21 (3):13–24.
    I sitt berömda bevis för tidens overklighet påstod McTaggart att det sätt händelser tycks skifta position i tiden från framtid till nutid och till förfluten tid, innebär en motsägelse. Vad McTaggart egentligen menade har varit föremål för en livlig debatt ända sedan beviset först publicerades 1908. Beviset består av två delar. I den första argumenterar McTaggart för att ingenting kan förändras förutom genom att övergå från framtid till förfluten tid. I den andra argumenterar han för att en sådan övergång innebär (...)
  47. added 2015-11-23
    Relativity and Three Four‐Dimensionalisms.Cody Gilmore, Damiano Costa & Claudio Calosi - 2016 - Philosophy Compass 11 (2):102-120.
    Relativity theory is often said to support something called ‘the four-dimensional view of reality’. But there are at least three different views that sometimes go by this name. One is ‘spacetime unitism’, according to which there is a spacetime manifold, and if there are such things as points of space or instants of time, these are just spacetime regions of different sorts: thus space and time are not separate manifolds. A second is the B-theory of time, according to which the (...)
  48. added 2015-08-29
    Jokic on the Tensed Existence of Nature.L. Nathan Oaklander - 2003 - Philo 6 (2):211-215.
    In “The Tensed or Tensless Existence of Nature” Alexsander Jokic attempts to defend a new version A. N. Prior’s “Thank Goodness It’sOver” argument against my response to it. Jokic argues that we can give a non-circular account of ceasing to exist that will vindicate the new reading, but I argue that his account to rescue Prior’s argument against my criticism fails.
  49. added 2015-08-29
    LE POIDEVIN, R.-Questions of Time and Tense.R. M. Gale - 2000 - Philosophical Books 41 (4):273-274.
  50. added 2015-08-29
    Quentin Smith and L. Nathan Oaklander, Time, Change and Freedom: Introduction to Metaphysics.J. O'reilly - 1999 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 7 (1):139-140.
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