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.
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  1. 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 (...)
  2. Book Review:Temporal Relations and Temporal Becoming: A Defense of a Russellian Theory of Time L. Nathan Oaklander. [REVIEW]Richard T. W. Arthur - 1987 - Philosophy of Science 54 (1):142-.
  3. Times of Our Lives: Negotiating the Presence of Experience.Yuri Balashov - 2005 - American Philosophical Quarterly 42 (4):295 - 309.
    On the B-theory of time, the experiences we have throughout our conscious lives have the same ontological status: they all tenselessly occur at their respective dates. But we do not seem to experience all of them on the same footing. In fact, we tend to believe that only our present experiences are real, to the exclusion of the past and future ones. The B-theorist has to maintain that this belief is an illusion and explain the origin of the illusion. The (...)
  4. 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 (...)
  5. A Companion to the Philosophy of Time.Adrian Bardon & Heather Dyke (eds.) - 2013 - Wiley-Blackwell.
  6. 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 (...)
  7. 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 (...)
  8. Prior's' Thank Goodness That's Over'Objection to the B-Theory.Michelle Beer - 2008 - In L. Nathan Oaklander (ed.), The Philosophy of Time. Routledge.
  9. A Defense of the Co-Reporting Theory of Tensed and Tenseless Essences.Michelle Beer - 2007 - Philo 10 (1):59-65.
    The co-reporting theory holds that for every A-sentence-token there is a B-sentence that differs in sense but reports the same event orstate of affairs. Thus, if it is now t7, what is reported by now tokening “It is t7 now” is identical with what is reported by tokening “It is t7 at t7.” Quentin Smith has argued that the fact that the sentence-tokens differ in sense but are co-reporting is compatible with the A-theory supposition that their difference in sense consists (...)
  10. Temporal Indexicals and the B-Theory of Time.Michelle Clara Marthe Beer - 1981 - Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh
    Several versions of the Reduction Thesis, which holds that A-determinations of events are reducible to B-relations of succession and simultaneity, are explored and critically evaluated. In particular, various theories of meaning and reference--which have recently been put forth by Keith Donnellan, Robert Stalnaker, Alvin Plantinga, Saul Kripke, and John Perry--are employed for the purpose of mounting a reduction of A-determinations to B-relations. After finding the more traditional versions of the Reduction Thesis to be wanting, a new version of the Reduction (...)
  11. Indeterminism and the Thin Red Line.Nuel Belnap & Mitchell Green - 1994 - Philosophical Perspectives 8:365 - 388.
  12. 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 (...)
  13. 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 (...)
  14. If It Ain’T Moving It Shall Not Be Moved.Emiliano Boccardi - 2015 - Topoi 34 (1):171-185.
    There are two no-change objections that can be raised against the B-theory of time. One stems from the observation that in a B-theoretic scenario changes of determinations can only be represented by propositions which have eternal truth values. The other derives from the principle that nothing can vary over a period of time if it doesn’t instantiate a state of change at all the instants of time which compose it. Here I argue that both objections apply to all comparative conceptions (...)
  15. How Do We Know It is Now Now?David Braddon-Mitchell - 2004 - Analysis 64 (3):199–203.
  16. Tensed Sentences.Stephen Edward Braude - 1971 - Dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  17. Aquinas On Eternity, Tense, And Temporal Becoming.Andrew Brenner - 2010 - Florida Philosophical Review 10 (1):16-24.
    Thomas Aquinas, along with many other medieval philosophers, believed that God is timeless. Aquinas’s treatment of this doctrine seems to imply a view of time that some commentators have noticed is inescapably tenseless, what we would now call a “B-theory” view of time. This is problematic because Aquinas also seems to affirm that tense and temporal becoming are real, implying that what we would now call an “A-theory” of time is correct. In this essay I attempt to adjudicate this apparent (...)
  18. Tensed Relations.Berit Brogaard - 2006 - Analysis 66 (3):194-202.
  19. The Subjectivity of Time.Marty A. Bullis - 2002 - Dissertation, The Claremont Graduate University
    The commonsense understanding of time typically has the following characteristics: time appears to flow, perceived and objective rates of temporal passage may differ, time and change are related, and the past is fixed , the present fleeting, and the future open. I call this the "pre-theoretic understanding of time." This dissertation compares the pre-theoretic understanding with a number of philosophical theories that attempt to explain temporal perception and temporal language. I argue that once philosophical considerations are taken into account, any (...)
  20. Questions About Time: Time and its Subjective Foundations.Richard A. Burbank - 2011 - Richard A. Burbank.
  21. Should a B-Theoretic Atheist Fear Death?Mikel Burley - 2008 - Ratio 21 (3):260-272.
    This article discusses Robin Le Poidevin's proposal that a commitment to the B-theory of time provides atheists with a reason to relinquish the fear of death. For the purposes of the article, I grant Le Poidevin's assertion that the B-theory gives us a sense in which our lives are 'eternally real'; but I deny that the B-theorist is entitled to regard this as sufficient to furnish a reason to cease fearing death. This is because, according to the most prevalent B-theoretic (...)
  22. The B-Theory of Time and the Fear of Death.Mikel Burley - 2008 - Polish Journal of Philosophy 2 (2):21-38.
    This paper discusses Robin Le Poidevin’s proposal that a commitment to the B-theory of time provides a reason to relinquish the fear of death. After outlining Le Poidevin’s views on time and death, I analyze the specific passages in which he makes his proposal, giving close attention to the claim that, for the B-theorist, one’s life is “eternally real.” I distinguish two possible interpretations of this claim, which I call alethic eternalism and ontic eternalism respectively, and argue, with reference to (...)
  23. 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 (...)
  24. 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 (...)
  25. 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 (...)
  26. 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 (...)
  27. Eternal Facts in an Ageing Universe.Fabrice Correia & Sven Rosenkranz - 2012 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (2):307 - 320.
    In recent publications, Kit Fine devises a classification of A-theories of time and defends a non-standard A-theory he calls fragmentalism, according to which reality as a whole is incoherent but fragments into classes of mutually coherent tensed facts. We argue that Fine's classification in not exhaustive, as it ignores another non-standard A-theory we dub dynamic absolutism, according to which there are tensed facts that stay numerically the same and yet undergo qualitative changes as time goes by. We expound this theory (...)
  28. 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 (...)
  29. 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.
  30. Tense and the New B-Theory Of.William Lane Craig - 1996 - Philosophy 71:5.
  31. The New B-Theory's Tu Quoque Argument.William Lane Craig - 1996 - Synthese 107 (2):249 - 269.
  32. Tense and the New B-Theory of Language.William Lane Craig - 1996 - Philosophy 71 (275):5 - 26.
    New B-Theorists of language, while conceding the untranslatability of tensed sentences by tenseless sentences, deny that the ineliminability of tense implies the reality of tensed facts. Thus, New BTheorist Nathan Oaklander explains, For a variety of reasons, ... recent defenders of the tenseless view have come to embrace the thesis that tensed sentences cannot be translated by tenseless ones without loss of meaning. Nevertheless, recent detensers have denied that the ineliminability of tensed language and thought entails the reality of temporal (...)
  33. Was Thomas Aquinas a B-Theorist of Time?William Lane Craig - 1985 - New Scholasticism 59 (4):475-483.
  34. Review of L. Nathan Oaklander, The Ontology of Time[REVIEW]Thomas Crisp - 2005 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2005 (3).
  35. Duns Scotus on Eternity and Timelessness.Richard Cross - 1997 - Faith and Philosophy 14 (1):3-25.
    Scotus consistently holds that eternity is to be understood as timelessness. In his early Lectura, he criticizes Aquinas’ account of eternity on the grounds that (1) it entails collapsing past and future into the present, and (2) it entails a B-theory of time, according to which past, present and future are all ontologically on a par with each other. Scotus later comes to accept something like Aquinas’ account of God’s timelessness and the B-theory of time which it entails. Scotus also (...)
  36. 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 (...)
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
  39. Fine's Mctaggart, Temporal Passage, and the a Versus B‐Debate.Natalja Deng - 2013 - Ratio 26 (1):19-34.
    I offer an interpretation and a partial defense of Kit Fine's ‘Argument from Passage’, which is situated within his reconstruction of McTaggart's paradox. Fine argues that existing A-theoretic approaches to passage are no more dynamic, i.e. capture passage no better, than the B-theory. I argue that this comparative claim is correct. Our intuitive picture of passage, which inclines us towards A-theories, suggests more than coherent A-theories can deliver. In Finean terms, the picture requires not only Realism about tensed facts, but (...)
  40. Our Experience of Passage on the B-Theory.Natalja Deng - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (4):713-726.
    Elsewhere I have suggested that the B-theory includes a notion of passage, by virtue of including succession. Here, I provide further support for that claim by showing that uncontroversial elements of the B-theory straightforwardly ground a veridical sense of passage. First, I argue that the B-theory predicts that subjects of experience have a sense of passivity with respect to time that they do not have with respect to space, which they are right to have, even according to the B-theory. I (...)
  41. On Explaining Why Time Seems to Pass.Natalja Deng - 2013 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 51 (3):367-382.
    Usually, the B-theory of time is taken to involve the claim that time does not, in reality, pass; after all, on the B-theory, nothing really becomes present and then more and more past, times do not come into existence successively, and which facts obtain does not change. For this reason, many B-theorists have recently tried to explain away one or more aspect(s) of experience that they and their opponents take to constitute an experience of time as passing. In this paper, (...)
  42. 'Beyond A- and B-Time' Reconsidered.Natalja Deng - 2010 - Philosophia 38 (4):741-753.
    This article is a response to Clifford Williams’s claim that the debate between A- and B theories of time is misconceived because these theories do not differ. I provide some missing support for Williams’s claim that the B-theory includes transition, by arguing that representative B-theoretic explanations for why we experience time as passing (even though it does not) are inherently unstable. I then argue that, contra Williams, it does not follow that there is nothing at stake in the A- versus (...)
  43. Transience and Identity.Arda Denkel - 1999 - The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 1999:153-160.
    Mellor’s theory of time includes the doctrines that (a) objectively, time does not embody tense or temporal properties other than those contained in the B-series, (b) particular objects are endurers, and (c) objectively, time does not flow. I show that these theses cannot all be true together, and that one must be rejected. Since (a) is basic to Mellor’s approach, then assuming that he would not adopt a perdurantist ontology, it follows that he should give up (c). Denying (c), however, (...)
  44. 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 (...)
  45. 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 (...)
  46. B-Theory, Fixity, and Fatalism.Joseph Diekemper - 2007 - Noûs 41 (3):429–452.
  47. The Ontology of Spacetime.Dennis Geert Bernardus Johan Dieks (ed.) - 2006 - Elsevier.
    This book contains selected papers from the First International Conference on the Ontology of Spacetime. Its fourteen chapters address two main questions: first, what is the current status of the substantivalism/relationalism debate, and second, what about the prospects of presentism and becoming within present-day physics and its philosophy? The overall tenor of the four chapters of the book’s first part is that the prospects of spacetime substantivalism are bleak, although different possible positions remain with respect to the ontological status of (...)
  48. The Tenseless Theory of Time: Insights and Limitations.Yuval Dolev - 2000 - Review of Metaphysics 54 (2):259 - 288.
  49. Time From the Metaphysical and Anti-Metaphysical Viewpoints.Yuval Dolev - 1997 - Dissertation, Harvard University
    The idea that the present is "ontologically privileged" can be traced back to texts as early as St. Augustine's Confessions and Aristotle's Physics. The issue of the ontological status of tense continues to set the agenda in contemporary philosophy of time, which is dominated by two views. Proponents of the Tenseless View argue that all events are, in the timeless sense of 'are', equally real. Defenders of the rival Tensed View maintain that only present events are real, and that the (...)
  50. Tenseless/Non-Modal Truthmakers for Tensed/Modal Truths.Heather Dyke - 2007 - Logique Et Analyse 199:269-287.
    There is a common approach to metaphysical disputes, which takes language as its starting point, and leads to a view about the range of acceptable metaphysical positions in any such dispute. I argue that this approach rests on accepting what I call the Strong Linguistic Thesis (SLT). In the metaphysical debate about time I argue that the new B-theory has rejected SLT, and for good reasons. The metaphysical debate about modality parallels the early metaphysical debate about time. I argue that (...)
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