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Summary In a much discussed paper, John McTaggart argues that time is unreal. He argues for this surprising conclusion by claiming that two candidate ways of construing time are inadequate. McTaggart notes that we can order times according to whether they are past, present or future and by how far into the past or future they are. He calls this ordering of times the 'A-series'. He also notes that we can order times according to whether they are earlier than or later than one another. He calls this ordering of times the 'B-series'. He goes on to argue that time cannot be construed in terms of the A-series nor in terms of the B-series. From this he concludes that time must be unreal. His reason for thinking that the A-series is inadequate is because he thinks such an ordering leads to contradiction. He claims that the properties of being past, being present and being future are incompatible, yet each time would have to possess all three, which he deemed impossible. McTaggart claims that the B-series is also inadequate because it cannot account for change. If one time is earlier than another, then this fact holds eternally. However this eternal fact cannot accommodate the fact that what times are past, present and future changes from one moment to the next. McTaggart's argument for the unreality of time is, no doubt, highly controversial and has spurred a great deal of discussion in both trying to clarify it, as well as evaluate it.
Key works McTaggart's influential argument is presented in his McTaggart 1908. An important discussion of it can be found in chapter 7 of Mellor 1998. Several key works relating to McTaggart's argument can be found in Part 2 of Oaklander & Smith 1994.
Introductions Good overviews of McTaggart's argument are found in section 4 of Markosian 2010 and section 3 of McDaniel 2010.
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  1. added 2020-03-15
    On the Plurality of Times: Disunified Time and the A-Series.Ryan Nefdt - 2013 - South African Journal of Philosophy 32 (3):249-260.
    In this paper, I investigate the nature of the metaphysical possibility of disunified time. A possibility that I argue presents unique problems for those who adhere to a strict A-theory of time, particularly those A-theorists who propose a presentist view. The first part of the paper discusses various arguments against the coherence of the concept of disunified time. I attempt to discount each of these objections and show that disunified time is indeed a possible and consistent topology of time. Then, (...)
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  2. added 2020-02-20
    Dynamic Absolutism and Qualitative Change.Bahadır Eker - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-11.
    According to Fine’s famous take on the infamous McTaggartian paradox, realism about tensed facts is incompatible with the joint acceptence of three very general and seemingly plausible theses about reality. However, Correia and Rosenkranz have recently objected that Fine’s argument depends on a crucial assumption about the nature of tensed facts; once that assumption is given up, they claim, realists can endorse the theses in question without further ado. They also argue that their novel version of tense realism, called dynamic (...)
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  3. added 2020-01-31
    Aspects and the Alteration of Temporal Simples.Donald L. M. Baxter - 2016 - Manuscrito 39 (4):169-181.
    ABSTRACT According to David Lewis, alteration is "qualitative difference between temporal parts of something." It follows that moments, since they are simple and lack temporal parts, cannot alter from future to present to past. Here then is another way to put McTaggart's paradox about change in tense. I will appeal to my theory of Aspects to rebut the thought behind this rendition of McTaggart. On my theory, it is possible that qualitatively differing things be numerically identical. I call these differing, (...)
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  4. added 2020-01-18
    Mc Taggart and the Truth About Time.Heather Dyke - 2002 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 50:137-152.
    McTaggart famously argued that time is unreal. Today, almost no one agrees with his conclusion.1 But his argument remains the locus classicus for both the A–theory and the B-theory of time. I want to show how McTaggart's argument provided the impetus for both of these opposing views of the nature of time. I will also present and defend what I take to be the correct view of the nature of time.
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  5. added 2020-01-18
    The Concept of Time. [REVIEW]Phillip Bricker - 1997 - Philosophical Review 106 (4):629.
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  6. added 2019-11-06
    Time Series and Non-Reductive Physicalism.Matias Kimi Slavov - 2019 - KronoScope: Journal for the Study of Time 19 (1):25-38.
    McTaggart famously introduced the A- and B-series as rival metaphysical accounts of time. This paper shall reorient the debate over the original distinction. Instead of treating the series as competing theories about the nature of time, it will be argued that they are different viewpoints on a world that is fundamentally physical. To that end, non-reductive physicalism is proposed to reconcile the series.
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  7. added 2019-09-09
    Qu'est-ce que le temps ?Baptiste Le Bihan - 2019 - Paris: Vrin.
    La philosophie contemporaine du temps voit s’affronter deux conceptions du temps : celle du devenir qui identifie la réalité naturelle à un présent en constant renouvellement et celle de l’univers-bloc qui assimile la réalité naturelle à un espace-temps étendu dans quatre dimensions. Cette dernière approche implique notamment que les événements qui nous semblent passés et futurs sont tout aussi réels que les événements présents et que les êtres humains, bien que mortels, sont des êtres éternels. L’auteur défend cette théorie de (...)
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  8. added 2019-07-28
    Do the Folk Represent Time as Essentially Dynamical?Andrew James Latham, Kristie Miller & James Norton - manuscript
    Recent research (Latham, Miller and Norton, forthcoming) reveals that a majority of people represent actual time as dynamical. But do they, as suggested by McTaggart and Gödel, represent time as essentially dynamical? This paper distinguishes three interrelated questions. We ask (a) whether the folk representation of time is sensitive or insensitive: i.e., does what satisfies the folk representation of time in counterfactual worlds depend on what satisfies it actually—sensitive—or does is not depend on what satisfies it actually—insensitive, and (b) do (...)
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  9. added 2019-07-23
    From McTaggart to AdS_5 Geometry 2.Paul Merriam - manuscript
    The purpose of this note is to show how an 'AB-series' interpretation of time, given in a companion paper, leads, surprisingly, to AdS_5 geometry. This is not a theory of 2 time dimensions. Rather, it is a theory of 1 time dimension that has both A-series and B-series characteristics.
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  10. added 2019-07-09
    Real Time.David H. Sanford - 1984 - Philosophical Review 93 (2):289.
  11. added 2019-06-06
    Oaklander on McTaggart and Intrinsic Change.William Lane Craig - 1999 - Analysis 59 (4):319-320.
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  12. added 2019-06-06
    Time, Change, and the 'Indexical Fallacy'.R. Le Poidevin - 1987 - Mind 96:534.
    E. J. Lowe sets out in a recent paper1 to refute McTaggart's proof of the unreality of time, by exposing an ‘indexical fallacy’ in his disproof of the existence of tensed (i. e., A-series) facts.2 Lowe then develops an original account of what makes time the dimension of change, based on his own account of tensed facts. But in our opinion he fails on both counts: (1) he fails to refute McTaggart's perfectly sound disproof of tensed facts, which shows that (...)
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  13. added 2019-06-06
    Real Time.D. H. Mellor - 1981 - 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 (...)
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  14. added 2019-06-06
    McTaggart’s Theory of the Self.John Knox Jr - 1981 - Idealistic Studies 11 (2):151-166.
    According to J. M. E. McTaggart, all that exists is spiritual, where spirituality is defined as “the quality of having content, all of which is the content of one or more selves”. In view of the importance which he thus assigns to selves, one properly expects of McTaggart a clear, certainly a consistent, account of what a self is. Yet the picture one receives remains clouded—clouded mainly by positions which may be contradictory within themselves, and by what plainly look to (...)
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  15. added 2019-06-06
    The Concept of Presence and McTaggart’s Argument Against the Reality of Time.Loy Littlefield - 1971 - Idealistic Studies 1 (2):128-141.
    Destructive arguments such as Zeno’s against the reality of motion and McTaggart’s against the reality of time often provoke an intellectual unease. One reason, perhaps, is that arguments of this sort necessarily throw us into company with something counterfeit. In the case of McTaggart, either his argument is unsound or our perception of the world as temporally ordered is illusory. Thus, we may feel an immediate need to identify the counterfeit alternative, to agree or disagree with the argument and to (...)
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  16. added 2019-06-05
    The Passage of Time and its Enemies: An Introduction to Time and Reality II.Emiliano Boccardi - 2017 - Manuscrito 40 (1):5-41.
    ABSTRACT 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 (...)
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  17. added 2019-02-14
    Towards an AB-Series Interpretation of Time in Physics.Paul Merriam - manuscript
    How can McTaggart's A-series notion of time be incorporated into physics while retaining the B-series notion? It may be the A-series 'now' can be construed as ontologically private. How is that modeled? Could a definition of a combined AB-series entropy help with the Past Hypothesis problem? What if the increase in entropy as a system goes from earlier times to later times is canceled by the decrease in entropy as a system goes from future, to present, to past?
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  18. added 2019-01-09
    Flow Fragmentalism.Giuliano Torrengo & Samuele Iaquinto - 2019 - Theoria 85 (3):185-201.
    In this paper, we articulate a version of non-standard A-theory – which we call Flow Fragmentalism – in relation to its take on the issue of supervenience of truth on being. According to the Truth Supervenes on Being (TSB) Principle, the truth of past- and future-tensed propositions supervenes, respectively, on past and future facts. Since the standard presentist denies the existence of past and future entities and facts concerning them that do not obtain in the present, she seems to lack (...)
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  19. added 2018-07-26
    Fine's Trilemma and the Reality of Tensed Facts.Roberto Loss - 2018 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 7 (3):209-217.
    Fine (2005, 2006) has presented a ‘trilemma’ concerning the tense-realist idea that reality is constituted by tensed facts. According to Fine, there are only three ways out of the trilemma, consisting in what he takes to be the three main families of tense-realism: ‘presentism’, ‘(external) relativism’, and ‘fragmentalism’. Importantly, although Fine characterises tense-realism as the thesis that reality is constituted (at least in part) by tensed facts, he explicitly claims that tense realists are not committed to their fundamental existence. Recently, (...)
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  20. added 2018-07-12
    Thisness Presentism: An Essay on Time, Truth, and Ontology.David Ingram - 2019 - Oxford, UK: Routledge.
    Thisness Presentism outlines and defends a novel version of presentism, the view that only present entities exist and what is present really changes. Presentism is a view of time that captures a real and objective difference between what is past, present, and future, and which offers a model of reality that is dynamic and mutable, rather than static and immutable. The book advances a new defence of presentism by developing a novel ontology of thisness, combining insights about the nature of (...)
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  21. 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 (...)
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  22. 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 (...)
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  23. added 2018-02-21
    Time and Tense: Unifying the Old and the New.Stamatios Gerogiorgakis - 2016 - Munich: Philosophia.
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  24. added 2018-02-07
    Hegel, Spinoza, and McTaggart on the Reality of Time.Yitzhak Melamed - 2016 - Internationales Jahrbuch des Deutschen Idealismus / International Yearbook of German Idealism 14:211-234.
    In this paper, I study one aspect of the philosophical encounter between Spinoza and Hegel: the question of the reality of time. The precise reconstruction of the debate will require a close examination of Spinoza's concept of tempus (time) and duratio (duration), and Hegel's understanding of these notions. Following a presentation of Hegel's perception of Spinoza as a modern Eleatic, who denies the reality of time, change and plurality, I turn, in the second part, to look closely at Spinoza's text (...)
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  25. added 2017-07-23
    Time, Persistence, and Causality: Towards a Dynamic View of Temporal Reality.Rognvaldur Ingthorsson - 2002 - Dissertation, Umeå University
    The thesis revolves around the following questions. What is time? Is time tensed or tenseless? Do things endure or perdure, i.e. do things persist by being wholly present at many times, or do they persist by having temporal parts? Do causes bring their effects into existence, or are they only correlated with each other? Within a realist approach to metaphysics, the author claims that the tensed view of time, the endurance view of persistence, and the production view of causality naturally (...)
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  26. added 2017-05-20
    The Experience of Temporal Passage.Akiko M. Frischhut - 2013 - Dissertation, University of Geneva and University of Glasgow
    The project of my dissertation was to advance the metaphysical debate about temporal passage, by relating it to debates about the perceptual experience of time and change. It seems true that we experience temporal passage, even if there is disagreement whether time actually passes, or what temporal passage consists in. This appears to give the defender of dynamic time an advantage in accounting for our experience. I challenge this by arguing that no major account of temporal perception can accommodate experiences (...)
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  27. added 2017-05-05
    Fine’s McTaggart: Reloaded.Roberto Loss - 2017 - Manuscrito: Revista Internacional de Filosofía 40 (1):209-239.
    In this paper I will present three arguments (based on the notions of constitution, metaphysical reality, and truth, respectively) with the aim of shedding some new light on the structure of Fine’s (2005, 2006) ‘McTaggartian’ arguments against the reality of tense. Along the way, I will also (i) draw a novel map of the main realist positions about tense, (ii) unearth a previously unnoticed but potentially interesting form of external relativism (which I will label ‘hyper-presentism’) and (iii) sketch a novel (...)
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  28. added 2017-03-31
    Dissolving McTaggart's Paradox.Tobias Hansson Wahlberg - 2013 - In Christer Svennerlind, Jan Almäng & Rögnvaldur Ingthorsson (eds.), Johanssonian Investigations. Essays in Honour of Ingvar Johansson on His Seventieth Birthday. Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag. pp. 240-258.
  29. added 2017-01-29
    McTaggart's Theory of Immortality.Hilda D. Oakeley - 1946 - Hibbert Journal 45:350.
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  30. added 2017-01-28
    Mctaggart.S. V. Keeling - 1933 - Mind 42:544.
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  31. added 2017-01-27
    Having a Good Time with Kierkegaard: Mctaggart, Kierkegaard, and the Ethical Status of Time.Marcos Pound - 2005 - Philosophical Writings 28 (1).
    McTaggart’s claim that time is unreal has caused a wave of consternation, but attention is rarely given to the initial context of that denial. This paper argues that McTaggart’s denial is motivated less by considerations of logic than by an ethical imperative, and in light of this, asks whether ethics is best served by denying time. I employ Kierkegaard’s distinction between pagan and Christian cognitions of time to suggest that McTaggart’s denial amounts to a neo-platonic/gnostic degradation of the temporal realm (...)
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  32. added 2017-01-17
    Time and Temporality: A Heiddegerian Perspective on McTaggart's A-Series.Zachary Dotray - unknown
    J.M.E. McTaggart first employed the now-standard distinction between the A- an B-series in an attempt to prove the unreality of time. I argue that McTaggart's analysis of time requires that a subject exist within the A-series, and as such lends itself to a Heideggerian conception of time, viewed both through Being and Time and Heidegger's interpretation of Aristotle's theory, that necessitates a 'personal' temporality in order to make 'world-time' intelligible. I also suggest that Heidegger's temporaility, formulated as a non-successive unity (...)
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  33. added 2017-01-17
    A Defence of McTaggart’s Proof of the Unreality of Time.Michael Dummett - 1978 - In Truth and Other Enigmas. Duckworth. pp. 351-357.
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  34. added 2017-01-16
    The Philosophy of Time and the Timeless in McTaggart's Nature of Existence.H. D. Oakeley - 1946 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 47 (1):105-128.
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  35. added 2017-01-16
    Examination of McTaggart's Philosophy.A. E. M. & C. D. Broad - 1938 - Journal of Philosophy 35 (18):491.
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  36. added 2017-01-16
    The Manichen Unreality.John Durkan - 1934 - New Blackfriars 15 (176):760-762.
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  37. added 2017-01-15
    On a ‘Very Obscure Argument’ in McTaggart.Denis Corish - 1978 - Philosophical Studies (Dublin) 26:191-197.
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  38. added 2017-01-14
    McTaggart’s Paradox and its Consequences.Strahinja Djordjevic - 2015 - Filozofija I Društvo 26 (1):226-242.
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  39. added 2017-01-14
    J. Mctaggart E. Mctaggart.G. Lowes Dickinson - 2015 - Cambridge University Press.
    Originally published in 1931, this book presents a concise biography of the British idealist metaphysician John McTaggart Ellis McTaggart. The text was largely written by the prominent political scientist Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, a close friend of the subject. Abundant material from McTaggart's memoirs, letters and other writings is included, with earlier chapters covering more personal areas and later ones focusing on his philosophical approach. Ilustrative figures and notes are also included. This book will be of value to anyone with an (...)
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  40. added 2017-01-14
    IS NOW A MOMENT IN TIME? A Discussion of McTaggart’s Argument Against the Reality of Time From a Transcendental Idealist Standpoint.Michel Bitbol - unknown
    A concept of the ‘actual now’ is introduced. The ‘actual now’ is negatively characterized by the fact that it is absent from the time-series. This does not mean that the ‘actual now’ is outside the time-series. For saying so would wrongly suggest the existence of an ‘outside’ where the ‘actual now’ could be located. Instead, one considers that the ‘actual now’ is just the name of ‘that with respect to which’ any event can be said to be past or future, (...)
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  41. added 2016-12-08
    The Metaphysics of Time: A Dialogue.Bradley Dowden - 2009 - Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
    Seventh in the New Dialogues in Philosophy series, this book discusses the concept of time and shows in the simplest ways how time informs discussions about causality, creation, physics, natural disasters, and much more. Creating a series of conversations between two fictional characters, Bradley Dowden uses the characters to explore nine metaphysical issues involving time.
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  42. added 2016-12-08
    Mctaggart on Time.Judith Jarvis Thomson - 2001 - Noûs 35 (s15):229-252.
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  43. added 2016-12-08
    Statements, Sentences and States of Affairs in McTaggart and in General.Joy H. Roberts - 1980 - Erkenntnis 15 (1):73-89.
  44. 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 (...)
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  45. added 2016-11-05
    Presentismo, referência ao passado e proposições.César Schirmer dos Santos - 2011 - Investigação Filosófica 2 (2):1-8.
    Os presentistas nos dizem que os únicos objetos percorridos pelos quantificadoresde escopo mais amplo são aqueles que existem no presente, o que leva seus críticos aperguntarem o que torna verdadeiros os enunciados sobre o passado, como “Sócrates foi umfilósofo”. Em defesa do presentismo, e seguindo a proposta de Fiocco (2007), argumentamosque o que torna verdadeiro um enunciado sobre o passado é uma proposição, que proposiçõesnão existem no tempo, e que nada na teoria presentista compromete seus defensores com atese de que (...)
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  46. added 2016-09-06
    Every Now and Then, No-Futurism Faces No Sceptical Problems.Tim Button - 2007 - Analysis 67 (4):325–332.
    Tallant (2007) has challenged my recent defence of no-futurism (Button 2006), but he does not discuss the key to that defence: that no-futurism's primitive relation 'x is real-as-of y' is not symmetric. I therefore answer Tallant's challenge in the same way as I originally defended no-futurism. I also clarify no-futurism by rejecting a common mis-characterisation of the growing-block theorist. By supplying a semantics for no-futurists, I demonstrate that no-futurism faces no sceptical challenges. I conclude by considering the problem of how (...)
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  47. 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. (...)
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  48. 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 (...)
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  49. added 2016-03-01
    The Moving Spotlight Lights, and Having Lit, Moves On: Ross Cameron: The Moving Spotlight. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 240pp, $60.00 HB.Kristie Miller - 2016 - Metascience (2):1-5.
    Ross Cameron’s the moving spotlight reminds me a bit of Pirates of the Caribbean. Although there are no pirates, it’s a rip roaring swashbuckling adventure. It’s a wild ride. Truth be told, many of us will probably conclude that it’s no more plausible an account of our world than is Pirates of the Caribbean a faithful depiction of piracy. I’m not a moving spotlight theorist. There aren’t many of them out there. I’m not even an A-theorist, though there are plenty (...)
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  50. added 2016-02-26
    Temporal Parity and the Problem of Change.Rögnvaldur Ingthorsson - 2001 - SATS 2 (2):60-79.
    I discuss the general form of arguments that profess to prove that the view that things endure in tensed time through causally produced change (the dynamic view) must be false because it involves contradictions. I argue that these arguments implicitly presuppose what has been called the temporal parity thesis, i.e. that all moments of time are equally existent and real, and that this thesis must be understood as the denial of the dynamic view. When this implicit premise is made explicit, (...)
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1 — 50 / 173