Temporal Eliminativism

Edited by Sam Baron (University of Western Australia)
Assistant editor: James Darcy (University of Virginia)
About this topic
Summary A central assumption of the traditional debate in temporal ontology between views such as presentism and eternalism is that time exists. Some philosophers and physicists deny this central assumption. Any theory that denies the existence of time faces a massive reconstruction project, whereby our everyday experiences of the world are recovered intact. The temporal eliminativism category is therefore devoted, on the one hand, to physical and metaphysical theories that deny the existence of time and, on the other hand, to attempts at completing the aforementioned reconstruction.  
Key works McTaggart 1908  famously argued that time does not exist. Gödel 1949 and Sprigge 1991 defend a position in the neighbourhood of McTaggart's. All three, however, take the A-series to be essential to time and so their error-theoretic conclusions may be a bit hasty. More recently Tallant 2008 and Tallant 2010 argue that time does not exist. Similarly, Julian Barbour defends the claim that completed theory of quantum gravity will have no place for time, see Barbour 1999, Barbour 1994 and Barbour 1994
Introductions Introductory material on this topic is difficult to come by, though Barbour 1999 is a good introduction to the issues surrounding time in quantum gravity. 
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  1. Complicated Presence: Heidegger and the Postmetaphysical Unity of Being.Jussi Backman - 2015 - State University of New York Press.
    From its Presocratic beginnings, Western philosophy concerned itself with a quest for unity both in terms of the systematization of knowledge and as a metaphysical search for a unity of being—two trends that can be regarded as converging and culminating in Hegel’s system of absolute idealism. Since Hegel, however, the philosophical quest for unity has become increasingly problematic. Jussi Backman returns to that question in this book, examining the place of the unity of being in the work of Heidegger. Backman (...)
  2. Unreality and Time.Archie J. Bahm - 1987 - International Studies in Philosophy 19 (3):68-70.
  3. The End of Time: The Next Revolution in Physics.Julian Barbour - 1999 - Weidenfeld & Nicholson.
    In a revolutionary new book, a theoretical physicist attacks the foundations of modern scientific theory, including the notion of time, as he shares evidence of ...
  4. The Timelessness of Quantum Gravity: I. The Evidence From the Classical Theory.Julian B. Barbour - 1994 - Classical and Quantum Gravity 11:2853--73.
  5. The Timelessness of Quantum Gravity: II. The Appearance of Dynamics in Static Configurations.Julian B. Barbour - 1994 - Classical and Quantum Gravity 11:2875--97.
  6. From Timeless Physical Theory to Timelessness.Sam Baron, Peter Evans & Kristie Miller - 2010 - Humana Mente 13:35-59.
    This paper addresses the extent to which both Julian Barbour‘s Machian formulation of general relativity and his interpretation of canonical quantum gravity can be called timeless. We differentiate two types of timelessness in Barbour‘s (1994a, 1994b and 1999c). We argue that Barbour‘s metaphysical contention that ours is a timeless world is crucially lacking an account of the essential features of time—an account of what features our world would need to have if it were to count as being one in which (...)
  7. Causation Sans Time.Sam Baron & Kristie Miller - 2015 - American Philosophical Quarterly 52 (1):27-40.
    Is time necessary for causation? We argue that, given a counterfactual theory of causation, it is not. We defend this claim by considering cases of counterfactual dependence in quantum mechanics. These cases involve laws of nature that govern entanglement. These laws make possible the evaluation of causal counterfactuals between space-like separated entangled particles. There is, for the proponent of a counterfactual theory of causation, a possible world in which causation but not time exists that can be reached by ‘stripping out’ (...)
  8. Causation in a Timeless World.Sam Baron & Kristie Miller - 2014 - Synthese 191 (12):2867-2886.
    This paper offers a new way to evaluate counterfactual conditionals on the supposition that actually, there is no time. We then parlay this method of evaluation into a way of evaluating causal claims. Our primary aim is to preserve, at a minimum, the assertibility of certain counterfactual and causal claims once time has been excised from reality. This is an important first step in a more general reconstruction project that has two important components. First, recovering our ordinary language claims involving (...)
  9. What is Temporal Error Theory?Samuel Baron & Kristie Miller - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (9):2427-2444.
    Much current debate in the metaphysics of time is between A-theorists and B-theorists. Central to this debate is the assumption that time exists and that the task of metaphysics is to catalogue time’s features. Relatively little consideration has been given to an error theory about time. Since there is very little extant work on temporal error theory the goal of this paper is simply to lay the groundwork to allow future discussion of the relative merits of such a view. The (...)
  10. Transcendental Idealism Among the Jersey Metaphysicians.Gordon Belot - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 150 (3):429 - 438.
    Some questions are posed for van Fraassen, concerning the role and status of metaphysics in his Scientific Representation.
  11. Heidegger's Temporal Idealism.William D. Blattner - 1999 - Cambridge University Press.
    This book is a systematic reconstruction of Heidegger's account of time and temporality in Being and Time. The author locates Heidegger in a tradition of 'temporal idealism' with its sources in Plotinus, Leibniz, and Kant. For Heidegger, time can only be explained in terms of 'originary temporality', a concept integral to his ontology. Blattner sets out not only the foundations of Heidegger's ontology, but also his phenomenology of the experience of time. Focusing on a neglected but central aspect of Being (...)
  12. Phenomenological Ontology or the Explanation of Social Norms?: A Confrontation with William Blattner's Heidegger's Temporal Idealism.Edgar C. Boedeker - 2002 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 84 (3):334-344.
    Some of the most important contributions over the past two decades to understanding Heidegger's thought have been made by philosophers writing in English and sharing the broad perspective of analytic – or, perhaps better, “post-analytic” – philosophy. With Heidegger's Temporal Idealism, William Blattner has moved this approach several important steps forward. Like others in this recent movement, he interprets Heidegger not so much in the terms of existentialism or post-structuralism, as in those of the later Wittgenstein, classical American pragmatism, and (...)
  13. On Time and the Varieties of Science.David Braddon-Mitchell & Kristie Miller - forthcoming - Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science.
    This paper proffers an account of why interdisciplinary research on, inter alia, the nature of time can be fruitful even if the disciplines in question have different explanatory pro-jects. We suggest that the special sciences perform a subject setting role for lower-level disciplines such as physics. In essence, they tell us where, amongst a theory of the physical world, we should expect to locate phenomena such as temporality; they tell us what it would take for there to be time. Physical (...)
  14. Unreality and Time.Robert S. Brumbaugh - 1984 - State University of New York Press.
    This book recognizes and questions a key assumption about time which is shared by common sense and philosophy—the assumption that time, like a single substance or a homogeneous quality, is subject to the law of contradiction. This leads to the logical conclusion that among different and mutually exclusive accounts of time, whether in science, practical action, or fine art, only one can be the “right” one. Four such accounts are shown here to be internally consistent though mutually incompatible, suggesting that (...)
  15. Critical Notice.Jeremy Butterfield - 2002 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 53 (2):289-330.
    This review of Julian Barbour's The End of Time ([1999]) discusses his Machian theories of dynamics, and his proposal that a Machian perspective enables one to solve the problem of time in quantum geometrodynamics, viz. by saying that there is no time! 1 Introduction 2 Machian themes in classical physics 2.1 The status quo 2.2 Machianism 2.2.1 The temporal metric as emergent 2.2.2 Machian theories 2.2.3 Assessing intrinsic dynamics 3 The end of time? 3.1 Time unreal? The classical case 3.1.1 (...)
  16. The End of Time?Jeremy Butterfield - 2002 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 53:289--330.
    I discuss Julian Barbour's Machian theories of dynamics, and his proposal that a Machian perspective enables one to solve the problem of time in quantum geometrodynamics (by saying that there is no time!). I concentrate on his recent book, The End of Time (1999). A shortened version will appear in The British Journal for Philosophy of Science}.
  17. Blattner, William D. Heidegger's Temporal Idealism.Richard Capobianco - 2000 - Review of Metaphysics 53 (4):918-919.
  18. Heidegger's Temporal Idealism.Taylor Carman - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (5):308-312.
  19. The Unreality of Time.Tobias Chapman - 1980 - Idealistic Studies 10 (2):122-130.
  20. A Defense of Mctaggart's Proof of the Unreality of Time.Michael Dummett - 1960 - Philosophical Review 69 (4):497-504.
  21. The View From Nowhen: The Mctaggart-Dummett Argument for the Unreality of Time.Kevin Falvey - 2010 - Philosophia 38 (2):297-312.
    Years ago, Michael Dummett defended McTaggart’s argument for the unreality of time, arguing that it cannot be dismissed as guilty of an “indexical fallacy.” Recently, E. J. Lowe has disputed Dummett’s claims for the cogency of the argument. I offer an elaboration and defense of Dummett’s interpretation of the argument (though not of its soundness). I bring to bear some work on tense from the philosophy of language, and some recent work on the concept of the past as it occurs (...)
  22. An Example of a New Type of Cosmological Solutions of Einstein’s Field Equations of Gravitation.Kurt Gödel - 1949 - Reviews of Modern Physics 21 (3):447–450.
  23. The Dynamics of Time and Timelessness: Philosophy, Physics and Prospects for Our Life.Attila Grandpierre - 2003 - In Metod Saniga (ed.), The Nature of Time: Geometry, Physics & Perception, eds. R. Buccheri, M. Saniga and W. M. Stuckey, NATO Science Series: II: Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry : Volume 95. Kluwer Academic Publishers.
    Abstract. We point out that physical behavior is directed by the action principle (or Hamilton principle), while biological behavior is governed by the Bauer-principle which is directed against the action principle. Therefore, the ontological structure of reality have to be at least two-levelled. Consequently, we may escape from the paradoxes of endo-physics, since they arise from putting the observer into a physical context and compressing the ontological structure of reality into a one-levelled surface. We indicate that the concept of the (...)
  24. Time Remains.Gryb Sean & P. Y. Thébault Karim - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (3):663-705.
    On one popular view, the general covariance of gravity implies that change is relational in a strong sense, such that all it is for a physical degree of freedom to change is for it to vary with regard to a second physical degree of freedom. At a quantum level, this view of change as relative variation leads to a fundamentally timeless formalism for quantum gravity. Here, we will show how one may avoid this acute ‘problem of time’. Under our view, (...)
  25. Heidegger's Temporal Idealism.Charles Guignon - 2003 - International Studies in Philosophy 35 (4):168-170.
  26. Heidegger's Temporal Idealism. [REVIEW]Espen Hammer - 2000 - Radical Philosophy 102.
  27. Can Physics Coherently Deny the Reality of Time?Richard Healey - 2002 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 50:293-.
    The conceptual and technical difficulties involved in creating a quantum theory of gravity have led some physicists to question, and even in some cases to deny, the reality of time. More surprisingly, this denial has found a sympathetic audience among certain philosophers of physics. What should we make of these wild ideas? Does it even make sense to deny the reality of time? In fact physical science has been chipping away at common sense aspects of time ever since its inception. (...)
  28. Timelessness and the Metaphysics of Temporal Existence.Dennis C. Holt - 1981 - American Philosophical Quarterly 18 (2):149 - 156.
  29. Mctaggart and the Unreality of Time.Rögnvaldur Ingthorsson - 1998 - Axiomathes 9 (3):287-306.
    McTaggart's argument for the unreality of time is generally believed to be a self-contained argument independent of McTaggart's idealist ontology. I argue that this is mistaken. It is really a demonstration of a contradiction in the appearance of time, on the basis of certain a priori ontological axioms, in particular the thesis that all times exist in parity. When understood in this way, the argument is neither obscure or unfounded, but arguably does not address those versions of the A-theory that (...)
  30. Heidegger's Temporal Idealism.Cristina Ionescu - 2001 - Studia Phaenomenologica 1 (1-2):378-380.
  31. William D. Blattner, Heidegger's Temporal Idealism.K. M. Jahn - 2001 - Philosophy in Review 21 (1):8-9.
  32. Timelessness.F. B. Jevons - 1905 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 6:206 - 223.
  33. The Unrealities of Time.Baptiste Le Bihan - 2015 - Dialogue 54 (1):25-44.
    Is time flowing? A-theorists say yes, B-theorists say no. But both take time to be real. It means that B-theorists accept that time might be real, even if lacking a property usually ascribed to it. In this paper, I want to ask what are the different properties usually ascribed to time in order to draw the list of different possible kinds of realism and anti-realism about time. As we will see, there are three main kinds of anti-realism. I will claim (...)
  34. The Mathematics of McTaggart's Paradox.Domenico Mancuso - 2012 - Manuscrito 35 (2):233-67.
    Mc Taggart's celebrated proof of the unreality of time is a chain of implications whose final step asserts that the A-series (i.e. the classification of events as past, present or future) is intrinsically contradictory. This is widely believed to be the heart of the argument, and it is where most attempted refutations have been addressed; yet, it is also the only part of the proof which may be generalised to other contexts, since none of the notions involved in it is (...)
  35. Divine Timelessness: A Coherent but Unfruitful Doctrine?Arjan Markus - 2004 - Sophia 43 (2):29-48.
    The author argues in this article that it is possible to have a consistent and coherent version of the doctrine of divine timelessness. Towards the objection that a timeless God cannot act it is defended that a timeless God can certainly act in the world and can love human people. In spite of the consistency and coherence of the doctrine of divine timelessness, however, the author has serious problems with the fruitfulness of this doctrine when it comes to essential practices (...)
  36. John M. E. Mctaggart.Kris McDaniel - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    This is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy comprehensive article on J.M.E. MacTaggart, with special focus on his methodology for philosophy, his metaphysical system, and his ethics.
  37. The Unreality of Time.J. Ellis McTaggart - 1908 - Mind 17 (68):457-474.
  38. William D. Blattner, Heidegger's Temporal Idealism Reviewed By.Klaus Michael Jahn - 2001 - Philosophy in Review 21 (1):8-10.
  39. A Taxonomy of Views About Time in Buddhist and Western Philosophy.Kristie Miller - 2017 - Philosophy East and West 67 (3):763-782.
    We find the claim that time is not real in both western and eastern philosophical traditions. In what follows I will call the view that time does not exist temporal error theory. Temporal error theory was made famous in western analytic philosophy in the early 1900s by John McTaggart (1908) and, in much the same tradition, temporal error theory was subsequently defended by Gödel (1949). The idea that time is not real, however, stretches back much further than that. It is (...)
  40. Mctaggart and Contemporary Physics.Bradley Monton - unknown
    There are interesting parallels between some of McTaggart’s metaphysical views and developments from contemporary physics. Can McTaggart’s positive metaphysical views provide guidance in understanding how reality can be timeless at the fundamental level? I argue that the guidance McTaggart actually provides is limited – though not by any means useless.
  41. The Philosophy of Time and the Timeless in McTaggart's Nature of Existence.H. D. Oakeley - 1946 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 47:105 - 128.
  42. A Critical Review of McTaggart's "The Unreality of Time".Rajiv Pande - manuscript
    The intention of this critical review of McTaggart’s 1908 paper is to bring about a distinction between Time and Motion . This distinction is crucial to our understanding of both time as well as motion because so far they have ben treated by all as one and the same. McTaggart, by at least recognizing two different “series” which he calls the A-series and the B-series, has given us a starting point to further understand this distinction. In the process of establishing (...)
  43. Dr. Broad's Refutation of Mctaggart's Arguments for the Unreality of Time.Robert Leet Patterson - 1941 - Philosophical Review 50 (6):602-610.
  44. The End of Certainty: Time, Chaos, and the New Laws of Nature.I. Prigogine - 1997 - Free Press.
    [Time, the fundamental dimension of our existence, has fascinated artists, philosophers, and scientists of every culture and every century. All of us can remember a moment as a child when time became a personal reality, when we realized what a "year" was, or asked ourselves when "now" happened. Common sense says time moves forward, never backward, from cradle to grave. Nevertheless, Einstein said that time is an illusion. Nature's laws, as he and Newton defined them, describe a timeless, deterministic universe (...)
  45. Quantum Gravity.Carlo Rovelli - 2007 - Cambridge University Press.
    Quantum gravity poses the problem of merging quantum mechanics and general relativity, the two great conceptual revolutions in the physics of the twentieth century. The loop and spinfoam approach, presented in this book, is one of the leading research programs in the field. The first part of the book discusses the reformulation of the basis of classical and quantum Hamiltonian physics required by general relativity. The second part covers the basic technical research directions. Appendices include a detailed history of the (...)
  46. The Disappearance of Space and Time.Carlo Rovelli - 2007 - In Dennis Dieks (ed.), The Disappearance of Space and Time. Elsevier.
  47. Time in Quantum Gravity: An Hypothesis.Carlo Rovelli - 1991 - Physical Review D 43 (2):451–456.
    A solution to the issue of time in quantum gravity is proposed. The hypothesis that time is not defined at the fundamental level (at the Planck scale) is considered. A natural extension of canonical Heisenberg-picture quantum mechanics is defined. It is shown that this extension is well defined and can be used to describe the "non-Schrödinger regime," in which a fundamental time variable is not defined. This conclusion rests on a detailed analysis of which quantities are the physical observables of (...)
  48. Time From the Inside Out.John T. Sanders - manuscript
    My main objective, in this paper, is to present at least a rough sketch of a new model for understanding time. Since many people are quite content with the model that they have, it will be worth while to show why a new model might be desirable, or even necessary. As it happens, looking at the problems involved in the more usual conception of time leads one naturally to look in certain directions for solutions, and such an introduction can therefore (...)
  49. Decoherent Histories of Spin Networks.David P. B. Schroeren - 2013 - Foundations of Physics 43 (3):310-328.
    The decoherent histories formalism, developed by Griffiths, Gell-Mann, and Hartle (in Phys. Rev. A 76:022104, 2007; arXiv:1106.0767v3 [quant-ph], 2011; Consistent Quantum Theory, Cambridge University Press, 2003; arXiv:gr-qc/9304006v2, 1992) is a general framework in which to formulate a timeless, ‘generalised’ quantum theory and extract predictions from it. Recent advances in spin foam models allow for loop gravity to be cast in this framework. In this paper, I propose a decoherence functional for loop gravity and interpret existing results (Bianchi et al. in (...)
  50. The Demolition of Unreality.W. H. Sheldon - 1916 - Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 13 (12):318-321.
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