Temporal Eliminativism

Edited by Sam Baron (Australian Catholic University)
Assistant editors: James Darcy, David Ingram
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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60 found
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  1. added 2020-04-18
    Théorie des cordes, gravité quantique à boucles et éternalisme.Baptiste Le Bihan - forthcoming - Métaphysique du Temps.
    L'éternalisme, la thèse selon laquelle les entités que nous catégorisons comme étant passées, présentes et futures existent tout autant, est la meilleure approche ontologique de l'existence temporelle qui soit en accord avec les théories de la relativité restreinte et de la relativité générale. Cependant, les théories de la relativité restreinte et générale ne sont pas fondamentales si bien que plusieurs programmes de recherche tentent de trouver une théorie plus fondamentale de la gravité quantique rassemblant tous les enseignements de la physique (...)
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  2. added 2020-03-24
    Quantum Gravity, Timelessness, and the Folk Concept of Time.Andrew James Latham & Kristie Miller - forthcoming - Synthese:1-26.
    What it would take to vindicate folk temporal error theory? This question is significant against a backdrop of new views in quantum gravity—so-called timeless physical theories—that claim to eliminate time by eliminating a one-dimensional substructure of ordered temporal instants. Ought we to conclude that if these views are correct, nothing satisfies the folk concept of time and hence that folk temporal error theory is true? In light of evidence we gathered, we argue that physical theories that entirely eliminate an ordered (...)
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  3. added 2020-01-13
    String Theory, Loop Quantum Gravity and Eternalism.Baptiste Le Bihan - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (2):1-22.
    Eternalism, the view that what we regard locally as being located in the past, the present and the future equally exists, is the best ontological account of temporal existence in line with special and general relativity. However, special and general relativity are not fundamental theories and several research programs aim at finding a more fundamental theory of quantum gravity weaving together all we know from relativistic physics and quantum physics. Interestingly, some of these approaches assert that time is not fundamental. (...)
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  4. added 2020-01-12
    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 (...)
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  5. added 2019-12-08
    Relational Time.Matteo Morganti - 2015 - In Tomasz Bigaj & Christian Wuthrich (eds.), Metaphysics in Contemporary Physics. Brill Rodopi. pp. 215-236.
    This paper defends a relational view of time based on recent work on quantum gravity. Julian barbour's relational approach to physical theory, in particular, is developed as a basis for a relational, rather than anti-realist, metaphysics of time.
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  6. added 2019-11-15
    Empirical Incoherence and Double Functionalism.Sam Baron - forthcoming - Synthese:1-27.
    Recent work on quantum gravity suggests that neither spacetime nor spatiotemporally located entites exist at a fundamental level. The loss of both brings with it the threat of empirical incoherence. A theory is empirically incoherent when the truth of that theory undermines the empirical justification for believing it. If neither spacetime nor spatiotemporally located entities exist as a part of a fundamental theory of QG, then such a theory seems to imply that there are no observables and so no way (...)
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  7. added 2019-10-18
    Spacetime Emergence in Quantum Gravity: Functionalism and the Hard Problem.Baptiste Le Bihan - forthcoming - Synthese.
    Spacetime functionalism is the view that spacetime is a functional structure implemented by a more fundamental ontology. Lam and Wüthrich have recently argued that spacetime functionalism helps to solve the epistemological problem of empirical coherence in quantum gravity and suggested that it also (dis)solves the hard problem of spacetime, namely the problem of offering a picture consistent with the emergence of spacetime from a non-spatio-temporal structure. First, I will deny that spacetime functionalism solves the hard problem by showing that it (...)
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  8. added 2019-08-15
    Time in a One-Instant World.Andrew James Latham & Kristie Miller - forthcoming - Ratio.
    Many philosophers hold that ‘one-instant worlds’—worlds that contain a single instant—fail to contain time. We experimentally investigate whether these worlds satisfy the folk concept of time. We found that ~50% of participants hold that there is time in such worlds. We argue that this suggests one of two possibilities. First, the population disagree about whether at least one of the A-, B-, or C-series is necessary for time, with there being a substantial sub-population for whom the presence of neither an (...)
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  9. added 2019-08-06
    Have we Lost Spacetime on the Way? Narrowing the Gap between General Relativity and Quantum Gravity.Baptiste Le Bihan & Niels Linnemann - 2019 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 65:112-121.
    Important features of space and time are taken to be missing in quantum gravity, allegedly requiring an explanation of the emergence of spacetime from non-spatio-temporal theories. In this paper, we argue that the explanatory gap between general relativity and non-spatio- temporal quantum gravity theories might significantly be reduced with two moves. First, we point out that spacetime is already partially missing in the context of general relativity when understood from a dynamical perspective. Second, we argue that most approaches to quantum (...)
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  10. added 2019-06-27
    Temporal Fictionalism for a Timeless World.Sam Baron, Kristie Miller & Jonathan Tallant - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Current debate in the metaphysics of time ordinarily assumes that we should be realists about time. Recently, however, a number of physicists and philosophers of physics have proposed that time will play no role in a completed theory of quantum gravity. This paper defends fictionalism about temporal thought, on the supposition that our world is timeless. We argue that, in the face of timeless physical theories, realism about temporal thought is unsustainable: some kind of anti-realism must be adopted. We go (...)
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  11. 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 (...)
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  12. added 2018-11-19
    L'éternité sans le temps.Baptiste Le Bihan - 2018 - Revue Philosophique De Louvain 116 (3):441-462.
    L'éternalisme implique une forme exotique d'éternité : toute entité, aussi éphémère soit-elle et quelle que soit sa localisation dans le temps, existe relativement à toute autre localisation temporelle. Cet essai vise, premièrement, à défendre l'éternalisme en exhibant les difficultés rédhibitoires du présentisme et du non-futurisme, et deuxièmement à examiner de quelle manière l'éternalisme pourrait être amendé à l'aune d'une affirmation que l'on trouve sous la plume de certains physiciens, à savoir que, fondamentalement, le temps n'existe pas. La disparition du temps (...)
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  13. added 2018-03-03
    Quantum Gravity, Timelessness, and the Contents of Thought.David Braddon-Mitchell & Kristie Miller - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (7):1807-1829.
    A number of recent theories of quantum gravity lack a one-dimensional structure of ordered temporal instants. Instead, according to many of these views, our world is either best represented as a single three-dimensional object, or as a configuration space composed of such three-dimensional objects, none of which bear temporal relations to one another. Such theories will be empirically self-refuting unless they can accommodate the existence of conscious beings capable of representation. For if representation itself is impossible in a timeless world, (...)
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  14. added 2018-01-05
    Priority Monism Beyond Spacetime.Baptiste Le Bihan - 2018 - Metaphysica 19 (1):95-111.
    I will defend two claims. First, Schaffer's priority monism is in tension with many research programs in quantum gravity. Second, priority monism can be modified into a view more amenable to this physics. The first claim is grounded in the fact that promising approaches to quantum gravity such as loop quantum gravity or string theory deny the fundamental reality of spacetime. Since fundamental spacetime plays an important role in Schaffer's priority monism by being identified with the fundamental structure, namely the (...)
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  15. 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 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, the unreality of time looks a better option than (...)
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  16. added 2016-08-26
    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 (...)
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  17. added 2015-04-04
    Heidegger's Temporal Idealism. [REVIEW]Espen Hammer - 2000 - Radical Philosophy 102.
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  18. added 2015-03-25
    Unreality and Time.Archie J. Bahm - 1987 - International Studies in Philosophy 19 (3):68-70.
  19. added 2015-03-23
    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 (...)
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  20. added 2014-09-22
    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 (...)
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  21. added 2014-09-22
    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 (...)
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  22. added 2014-09-22
    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 (...)
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  23. added 2014-09-22
    Farewell to McTaggart’s Argument?Michael Tooley - 2010 - Philosophia 38 (2):243-255.
    Philosophers have responded to McTaggart’s famous argument for the unreality of time in a variety of ways. Some of those responses are not easy to evaluate, since they involve, for example, sometimes murky questions concerning whether a certain infinite regress is or is not vicious. In this paper I set out a response that has not, I think, been advanced by any other author, and which, if successful, is absolutely clear-cut. The basic idea is simply that a tensed approach to (...)
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  24. added 2014-09-22
    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 (...)
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  25. added 2014-09-22
    Zeno Meets Modern Science.Zurab Silagade - unknown
    ``No one has ever touched Zeno without refuting him''. We will not refute Zeno in this paper. Instead we review some unexpected encounters of Zeno with modern science. The paper begins with a brief biography of Zeno of Elea followed by his famous paradoxes of motion. Reflections on continuity of space and time lead us to Banach and Tarski and to their celebrated paradox, which is in fact not a paradox at all but a strict mathematical theorem, although very counterintuitive. (...)
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  26. added 2014-09-22
    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 (...)
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  27. added 2014-09-22
    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 (...)
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  28. added 2014-09-22
    Heidegger’s Temporal Idealism.Charles Guignon - 2003 - International Studies in Philosophy 35 (4):168-170.
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  29. added 2014-09-22
    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 (...)
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  30. added 2014-09-22
    Heidegger’s Temporal Idealism.Cristina Ionescu - 2001 - Studia Phaenomenologica 1 (1-2):378-380.
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  31. added 2014-09-22
    William D. Blattner, Heidegger's Temporal Idealism.K. M. Jahn - 2001 - Philosophy in Review 21 (1):8-9.
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  32. added 2014-09-22
    A Remark on the" Unreality of Time".M. Ursic - 2001 - Acta Analytica 25:161-172.
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  33. added 2014-09-22
    Blattner, William D. Heidegger's Temporal Idealism.Richard Capobianco - 2000 - Review of Metaphysics 53 (4):918-919.
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  34. added 2014-09-22
    Heidegger’s Temporal Idealism.James K. A. Smith - 2000 - International Philosophical Quarterly 40 (3):383-385.
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  35. added 2014-09-22
    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 (...)
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  36. added 2014-09-22
    The Timelessness of Quantum Gravity: II. The Appearance of Dynamics in Static Configurations.Julian B. Barbour - 1994 - Classical and Quantum Gravity 11:2875--97.
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  37. added 2014-09-22
    The Timelessness of Quantum Gravity: I. The Evidence From the Classical Theory.Julian B. Barbour - 1994 - Classical and Quantum Gravity 11:2853--73.
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  38. added 2014-09-22
    The Unreality of Time.Tobias Chapman - 1980 - Idealistic Studies 10 (2):122-130.
    The purpose of this paper is to explore certain problems about the idea of time which lead to the conclusion that the concept is really contradictory. If this is so, then the idealists were correct in making the paradoxical claim that time is unreal. Following McTaggart the phrase “A-temporal determinations” will refer to the temporal “properties” of being past, present, or future, and “B-determinations” to the temporal relations of being before, after, or between.
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  39. added 2014-09-22
    A Defense of Mctaggart's Proof of the Unreality of Time.Michael Dummett - 1960 - Philosophical Review 69 (4):497-504.
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  40. added 2014-09-22
    Dr. Broad's Refutation of Mctaggart's Arguments for the Unreality of Time.Robert Leet Patterson - 1941 - Philosophical Review 50 (6):602-610.
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  41. added 2014-07-15
    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 (...)
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  42. added 2014-03-21
    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. (...)
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  43. added 2014-03-17
    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 (...)
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  44. added 2014-03-14
    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 (...)
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  45. added 2014-03-07
    From Timeless Physical Theory to Timelessness.Samuel Baron, Peter Evans & Kristie Miller - 2010 - Humana Mente 4 (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 (...)
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  46. added 2014-03-01
    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’ (...)
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  47. added 2013-09-06
    The Disappearance of Space and Time.Carlo Rovelli - 2007 - In Dennis Dieks (ed.), The Disappearance of Space and Time. Elsevier.
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  48. added 2013-09-06
    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 (...)
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  49. added 2013-09-06
    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 (...)
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  50. added 2013-09-06
    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.
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