The philosophy of time can be divided into roughly four core areas: the metaphysics of time, the physics of time, temporal language, and the psychology of time. The metaphysics of time includes investigations about temporal ontology, the persistence of objects across time, time travel and the passage of time. The ontology of time investigates the ontological status and nature of the past, present, and future. The persistence literature involves determining how it is that objects persist through time – i.e. whether they endure in the sense that the same object is wholly present at every moment at which it exists, or perdure in the sense that they persist through time by having distinct temporal parts at difference times. The topic of time travel involves investigating whether and what kinds of time travel scenarios are logically, physically, or metaphysically possible. Investigations into the passage of time involve determining what the passage of time is, whether or not temporal passage exists, and what kind of ontology of time is necessary for time to pass. The next core aspect, the physics of time, involves issues related to temporal ontology, passage, and other aspects of time, such as direction, temporal asymmetry, and temporal eliminitavism. The ontology of time and physics involves the supposed incompatibility of certain ontologies with relativistic physics. That is, it is sometimes thought that an eternalist ontology (one on which all times exist and are on equal footing) is compatible with relativistic physics and incompatible with sparser ontologies (views according to which either only the present, or the present and past exist). The issues of direction and temporal asymmetry, then, involve pairing views about the direction of time with the laws of physics. Finally, temporal eliminitavism often involves using theories of physics to bolster the claim that time does not exist. Core debates in the literature on the philosophy of language and time include indexicals, tensed expressions and their compatibility with certain ontologies, and whether or not the language we use affects the way we experience time. An important topic in this literature is whether or not our use of tensed expressions such as ‘now’ and ‘is’ are compatible with a B-theoretic ontology. Therefore, a lot of work in this area for the B-theorist involves squaring these kinds of expressions with the B-theory. Additionally, the use of so called tensed language is sometimes posited as an explanation for why we think that time passes in the way described by A-theorists. Temporal psychology in the philosophy of time involves investigating our temporal experience – i.e., it involves assessing our experience in light of our assumptions about the metaphysics of time and vice versa. Notable topics in the category of temporal experience are temporal ontology, the passage of time, and temporal consciousness. Temporal ontology and the passage of time, together with temporal experience, involves assessing whether our experience lends itself to any particular theory over others. Additionally, an important topic in the temporal experience literature is temporal consciousness over time and the nature of our experience of continuity over time, especially in regard to the feeling of an extended, or specious, present. The disagreement here is about the nature of the specious present – i.e., whether there are individual specious presents that are extended across times, or whether the experience of specious presents involves a representation of things as extended across times. The rationality of temporal preferences across times is also an important topic.
McTaggart 1908 argues that time does not exist. This text is often seen as the starting point for most contemporary work on the metaphysics of time. The three main views stemming from McTaggart 1908 are the A-theory (see Cameron 2015, Zimmerman 2005, and Bourne 2006), the B-theory (see Oaklander 2012, and Deng 2013), and the C-theory (see Price 1996, and Farr 2012). Mellor 1981, Mellor 1998, and Callender 2017 are also important modern texts on temporal ontology. A good introduction to the time travel literature is Effingham 2020. For issues relating to the persistence literature, good places to start are Hawley 2001, Miller 2009, and Sider 2001. For issues related to the tensed/tenseless debate see Dyke 2003, and Dyke 2011, and for issues surrounding tensed language and experience see Miller et al 2020. For book length discussions of temporal experience see Prosser 2016 and Le Poidevin 2007. Additionally, Paul 2010 writes about illusionism about temporal passage. Parfit 1984 is a good place to start for issues related to cross-temporal bias.
|Introductions||Good introductory texts on the philosophy of time include Baron & Miller 2018, Le Poidevin & MacBeath 1993, Power 2021, Van Fraassen 1970, and Bardon 2013.|
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