Towards a C Theory of Time: An appraisal of the physics and metaphysics of time direction

Dissertation, University of Bristol (2012)

Authors
Matt Farr
Cambridge University
Abstract
This thesis introduces and defends a ‘C theory’ of time. The metaphysics of time literature is primarily concerned with the distinction between the A and B theories of time, with the disagreement concerning whether the passage of time is an objective feature of reality. I argue that the distinction between the B and C theories—in terms of whether time has a ‘privileged’ direction—is of more obvious relevance to the philosophy of physics than is the distinction between the A and B theories. The thesis has three main contentions. (1) In order to maintain a substantial metaphysical dispute between the different theories of time, they must be defined in terms of structural properties, and the naturalistic metaphysics of time direction involves the assessment of these structures in light of contemporary physics. (2) The A theory of time requires a model with two temporal dimensions, and although such a model provides a resolution to a number of problems faced by standard A theories, it is not motivated by physical theory. (3) The dispute between the B and C theories of time is of direct relevance to the philosophy of physics: the B theorist’s assumption of the existence of a privileged temporal direction is of explanatory relevance to physics; and a comparison between unidirectional and adirectional explanations in physics can in principle shed light on whether time is B- or C-theoretic.
Keywords C theory  B theory  Direction of time  Time symmetry  A theory  Temporal passage
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