Doing for circular time what Shoemaker did for time without change: How one could have evidence that time is circular rather than linear and infinitely repeating

Philosophies 9 (4):92 (2024)
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Abstract

There are possible worlds in which time is circular and finite in duration, forming a loop of, say, 12,000 years. There are also possible worlds in which time is linear and infinite in both directions and in which history is repetitive, consisting of infinitely many 12,000-year epochs, each two of which are exactly alike with respect to all intrinsic, purely qualitative properties. Could one ever have empirical evidence that one inhabits a world of the first kind rather than a world of the second kind? We argue for the affirmative answer, contra Quine, Newton-Smith, and Bergström. Our argument for that conclusion differs from an argument for the same conclusion due to Weir. Weir’s argument is probabilistic and explicitly requires having evidence against determinism. Our argument is a direct appeal to the simplicity of laws, and it involves no probabilistic component. It is modeled on Shoemaker’s argument that one could have evidence of time without change.

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Author Profiles

Cody Gilmore
University of California, Davis
Brian Kierland
Boise State University

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References found in this work

On the Plurality of Worlds.David Lewis - 1986 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 178 (3):388-390.
Time without change.Sydney Shoemaker - 1969 - Journal of Philosophy 66 (12):363-381.
Real Time.David Hugh Mellor - 1981 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 34 (2):197-200.
The Structure of Time.W. H. Newton-Smith - 1980 - Mind 92 (366):293-296.

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