The Practical Arrow

Australasian Philosophical Review (forthcoming)
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Ismael traces our sense that the past is fixed and the future open to what she calls ‘the practical arrow’ – ‘the sense that we can affect the future but not the past.’ In this piece I draw a sharper distinction than Ismael herself does between agents and mere observers, even self-referential observers; and I use it to argue that Ismael’s explanation of the practical arrow is incomplete. To explain our inability to affect the past we need to appeal to our own temporal orientation as agents, and not merely to the ingredients from physics that allow us to predict the consequences of our actions. [This piece is a commentary on J Ismael’s ‘The Open Universe: Totality, Self-Reference and Time’, to appear in the Australasian Philosophical Review.]

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Huw Price
Cambridge University (PhD)

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References found in this work

Time’s arrow and Archimedes’ point.Huw Price - 1996 - Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 59 (4):1093-1096.
Causation as a secondary quality.Peter Menzies & Huw Price - 1993 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (2):187-203.
Bringing about the past.Michael Dummett - 1964 - Philosophical Review 73 (3):338-359.
Agency and probabilistic causality.Huw Price - 1991 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 42 (2):157-176.
Causation, Intervention and Agency—Woodward on Menzies and Price.Huw Price - 2017 - In Helen Beebee, Christopher Hitchcock & Huw Price (eds.), Making a Difference. Oxford, UK: pp. 73-98.

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