Bananas enough for time travel

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 48 (3):363-389 (1997)
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This paper argues that the most famous objection to backward time travel can carry no weight. In its classic form, the objection is that backward time travel entails the occurrence of impossible things, such as auto-infanticide—and hence is itself impossible. David Lewis has rebutted the classic version of the objection: auto-infanticide is prevented by coincidences, such as time travellers slipping on banana peels as they attempt to murder their younger selves. I focus on Paul Horwich‘s more recent version of the objection, according to which backward time travel entails not impossible things, but improbable ones—such as the string of slips on banana peels that would be required to stop a determined auto-infanticidal maniac from murdering her younger self—and hence is itself highly improbable. I argue that backward time travel does not entail unusual numbers of coincidences; and that, even if it did, that would not render its occurrence unlikely.



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Nicholas J. J. Smith
University of Sydney

Citations of this work

Time travel and time machines.Chris Smeenk & Christian Wuthrich - 2011 - In Craig Callender (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Time. Oxford University Press. pp. 577-630.
Time travel, coincidences, and counterfactuals.Theodore Sider - 2002 - Philosophical Studies 110 (2):115 - 138.
Time Enough for Explanation.Sam Baron & Mark Colyvan - 2016 - Journal of Philosophy 113 (2):61-88.

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References found in this work

Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 1980 - Philosophy 56 (217):431-433.
Naming and Necessity.S. Kripke - 1972 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 45 (4):665-666.
The Paradoxes of Time Travel.David K. Lewis - 1976 - American Philosophical Quarterly 13 (2):145-152.
Time’s arrow and Archimedes’ point.Huw Price - 1996 - Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 59 (4):1093-1096.
Asymmetries in Time.Paul Horwich - 1990 - Noûs 24 (5):804-806.

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