What is it to remember an episode from one’s past? How does episodic memory give us knowledge of the personal past? What explains the emergence of the apparently uniquely human ability to relive the past? Drawing on current research on mental time travel, this book proposes an integrated set of answers to these questions, arguing that remembering is a matter of simulating past episodes, that we can identify metacognitive mechanisms enabling episodic simulation to meet standards of reliability sufficient for (...) knowledge, and that the subjective experience of reliving the past is a precondition for the reliability of simulational remembering. The resulting account of memory, memory knowledge, and their evolution will be of interest both to philosophers interested in empirically-informed approaches to memory and to psychologists interested in the philosophical implications of empirical memory research. (shrink)
Michael Tooley presents a major new philosophical theory of the nature of time, offering a powerful alternative to the traditional "tensed" and recent "tenseless" accounts of time. He argues for a dynamic conception of the universe, in which past, present, and future are not merely subjective features of experience. He claims that the past and the present are real, while the future is not. Tooley's approach accounts for time in terms of causation. He therefore claims that the (...) key to understanding the dynamic nature of the universe is to understand the nature of causation. Time, Tense, and Causation is a landmark treatment of one of the oldest and most perplexing intellectual problems, and will be fascinating reading for anyone interested in the character of time. (shrink)
Real Time II extends and evolves D.H. Mellor's classic exploration of the philosophy of time, Real Time . This wholly new book answers such basic metaphysical questions about time as: how do past, present and future differ, how are time and space related, what is change, is time travel possible? His Real Time dominated the philosophy of time for fifteen years. This book will do the same for the next twenty years.
_Real Time II_ extends and evolves DH Mellor's classic exploration of the philosophy of time,_Real Time._ This new book answers such basic metaphysical questions about time as: how do past, present and future differ, how are time and space related, what is change, is time travel possible? His _Real Time_ dominated the philosophy of time for fifteen years. _Real TIme II_ will do the same for the next twenty. GET /english/edu/Studying_at_SU/History_of_Literature.html HTTP/1.0.
Our engagement with time is a ubiquitous feature of our lives. We are aware of time on many scales, from the briefest flicker of change to the way our lives unfold over many years. But to what extent does this encounter reveal the true nature of temporal reality? To the extent that temporal reality is as it seems, how do we come to be aware of it? And to the extent that temporal reality is not as it seems, (...) why does it seem that way? These are the central questions addressed by Simon Prosser in Experiencing Time. He defends the B-theory of time, according to which the apparently dynamic quality of change, the special status of the present, and even the passage of time are all illusions. Prosser goes on to explore solutions to certain puzzles raised by experiences of temporal features such as changes, rates, and durations, and in doing so sheds light on broader issues in the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
This is a study of the nature of time. In it, redeploying an argument first presented by McTaggart, the author argues that although time itself is real, tense is not. He accounts for the appearance of the reality of tense - our sense of the passage of time, and the fact that our experience occurs in the present - by showing how time is indispensable as a condition of action. Time itself is further analysed, and (...) Dr Mellor gives answers to most of the metaphysical questions it provokes, concerning the relation of time to space, the dissection of time, and its relation to change and causation. (shrink)
Why is the future so different from the past? Why does the past affect the future and not the other way round? The universe began with the Big Bang - will it end with a `Big Crunch'? Now in paperback, this book presents an innovative and controversial view of time and contemporary physics. Price urges physicists, philosophers, and anyone who has ever pondered the paradoxes of time to look at the world from a fresh perspective, and throws fascinating (...) new light on some of the great mysteries of the universe. (shrink)
"For description and defense of the narrative configurations of everyday life, and of the practical and social character of those narratives, there is no better treatment than Time, Narrative, and History.... a clear, judicious, and truthful account, provocative from beginning to end." —Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology "... a superior work of philosophy that tells a unique and insightful story about narrative." —Quarterly Journal of Speech.
This chapter defines and defends time-slice epistemology, according to which there are no essentially diachronic norms of rationality. The chapter begins by distinguishing two notions of time-slice epistemology, and ends by defending time-slice theories of action under indeterminacy, i.e. theories about how you should act when the outcome of your decision depends on some indeterminate claim. In a recent chapter, J. Robert G. Williams defends a theory of action under indeterminacy which is subject to several objections. An (...) alternative theory is proposed in its place. The resulting discussion highlights a more general moral about action under indeterminacy, namely that time-slice theories are supported by strong analogies with ethical theories. In particular, our understanding of agents torn between interpretations of a decision situation should be guided by our theories of agents torn between incommensurable values. (shrink)
In a quantum universe with a strong arrow of time, it is standard to postulate that the initial wave function started in a particular macrostate---the special low-entropy macrostate selected by the Past Hypothesis. Moreover, there is an additional postulate about statistical mechanical probabilities according to which the initial wave function is a ''typical'' choice in the macrostate. Together, they support a probabilistic version of the Second Law of Thermodynamics: typical initial wave functions will increase in entropy. Hence, there are (...) two sources of randomness in such a universe: the quantum-mechanical probabilities of the Born rule and the statistical mechanical probabilities of the Statistical Postulate. I propose a new way to understand time's arrow in a quantum universe. It is based on what I call the Thermodynamic Theories of Quantum Mechanics. According to this perspective, there is a natural choice for the initial quantum state of the universe, which is given by not a wave function but by a density matrix. The density matrix plays a microscopic role: it appears in the fundamental dynamical equations of those theories. The density matrix also plays a macroscopic / thermodynamic role: it is exactly the projection operator onto the Past Hypothesis subspace. Thus, given an initial subspace, we obtain a unique choice of the initial density matrix. I call this property "the conditional uniqueness" of the initial quantum state. The conditional uniqueness provides a new and general strategy to eliminate statistical mechanical probabilities in the fundamental physical theories, by which we can reduce the two sources of randomness to only the quantum mechanical one. I also explore the idea of an absolutely unique initial quantum state, in a way that might realize Penrose's idea of a strongly deterministic universe. (shrink)
_Behavioral and Brain Sciences_ , 15, 183-247, 1992. Reprinted in _The Philosopher's Annual_ , Grim, Mar and Williams, eds., vol. XV-1992, 1994, pp. 23-68; Noel Sheehy and Tony Chapman, eds., _Cognitive Science_ , Vol. I, Elgar, 1995, pp.210-274.
Darwin and feminism: preliminary investigations into a possible alliance -- Darwin and the ontology of life -- The Nature of culture -- Law, justice, and the future -- The Time of violence: Derrida, deconstruction, and value -- Drucilla Cornell, identity, and the "Evolution" of Politics -- Philosophy, knowledge, and the future -- Deleuze, Bergson, and the virtual -- Merleau-Ponty, Bergson, and the question of ontology -- The thing -- Prosthetic objects -- Identity, sexual difference, and the future -- The (...)Time of thought -- The Force of sexual difference -- (Inhuman) forces: power, pleasure, and desire -- The future of female sexuality. (shrink)
This paper is an enquiry into the logical, metaphysical, and physical possibility of time travel understood in the sense of the existence of closed worldlines that can be traced out by physical objects. We argue that none of the purported paradoxes rule out time travel either on grounds of logic or metaphysics. More relevantly, modern spacetime theories such as general relativity seem to permit models that feature closed worldlines. We discuss, in the context of Gödel's infamous argument for (...) the ideality of time based on his eponymous spacetime, what this apparent physical possibility of time travel means. Furthermore, we review the recent literature on so-called time machines, i.e., of devices that produce closed worldlines where none would have existed otherwise. Finally, we investigate what the implications of the quantum behaviour of matter for the possibility of time travel might be and explicate in what sense time travel might be possible according to leading contenders for full quantum theories of gravity such as string theory and loop quantum gravity. (shrink)
Richard Sorabji here takes time as his central theme, exploring fundamental questions about its nature: Is it real or an aspect of consciousness? Did it begin along with the universe? Can anything escape from it? Does it come in atomic chunks? In addressing these and myriad other issues, Sorabji engages in an illuminating discussion of early thought about time, ranging from Plato and Aristotle to Islamic, Christian, and Jewish medieval thinkers. Sorabji argues that the thought of these often (...) negelected philosophers about the subject is, in many cases, more complete than that of their more recent counterparts. “Splendid. . . . The canvas is vast, the picture animated, the painter nonpareil. . . . Sorabji’s work will encourage more adventurers to follow him to this fascinating new-found land.”—Jonathan Barnes, Times Literary Supplement “One of the most important works in the history of metaphysics to appear in English for a considerable time. No one concerned with the problems with which it deals either as a historian of ideas or as a philosopher can afford to neglect it.”—Donald MacKinnon, Scottish Journal of Theology “Unusually readable for such scholarly content, the book provides in rich and cogent terms a lively and well-balanced discussion of matters of concern to a wide academic audience.”— Choice. (shrink)
I advocate Time-Slice Rationality, the thesis that the relationship between two time-slices of the same person is not importantly different, for purposes of rational evaluation, from the relationship between time-slices of distinct persons. The locus of rationality, so to speak, is the time-slice rather than the temporally extended agent. This claim is motivated by consideration of puzzle cases for personal identity over time and by a very moderate form of internalism about rationality. Time-Slice Rationality (...) conflicts with two proposed principles of rationality, Conditionalization and Reflection. Conditionalization is a diachronic norm saying how your current degrees of belief should fit with your old ones, while Reflection is a norm enjoining you to defer to the degrees of belief that you expect to have in the future. But they are independently problematic and should be replaced by improved, time-slice-centric principles. Conditionalization should be replaced by a synchronic norm saying what degrees of belief you ought to have given your current evidence and Reflection should be replaced by a norm which instructs you to defer to the degrees of belief of agents you take to be experts. These replacement principles do all the work that the old principles were supposed to do while avoiding their problems. In this way, Time-Slice Rationality puts the theory of rationality on firmer foundations and yields better norms than alternative, non-time-slice-centric approaches. (shrink)
On one popular view, the general covariance of gravity implies that change is relational in a strong sense, such that all it is for a physical degree of freedom to change is for it to vary with regard to a second physical degree of freedom. At a quantum level, this view of change as relative variation leads to a fundamentally timeless formalism for quantum gravity. Here, we will show how one may avoid this acute ‘problem of time’. Under our (...) view, duration is still regarded as relative, but temporal succession is taken to be absolute. Following our approach, which is presented in more formal terms in, it is possible to conceive of a genuinely dynamical theory of quantum gravity within which time, in a substantive sense, remains. 1 Introduction1.1 The problem of time1.2 Our solution2 Understanding Symmetry2.1 Mechanics and representation2.2 Freedom by degrees2.3 Voluntary redundancy3 Understanding Time3.1 Change and order3.2 Quantization and succession4 Time and Gravitation4.1 The two faces of classical gravity4.2 Retaining succession in quantum gravity5 Discussion5.1 Related arguments5.2 Concluding remarks. (shrink)
The epistemology of self-locating belief concerns itself with how rational agents ought to respond to certain kinds of indexical information. I argue that those who endorse the thesis of Time-Slice Rationality ought to endorse a particular view about the epistemology of self-locating belief, according to which ‘essentially indexical’ information is never evidentially relevant to non-indexical matters. I close by offering some independent motivations for endorsing Time-Slice Rationality in the context of the epistemology of self-locating belief.
In "Changing the Past" (2010), Peter van Inwagen argues that a time traveler can change the past without paradox in a growing block universe. After erasing the portion of past existence that generates paradox, a new, non-paradox-generating block can be "grown" after the temporal relocation of the time traveler. -/- I articulate and explore the underlying mechanism of Van Inwagen's model: the time traveler's control over the location of the objective present. Van Inwagen's model is aimed at (...) preventing paradox by changing the past, but it achieves something broader than paradox avoidance: it gives tools for a new model of time travel. I use van Inwagen's tools to develop a new kind of time travel in which in which the location of the objective present is shifted by the time traveler. I call this type of time travel Movable Objective Present, or MOP. After defining MOP, I argue that it is compatible with any theory of time that accepts hypertime, including presentism and moving spotlight theory. (shrink)
Following a line of research that I have developed for several years, I argue that the best strategy for understanding quantum gravity is to build a picture of the physical world where the notion of time plays no role at all. I summarize here this point of view, explaining why I think that in a fundamental description of nature we must “forget time”, and how this can be done in the classical and in the quantum theory. The idea (...) is to develop a formalism that treats dependent and independent variables on the same footing. In short, I propose to interpret mechanics as a theory of relations between variables, rather than the theory of the evolution of variables in time. (shrink)
Brian Leftow makes an important contribution to the longstanding debate among philosophers and theologians about the nature of God's eternity. The author develops a powerful and original defense of the notion that God is eternal in that he exists timelessly; that is, that though God exists, he does not exist at any time. Leftow defends the claim that a timeless God can be an object of human experience, and he attempts to delineate the extent of such a God's omniscience. (...) Finally, the author pays special attention to the relation between the claim that God is timeless and the claim that God is metaphysically simple. (shrink)
Two of the most difficult problems in the foundations of physics are (1) what gives rise to the arrow of time and (2) what the ontology of quantum mechanics is. I propose a unified 'Humean' solution to the two problems. Humeanism allows us to incorporate the Past Hypothesis and the Statistical Postulate into the best system, which we then use to simplify the quantum state of the universe. This enables us to confer the nomological status to the quantum state (...) in a way that adds no significant complexity to the best system and solves the ''supervenient-kind problem'' facing the original version of the Past Hypothesis. We call the resultant theory the Humean unification. It provides a unified explanation of time asymmetry and quantum entanglement. On this theory, what gives rise to time's arrow is also responsible for quantum phenomena. The new theory has a separable mosaic, a best system that is simple and non-vague, less tension between quantum mechanics and special relativity, and a higher degree of theoretical and dynamical unity. The Humean unification leads to new insights that can be useful to Humeans and non-Humeans alike. (shrink)
This article provides a non-technical overview of the conflict between the special theory of relativity and the dynamic theories of time. The chief argument against dynamic theories of time from relativistic mechanics is presented. The space of current responses to that argument is subsequently mapped.
Time and Memory throws new light on fundamental aspects of human cognition and consciousness by bringing together, for the first time, psychological and philosophical approaches dealing with the connection between the capacity to represent and think about time, and the capacity to recollect the past. Fifteen specially written essays offer insights into current theories of memory processes and of the mechanisms and cognitive abilities underlying temporal judgements, and draw out key issues concerning the phenomenology and epistemology of (...) memory and its role in our understanding of time. (shrink)
Introduction: Time and the shared world -- The "subject" of inquiry -- Mineness and the practical first-person -- Being and otherness: Sartre's critique -- Heideggerian aprioricity and the categories of being -- The temporality of care -- Fursorge: acknowledging the other Dasein -- Authenticity, inauthenticity, and the extremes of Fursorge -- Conclusion.
Future-biased individuals systematically prefer positively valenced events to be in the future (positive future-bias) and negatively valenced events to be in the past (negative future-bias). The most extreme form of future-bias is absolute future-bias, whereby we completely discount the value of past events when forming our preferences. Various authors have thought that we are absolutely future-biased (Sullivan (2018:58); Parfit (1984:173) and that future-bias (absolute or otherwise) is at least rationally permissible (Prior (1959), Hare (2007; 2008), Kauppinen (2018), Heathwood (2008)). The (...) permissibility of future-bias is often held to be grounded in the structure of the temporal dimension. In this paper I consider several proposals for grounding the permissibility of such preferences and evaluate these in the light of the preferences we would have, and judge that we should have, in various time-travel scenarios. I argue that what we learn by considering these scenarios is that these preferences really have nothing to do with temporal structure. So if something grounds their permissibility, it is not temporal structure. (shrink)
A theory of temporal passage is put forward which is "objective" in the sense that time flow characterizes the universe independently of the existence of conscious beings. The theory differs from Grunbaum's "mind-dependence" theory, and is designed to avoid Grunbaum's criticisms of an earlier theory of Reichenbach's. The representation of temporal becoming is accomplished by the introduction of indeterministic universe-models; each model representing the universe at a time. The models depict the past as a single four-dimensional manifold, and (...) the future as a branched structure of such manifolds. Time flow is relativistic in that it manifests itself in a frame-dependent (but not observer-dependent) way. The indeterministic character of the universe-models is mirrored in a "temporal" theory of truth which rejects the principle of bivalence, and suitable semantics are provided for this theory. Finally, an account of physical law is given which defines it in terms of physical possibility, rather than vice versa. (shrink)
David Albert's Time and Chance (2000) provides a fresh and interesting perspective on the problem of the direction of time. Unfortunately, the book opens with a highly non-standard exposition of time reversal invariance that distorts the subsequent discussion. The present article not only has the remedial goal of setting the record straight about the meaning of time reversal invariance, but it also aims to show how the niceties of this symmetry concept matter to the problem of (...) the direction of time and to related foundation issues in physics. (shrink)
This article argues that existing approaches to programming ethical AI fail to resolve a serious moral-semantic trilemma, generating interpretations of ethical requirements that are either too semantically strict, too semantically flexible, or overly unpredictable. This paper then illustrates the trilemma utilizing a recently proposed ‘general ethical dilemma analyzer,’ GenEth. Finally, it uses empirical evidence to argue that human beings resolve the semantic trilemma using general cognitive and motivational processes involving ‘mental time-travel,’ whereby we simulate different possible pasts and futures. (...) I demonstrate how mental time-travel psychology leads us to resolve the semantic trilemma through a six-step process of interpersonal negotiation and renegotiation, and then conclude by showing how comparative advantages in processing power would plausibly cause AI to use similar processes to solve the semantic trilemma more reliably than we do, leading AI to make better moral-semantic choices than humans do by our very own lights. (shrink)
What is the relation between time and change? Does time depend on the mind? Is the present always the same or is it always different? Aristotle tackles these questions in the Physics. In the first book in English exclusively devoted to this discussion, Ursula Coope argues that Aristotle sees time as a universal order within which all changes are related to each other. This interpretation enables her to explain two striking Aristotelian claims: that the now is like (...) a moving thing, and that time depends for its existence on the mind. (shrink)
Or better: time asymmetry in thermodynamics. Better still: time asymmetry in thermodynamic phenomena. “Time in thermodynamics” misleadingly suggests that thermodynamics will tell us about the fundamental nature of time. But we don’t think that thermodynamics is a fundamental theory. It is a theory of macroscopic behavior, often called a “phenomenological science.” And to the extent that physics can tell us about the fundamental features of the world, including such things as the nature of time, we (...) generally think that only fundamental physics can. On its own, a science like thermodynamics won’t be able to tell us about time per se. But the theory will have much to say about everyday processes that occur in time; and in particular, the apparent asymmetry of those processes. The pressing question of time in the context of thermodynamics is about the asymmetry of things in time, not the asymmetry of time, to paraphrase Price ( , ). I use the title anyway, to underscore what is, to my mind, the centrality of thermodynamics to any discussion of the nature of time and our experience in it. The two issues—the temporal features of processes in time, and the intrinsic structure of time itself—are related. Indeed, it is in part this relation that makes the question of time asymmetry in thermodynamics so interesting. This, plus the fact that thermodynamics describes a surprisingly wide range of our ordinary experience. We’ll return to this. First, we need to get the question of time asymmetry in thermodynamics out on the table. (shrink)
This paper deals with the historical and philosophical background of the introduction of the notion of branching time in philosophical logic as it is revealed in the hitherto unpublished mail-correspondence between Saul Kripke and A.N. Prior in the late 1950s. The paper reveals that the idea was first suggested by Saul Kripke in a letter to A.N. Prior, dated September 3, 1958, and it is shown how the elaboration of the idea in the course of the correspondence was intimately (...) intervowen with considerations of how to represent indeterminism and of the adequacy of tensed logic in light of special relativity. The correspondence underpins the point that Prior's later development of branching time may be understood as a crucial part of his attempt at the formulating a conceptual framework integrating basic human notions of time and free choice. (shrink)
This article develops a model-based account of the standardization of physical measurement, taking the contemporary standardization of time as its central case-study. To standardize the measurement of a quantity, I argue, is to legislate the mode of application of a quantity-concept to a collection of exemplary artefacts. Legislation involves an iterative exchange between top-down adjustments to theoretical and statistical models regulating the application of a concept, and bottom-up adjustments to material artefacts in light of remaining gaps. The model-based account (...) clarifies the cognitive role of ad hoc corrections, arbitrary rules and seemingly circular inferences involved in contemporary timekeeping, and explains the stability of networks of standards better than its conventionalist and constructivist counterparts. (shrink)
Frank Arntzenius presents a series of radical new ideas about the structure of space and time. Space, Time, and Stuff is an attempt to show that physics is geometry: that the fundamental structure of the physical world is purely geometrical structure. Along the way, he examines some non-standard views about the structure of spacetime and its inhabitants, including the idea that space and time are pointless, the idea that quantum mechanics is a completely local theory, the idea (...) that antiparticles are just particles travelling back in time, and the idea that time has no structure whatsoever. The main thrust of the book, however, is that there are good reasons to believe that spaces other than spacetime exist, and that it is the existence of these additional spaces that allows one to reduce all of physics to geometry. Philosophy, and metaphysics in particular, plays an important role here: the assumption that the fundamental laws of physics are simple in terms of the fundamental physical properties and relations is pivotal. Without this assumption one gets nowhere. That is to say, when trying to extract the fundamental structure of the world from theories of physics one ignores philosophy at one's peril! (shrink)
These are just some of the fundamental questions addressed in Time and Space. Writing for a primary readership of advanced undergraduate and graduate philosophy students, Barry Dainton introduces the central ideas and arguments that make space and time such philosophically challenging topics. Although recognising that many issues in the philosophy of time and space involve technical features of physics, Dainton has been careful to keep the conceptual issues accessible to students with little scientific or mathematical training. Surveying (...) historical debates and ideas at the forefront of contemporary thinking, the book is unrivaled in its coverage. Topics include McTaggart's argument for the unreality of change; static, tensed, and dynamic time; time travel and causal arrows; space as void, motion, and curved spac; as well as a non-technical introduction to the special theory of relativity and the key features of general relativity, spacetime, and strings. Dainton also addresses the relationship between the philosophy of time and broader human concerns involving actions, ethics, fatalism, and death. (shrink)
According to the No Alternate Possibilities argument, if time passes then the rate at which it passes could be different. Thus, time cannot pass, since if time passes, then necessarily it passes at a rate of 1 second per second. One response to this argument is to posit hypertime, and to argue that at different worlds, time passes at different rates when measured against hypertime. Since many A-theorists think we can make sense of temporal passage without (...) positing hypertime, we pursue a different response. We describe several worlds that do not contain hypertime, but do contain differential passage: worlds where time passes at different rates in different subregions within the same world. Hence we argue that even if we focus just on the set of worlds that do not contain hypertime (whether this is all, or only some of the worlds) we find that not all these worlds are such that time passes at a rate of 1 second per second. Thus the No Alternate Possibilities argument fails even when restricted to just this set of worlds. (shrink)
The present paper offers a philosophical discussion of phenomena which in the empirical literature have recently been subsumed under the concept of ‘mental time travel’. More precisely, the paper considers differences and similarities between two cases of ‘mental time travel’, recollective memories (‘R-memories’) of past events on the one hand, and sensory imaginations (‘S-imaginations’) of future events on the other. It develops and defends the claim that, because a subject who R-remembers a past event is experientially aware of (...) a past particular event, while a subject who S-imagines a future event could not possibly be experientially aware of a future particular event, R-memories of past events and S-imaginations of future events are ultimately mental occurrences of two different kinds. (shrink)
A variety of ideas arising in decoherence theory, and in the ongoing debate over Everett's relative-state theory, can be linked to issues in relativity theory and the philosophy of time, specifically the relational theory of tense and of identity over time. These have been systematically presented in companion papers (Saunders 1995; 1996a); in what follows we shall consider the same circle of ideas, but specifically in relation to the interpretation of probability, and its identification with relations in the (...) Hilbert Space norm. The familiar objection that Everett's approach yields probabilities different from quantum mechanics is easily dealt with. The more fundamental question is how to interpret these probabilities consistent with the relational theory of change, and the relational theory of identity over time. I shall show that the relational theory needs nothing more than the physical, minimal criterion of identity as defined by Everett's theory, and that this can be transparently interpreted in terms of the ordinary notion of the chance occurrence of an event, as witnessed in the present. It is in this sense that the theory has empirical content. (shrink)
This paper argues for the following disjunction: either we do not live in a world with a branching temporal structure, or backwards time travel is nomologically impossible, given the initial state of the universe, or backwards time travel to our space-time location is impossible given large-scale facts about space and time. A fortiori, if backwards time travel to our location is possible, we do not live in a branching universe.
Philosophy of time, as practiced throughout the last hundred years, is both language- and existence-obsessed. It is language-obsessed in the sense that the primary venue for attacking questions about the nature of time—in sharp contrast to the primary venue for questions about space—has been philosophy of language. Although other areas of philosophy have long recognized that there is a yawning gap between language and the world, the message is spreading slowly in philosophy of time. Since twentieth-century analytic (...) philosophy as a whole often drew metaphysical conclusions from arguments with linguistic premises, philosophy of time perhaps may be forgiven for this transgression. Connected to this language-saturated way of doing philosophy, however, is a hitherto unnoticed obsession, equally unhealthy; namely, an obsession with existence. Existence draws the very lines of debate in philosophy of time: “eternalists” believe past, present and future events all ‘equally’ exist, “possibilists” believe that past and present events exist, and “presentists” believe that only present events enjoy this lofty status. These differences between what events exist as of some other time are supposed to explain the main puzzles surrounding time. This fixation on existence, I submit, is a lingering symptom of the language-saturated days of philosophy of time. And just as linguistic issues such as the ineliminability of tense fail to elucidate time and temporal experience, so too do the “existence debates” fail to explain much of what is interesting about time. Philosophers should have more to say about such a fascinating topic. (shrink)
Our model of time is the classical continuum of real numbers, and our model of other measurable quantities that change over time is that of functions defined on real numbers with real numbers as values. This model is not derived from reality or from our experience of it, but imposed on reality; and the fit is very imperfect. In classical mathematics, the value of a function for any real number as argument is independent of its value for any (...) other argument: the analogue is Hume's doctrine that events are loose and separate. This makes continuity in the change of any quantity a contingent law of physica, rather than a conceptual necessity. The article explores alternatives to this classical model. (shrink)
While experience tells us that time flows from the past to the present and into the future, a number of philosophical and physical objections exist to this commonsense view of dynamic time. In an attempt to make sense of this conundrum, philosophers and physicists are forced to confront fascinating questions, such as: Can effects precede causes? Can one travel in time? Can the expansion of the Universe or the process of measurement in quantum mechanics define a direction (...) in time? In this book, researchers from both physics and philosophy attempt to answer these issues in an interesting, yet rigorous way. This fascinating book will be of interest to physicists and philosophers of science and educated general readers interested in the direction of time. (shrink)