Absolute Simultaneity and the Infinity of Time
Smith (Quentin)
Source: Robin Le Poidevin, Questions of Time and Tense. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 135-183
Paper - Abstract

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Introductory Section

  1. Philosophers frequently assume that the nature of things, events, properties, causality1, free will and the like is a matter for philosophers to determine, not scientists. But many philosophers assume that the nature of time is the topic of physics, specifically, Einstein's theory of relativity, and that this nature is not something that can be discovered in part or as a whole by philosophical investigation alone.
  2. But this is not the case, if only for the reason that philosophy is a part of physics (and of the sciences in general); there is no such division between philosophy and science as is often supposed, or even the "continuum" between philosophy and science that is associated with Quine-type views, which implies that at one end of the continuum there exists some philosophy that is not a part of science. For example, metaphysics and the philosophy of language can be viewed as the part of physics that is used to interpret the mathematical formulae or theorems that are taken to be confirmed by the observational data, and that is used to decide among the many theorems that are taken to be confirmed to some degree by the observational data.
  3. Philosophy is a part of other sciences as well. According to the traditional syntactic theory of science, science consists of a system of theorems, taken as syntactic strings, rules relating these strings to possible observations, and semantic interpretations of these theorems. I would add that philosophy is the "semantic interpretation" part of science. According to the more recent semantic theory of science, science consists of models and hypotheses about certain analogies and disanalogies of the models to reality. I would add that philosophy is the hypothesizing about the analogies and disanalogies of the models to reality.
  4. With this understanding of philosophy, I will argue that the philosophical portions of the Special Theory of Relativity's concept of time, the General Theory of Relativity's concept of time, and the standard quantum mechanical concept of time, consist in part of unsound verificationist arguments in metaphysics and the philosophy of language and that these theories need to be replaced by a certain non-verificationist theory I shall describe.
  5. I shall argue that the correct, non-verificationist, philosophical part of physics implies that abstract objects exist in time, that temporal relations among all physical events are absolute rather than relative to a reference frame, that physical clocks do not measure the metric of time, that there is time before the big bang, that past and future time are infinite, and that time as a whole consists of an infinite number of infinitely long temporal series.
  6. The present essay can be viewed as building upon the argument for the tensed theory of time articulated in Smith (1993a), specifically, the argument for the theory of "absolute presentness". This is a tensed theory of time that implies there is a single "absolute tide of becoming" that encompasses all concrete and abstract objects. The theory of absolute presentness, rather than the theory of a tenseless, verificationist and relativist time, is the philosophy of time that arguably belongs to the philosophical part of physics.

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