- This pseudo-Paper is intended as the mechanism to record time spent on the Note 'Time1' during my Thesis research, as from 2011.
- For the actual time recorded, click on "Paper Statistics" above.
Write-up2 (as at 30/11/2019 22:58:05): Time
- I don’t think I need to wade too deeply in the topic of time for the purposes of my thesis, dealing as it does with the dispute between Animalism and the Constitution View and the possibilities of Transhumanism and post-mortem survival, but it’s clearly central to the topic of diachronic identity, ie. identity over time. It’s also an interesting and important topic in its own right, one on which every metaphysician needs to have a worked-out position.
- Aspects of particular interest include:-
- The Endurantism4, Exdurantism5, Perdurantism6 debate. Perdurantism may solve the identity-related problems of fission7, at least according to Lewis8.
- The claim that Presentist theories of time seem to undermine non-endurantist theories of persistence, though this is disputed.
- Parfit’s9 contention that we should discount the concern we owe to our future selves proportionate to our likely lack of psychological connection.
- Time Travel10: maybe surprisingly, this alleged possibility appears in various TEs11 on Fission12. I have given it its own Note and Reading List.
- Theories of Time: This is not yet the place to expatiate on these. Enough to note what they are:-
- Growing Block:
- Moving Spotlight:
- Red Lines: There are certain things required of any theory of time, and certain boundaries that cannot be crossed:-
- Science: Any philosophical theory of time must take account of the best science of the day13.
- The past is fixed: While it may be possible retrospectively to change the truth-value of statements made in the past, or the importance of actions in the light of the then future, it is not possible to change what actually happened. Also, what happened in the past is not dependant on our present evidence.
- A Rant!
- Any philosophy of time needs to be informed by the best science of the day14.
- That said, there are issues with tying it too closely to physics, in that there is currently – and may never be – a complete and unified physical theory of the universe. All theories are of parts of reality and there are conflicts at the edges and much current disagreement about the unification of the various partial theories into a Grand Unified Theory.
- There are doubts about the metaphysical implications of any partial theory, since it is only an approximation to the truth that makes accurate predictions in a wider or narrower – but not universal – domain.
- But again, that said, ignoring physics entirely and relying on common sense is also a mistake. Often “common sense” is just the physics of the past and is based on theories even more partial than the current ones.
- I suspect that the common-sense idea of “the present” is that which Newton relied on in his dynamical theories, where a single universal time is posited. Newtonian dynamics is very useful and is good enough in the everyday scenarios, as everyone knows, but falls short for speeds approaching that of light, or close to massive gravitating bodies, both of which can slow the passage of time (or at lease the rate of change).
- Much of modern physics deals with domains where common sense is not only of little use, but is a hindrance. It’s not really possible to make “common sense” of quantum indeterminacy or the distortion of spacetime by gravitating bodies. So, I have my doubts about any philosophy of time based on armchair thoughts about people walking across rooms.
- However, there’s no simple answer to the metaphysics of time. There are philosophers who are well informed of modern physics who are presentists. However, one must be careful not to cherry-pick those philosopher-scientist that can be taken to agree with you, such as Lee Smolin, while ignoring the consensus, if there is one.
- I’m aware that there’s a suggestion that disagreements about time are purely verbal. If the past (or the future) exists, it doesn’t exist in the same way as the present, in that it is inaccessible. However, it’s a travesty to say that the past – if it still exists – is “still happening” somewhere. No doubt the idea is that – viewed in some sort of hypertime – it could be “re-played” on request.
- What concerns us all, I submit, is that the past – in the sense of what has happened – ought to be immutable. The import of what has happened, and the truth-value of certain statements15 – may be changed by future events, but not the happening itself. Now this is common sense, and maybe some future physics will undermine it, but some of the “paradoxes” of time travel seem to be contradictions.
- What I don’t think we should do is confound epistemology with metaphysics. The Logical Positivists – like Hume – had many sensible things to say about consigning armchair metaphysics to the dustbin. Anything that relies neither on “quantity” or experience is highly suspect if it makes claims about the world. There can be truths that we can never know. There is – I submit – a fact of the matter about what if anything Caesar had for breakfast on the Ides of March, though we can most likely never know what it was. I’m not sure there’s any support for “unknowable truths” from quantum mechanics, however. There are pairs of quantities that cannot both be known exactly, but it’s not clear that there’s a fact of the matter of which we’re necessarily ignorant, or whether there’s no fact of the matter at all. Common sense doesn’t help here.
- There’s a distinction between what it is rational to believe, and what is true. It’s rational, and maybe obligatory, for non-physicists to go along with the consensus of whatever is said by mainstream physics, even though this is suspected of being incomplete and many claims may turn out to be false. But the statements when true aren’t made true by the fact that consensus physics makes them.
- By analogy, it’s rational, though maybe less obligatory, to go along with the consensus account of historical events, though maybe not as obligatory as history is more generally accessible than physics, and detailed assessment of the evidence and historical reconstruction is less difficult for the non-specialist.
- However, there’s a contrast between what makes statements about the current world true and those of the past. The present world is open to inspection, so – roughly – the truth-makers are those of empirical investigation. With respect to the past, some truth-makers will be empirically-derived theory (if we can wind the laws of physics backwards, we can know what must have happened in the past), but what if there is no such relevant theory?
- In such a case, the evidence that justifies rational belief in statements about the past may indeed well be the theories and evidences of the best-qualified historians – given that as a matter of empirical fact, modern historians – at least in the liberal West – are an honest and conscientious bunch. But their conscientiousness and evidence is not what makes their statements true – only making it rational for us to believe them. What makes them true is whether they happened as described (subject to interpretive caveats).
- What we need to know is what would be the case if – as in the dystopia of 1984 – the job of the Ministry of Truth is to destroy the evidence down the memory holes. Clearly Orwell believes that this is a reductio ad absurdum of the view that the truth-makers of statements about the past are restricted to present evidence. Winston Smith knows that there’s a concerted attempt to destroy evidence because it’s his job to do it, but the reason he’s concerned is that his memories tell him that the attempt fails to actually change the past, and he doesn’t accept double-think as a way out.
- So, I think we end up with the truth-makers of true statements about the past – in default of anything else – being the past itself. If this requires that the past exists in some sense, then I suppose it does, but it’s open to metaphysicians to think up some other scheme. But relying on “present evidence” as a truth-maker is absurd, as evidence is open to malign influence, or simple chance events.
- Getting back to Caesar’s breakfast, while we may never know, there’s a fact of the matter, just as there’s a fact of the matter what I had for breakfast 3 years ago today, though I’ve no evidence or memory of what it was. To deny this is to deny a very strong intuition.
- Works on this topic that I’ve actually read16, include the following:-
- "Aguirre (Anthony) - The Cosmic Now", Aguirre
- "Bais (Sander) - Very Special Relativity: An Illustrated Guide", Bais
- "Botros (Sophie) - Truth, Time and History: A Philosophical Enquiry", Botros
- "Botros (Sophie) - Truth, Time and History - A Philosophical Inquiry with Dr Sophie Botros", Botros
- "Crull (Elise) - You thought quantum mechanics was weird: check out entangled time", Crull
- "Dainton (Barry) - Time and Space: Preface", Dainton
- "Dyke (Heather) - Review of Craig Bourne's 'A Future for Presentism'", Dyke
- "Hawking (Stephen) - Space and Time Warps", Hawking
- "Kurtz (Roxanne) - Introduction to Persistence: What’s the Problem?", Kurtz
- "LePoidevin (Robin) - Travels in Four Dimensions: Preface", LePoidevin
- "LePoidevin (Robin) - Travels in Four Dimensions: Concluding Thoughts", LePoidevin
- "Lewis (David) - The Problem of Temporary Intrinsics", Lewis
- "Markosian (Ned) - Time", Markosian
- "McTaggart (J. McT. E.) - Time (The Unreality of Time)", McTaggart
- "Mellor (D.H.) - Real Time: Preface", Mellor
- "Mellor (D.H.) - Real Time: Introduction and Summary", Mellor
- "Mellor (D.H.) - Real Time II: Preface", Mellor
- "Mellor (D.H.) - Real Time II: Introduction", Mellor
- "Orwell (George), Davison (Peter), Taylor (D.J.), Ed. - Nineteen Eighty-Four: The Annotated Edition", Orwell
- "Rovelli (Carlo) - Hot black holes and the arrow of time", Rovelli
- "Sklar (Lawrence) - Space, Time and Spacetime: Preface for the Paperback Edition", Sklar
- "Sklar (Lawrence) - Space, Time and Spacetime: Introduction", Sklar
- "Sklar (Lawrence) - Space, Time and Spacetime: Epilogue", Sklar
- "Torrengo (Giuliano) & Mariani (Cristian) - Review of James Harrington, 'Time: A Philosophical Introduction'", Torrengo & Mariani
- I’ve always thought it foolish to expatiate on the philosophy of time while in ignorance of special relativity, but this is a difficult sub-sub-topic17.
- It’s difficult to know where to start for a reading list, but I’ve decided on the following, in the order and for the reasons given in the footnotes:-
- "LePoidevin (Robin) - Travels in Four Dimensions: The Enigmas of Space and Time", LePoidevin18
- "Dainton (Barry) - Time and Space", Dainton19
- "LePoidevin (Robin) & MacBeath (Murray), Eds. - The Philosophy of Time: Oxford Readings in Philosophy", LePoidevin & MacBeath20
- "Bourne (Craig) - A Future for Presentism", Bourne21
- "Skow (Bradford) - Objective Becoming", Skow22
- "Boccardi (Emiliano), Ed. - Manuscrito vol. 39 no.4: Recent Trends in the Philosophy of Time: An Introduction to Time and Reality - I", Boccardi23
- "Boccardi (Emiliano), Ed. - Manuscrito vol. 40 no.1: The Passage of Time and its Enemies: An Introduction to Time and Reality - II", Boccardi
- A further reading list (where not covered elsewhere24) might start with:-
- "Adams (Robert Merrihew) - Actualism and Thisness", Adams
- "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Temporal Reality", Baker
- "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Time", Baker
- "Balashov (Yuri) & Janssen (Michel) - Presentism and Relativity", Balashov & Janssen
- "Besson (Corine) & Hattiangadi (Anandi) - The Open Future, Bivalence and Assertion", Besson
- "Bigelow (John) - Presentism and Properties", Bigelow
- "Bourne (Craig) - A Future for Presentism", Bourne
- "Campbell (Joseph Keim), O'Rourke (Michael) & Silverstein (Harry S.) - Time and Identity", Campbell, etc.
- "Coope (Ursula) - Why Does Aristotle Say That There Is No Time without Change?", Coope25
- "Correia (Fabrice) & Rosenkranz (Sven) - Unfreezing the Spotlight: Tense Realism and Temporal Passage", Correia & Rosenkrantz
- "Costa (Damiano), Gilmore (Cody) & Calosi (Claudio) - Relativity and Three Four-Dimensionalisms", Costa Etc.
- "Craig (William Lane) - The Tensed Theory of Time", Craig
- "Craig (William Lane) - The Tenseless Theory of Time", Craig
- "Dainton (Barry) - Time and Space", Dainton
→ "Oaklander (L. Nathan) - Review of Barry Dainton's 'Time and Space'"
- Natalja Deng: Various papers, starting with
→ "Deng (Natalja) - One Thing After Another: Why the Passage of Time is Not an Illusion"
- Mauro Dorato: Various papers, starting with
→ "Dorato (Mauro) - Presentism / Eternalism and Endurantism / Perdurantism: why the unsubstantiality of the first debate implies that of the second", Dorato
→ "Dorato (Mauro) - Presentism and the Experience of Time", Dorato
→ "Dorato (Mauro) - The Irrelevance of the Presentist / Eternalist Debate for the Ontology of Minkowski Spacetime", Dorato
- "Dyke (Heather) - McTaggart and the Truth about Time", Dyke
- "Fischer (Florian) - Philosophy of time: A slightly opinionated introduction", Fischer
- "Friebe (Cord) - Eternalism and the Temporal Content of Persistence", Friebe
- "Friebe (Cord) - Metametaphysics: the Ontology of Spacetime and the Presentist/Eternalist Debate", Friebe
- "Ingram (David) & Tallant (Jonathan) - Presentism", Ingram & Tallant
- "Lebens (Samuel) & Goldschmidt (Tyron) - The Promise of a New Past", Lebens & Goldschmidt
- "Markosian (Ned) - A Defense of Presentism", Markosian
- "Markosian (Ned) - How Fast Does Time Pass?", Markosian
- "Markosian (Ned) - The Open Past", Markosian
- "Markosian (Ned) - The Truth About the Past and the Future", Markosian
- "McTaggart (J. McT. E.) - The Unreality of Time", McTaggart
- "Mellor (D.H.) - Real Time II", Mellor26
- "Olson (Eric) - The Passage of Time", Olson
- "Olson (Eric) - The Rate of Time’s Passage", Olson
- "Paul (L.A.) - Temporal Experience", Paul
- "Prior (Arthur N.) - Papers on Time and Tense", Prior
- "Prior (Arthur N.) - Some Free Thinking About Time", Prior
- "Prior (Arthur N.) - Thank Goodness That's over", Prior
- "Prior (Arthur N.) - The Notion of the Present", Prior
- "Putnam (Hilary) - Time and Physical Geometry", Putnam
- "Roselli (Andrea) - How Long is Now? A New Perspective on the Specious Present", Roselli
- "Rovelli (Carlo) - The Order of Time", Rovelli
- "Russell (Bertrand) - On the Experience of Time", Russell
- "Sattig (Thomas) - The Flow of Time in Experience", Sattig
- "Sattig (Thomas) - The Language and Reality of Time", Sattig
- "Savitt (Steven) - Presentism and Eternalism in Perspective", Savitt
- "Shoemaker (Sydney) - Time Without Change", Shoemaker
- "Sider (Ted) - Against Presentism", Sider
- "Sider (Ted) - Presentism and Ontological Commitment", Sider
- "Skow (Bradford) - On the meaning of the question 'How fast does time pass?'", Skow
- "Skow (Bradford) - “One Second Per Second”", Skow
- "Smart (J.C.C.) - The River of Time", Smart
- "Smart (J.C.C.) - Spatialising Time", Smart
- "Sullivan (Meghan) - Change We Can Believe In (and Assert)", Sullivan
- "Sullivan (Meghan) - The minimal A-theory", Sullivan
- "Swinburne (Richard) - The Beginning of the Universe", Swinburne
- "Taylor (Richard) - Space and Time", Taylor
- "Taylor (Richard) - The Relativity of Time and Space", Taylor
- "Taylor (Richard) - Temporal Passage", Taylor
- "Torrengo (Giuliano) - Time and Simple Existence", Torrengo
- "Williams (Donald C.) - The Myth of Passage", Williams
- "Zimmerman (Dean) - Persistence and Presentism", Zimmerman
- "Zimmerman (Dean) - Temporary Intrinsics and Presentism", Zimmerman
- "Zimmerman (Dean) - The A-Theory of Time, The B-Theory of Time, and ‘Taking Tense Seriously’", Zimmerman
- This is mostly a place-holder27.
- This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (30/11/2019 22:58:05).
- Link to Latest Write-Up Note.
Footnote 14: Footnote 15:
- I’m warned by a philosopher-friend that “I would beware of stating anything about modern physics as though it were set in stone – have a look at the work of Lee Smolin. There are many contradictions which still need resolution. ”
- But, serendipitously, I came across the following passage in Aeon: Baggott - But is it science? (sub-titled “Theoretical physicists who say the multiverse exists set a dangerous precedent: science based on zero empirical evidence”)
Successful theories are essential to this progress. When you use Google Maps on your smartphone, you draw on a network of satellites orbiting Earth at 20,000 kilometres, of which four are needed for the system to work, and between six and 10 are ‘visible’ from your location at any time. Each of these satellites carries a miniaturised atomic clock, and transmits precise timing and position data to your device that allow you to pinpoint your location and identify the fastest route to the pub. But without corrections based on Albert Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity, the Global Positioning System would accumulate clock errors, leading to position errors of up to 11 kilometres per day. Without these rather abstract and esoteric – but nevertheless highly successful – theories of physics, after a couple of days you’d have a hard time working out where on Earth you are.
- So, if I say “there will be a sea-battle tomorrow”, and that happening is contingent, then this is just a speculation with a greater or lesser probability of truth, though it may subsequently turn out to have been correct or incorrect as the case may be.
Footnote 18: Footnote 19:
- Books / Chapters to read would include:-
→ "Davies (Paul C.W.) - About Time: Einstein's Unfinished Revolution", Davies
→ "French (A.P.) - Special Relativity", French
→ "Godfrey-Smith (William) - Special Relativity and the Present", Godfrey-Smith
→ "Maxwell (Nicholas) - Are Probabilism and Special Relativity Incompatible?", Maxwell
→ "Maxwell (Nicholas) - Are Probabilism and Special Relativity Compatible?", Maxwell
→ "Mellor (D.H.) - Special Relativity and Present Truth", Mellor
→ "Rindler (Wolfgang) - Introduction to Special Relativity", Rindler
→ "Savitt (Steven) - There's No Time Like the Present (in Minkowski Spacetime)", Savitt
→ "Schutz (Bernard) - A First Course in General Relativity", Chapter 1, Schutz
→ "Skow (Bradford) - Relativity and the Moving Spotlight", Skow
→ "Stein (Howard) - A Note on Time and Relativity Theory", Stein
→ "Stein (Howard) - On Einstein-Minkowski Space-Time", Stein
→ "Taylor (Edwin F.) & Wheeler (John Archibald) - Spacetime Physics - Introduction to Special Relativity", Taylor
→ "Weingard (Robert) - Relativity and the Reality of Past and Future Events", Weingard
- Plus the occasional item in the “already read” list!
- A much more difficult “introduction”.
- A collection of classic texts.
- A defense of presentism, including an attempt to reconcile the theory with SR.
- A defense of the “growing block” view.
- The first of two issues of Manuscrito that surveys the current (as of late 2016) state of debate on the topic of time.
Footnote 25: Footnote 26:
- Ie. works cited above, or those related to Persistence or Time travel.
- I have considered all the references in "Markosian (Ned) - Time", acquired what I can, and listed them all one way or another in this Note where they are not pre-emptively relevant to the above topics.
- There appears to be a distressingly large number of books on this list!
- I note a further bunch, which I’ll decide on in due course:-
→ "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - On the Mind-Dependence of Temporal Becoming", Baker
→ "Baker (Lynne Rudder) - Temporal Becoming: The Argument from Physics", Baker
→ "Kripke (Saul) - A Puzzle about Time and Thought", Kripke
→ "Lombard (Lawrence B.) - On the Alleged Incompatibility of Presentism and Temporal Parts", Lombard
→ "Lucas (J.R.) - The Future - An Essay on God, Temporality and Truth", Lucas
→ "Markosian (Ned) - On Language and the Passage of Time", Markosian
→ "Mellor (D.H.) - The Self from Time to Time", Mellor
→ "Myro (George) - Identity and Time", Myro
→ "Oaklander (L. Nathan) - Time and Identity", Oaklander
→ "Over (D.E.) - On a Temporal Slippery Slope Paradox", Over
→ "Savitt (Steven) - The Replacement of Time", Savitt
→ "Schlesinger (George N.) - How Time Flies", Schlesinger
→ "Sklar (Lawrence) - Space, Time and Spacetime", Sklar
→ "Stump (Eleonore) & Kretzmann (Norman) - Eternity", Stump
→ "Torrengo (Giuliano) - Feeling the Passing of Time", Torrengo
→ "Torrengo (Giuliano) - The Myth of Presentism’s Intuitive Appeal", Torrengo
→ "Trupp (Andreas) - Time", Trupp
→ "Valberg (J.J.) - Time and the Horizon", Valberg
→ "Van Inwagen (Peter) - Temporality", Van Inwagen
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)