Time Travel and the Paranormal
Flew (Anthony)
Source: Philosophy, Vol. 63, No. 244 (Apr., 1988), pp. 266-268
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. In "Sorensen (Roy) - Time Travel, Parahistory and Hume", Roy Sorensen adopts a strategy of curiously, not to say perversely, indirect approach. For he begins by assuming that Hume redivivus would dismiss any reports of ostensible time travel1 on grounds similar to those upon which the historic Hume did actually dismiss all reports of the occurrence of 'miracles and prodigies'. So, Sorensen sadly says, 'the reasoning underlying Hume's famous scepticism about miracles dooms my tales of time travel2 to an incredulous reception'. And furthermore, Sorensen continues, 'the scepticism about time travel3 that I attribute to Hume should also be shared by his followers'. Sorensen then proceeds to explain that for him:
      The key question will not be 'Is time travel4 possible?' We shall instead ask whether it is possible to justify a belief in a report of time travel5. The metaphysical issue will only be addressed in response to the question of whether one can be an epistemological sceptic about time travel6 without being a metaphysical sceptic.
  2. But now, by what right does Sorensen assume that either the historic Hume or any of 'his followers' among our own contemporaries either must or even could allow talk about time travel7 to be coherent? It is perhaps conceivable that an overwhelming campaign of subtle and plausible persuasion might, in the end, have induced Hume to concede that such talk is not, what at both first and second sight it appears to be, paradigmatically self-contradictory. Nevertheless, until and unless this has been conceded, there is no room for raising any speculative questions as to whether or, if so, how we might know that someone had, as a matter of fact, returned from a time tour.

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