Absolute becoming, relational becoming and the arrow of time
Dorato (Mauro)
Source: Forthcoming in Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. The first and main claim of this paper is that physics cannot provide, empirical evidence for the objectivity (mind-independence) of absolute becoming, for the simple reason that it must presuppose it, at least to the extent that a classical (i.e., non-quantum) spacetime theory presupposes a priori an ontology of events.
  2. However, the fact that a theory of absolute becoming must be situated in the abstract realm of metaphysics does not make becoming completely irrelevant for physics, since my second claim will consist in showing that relational becoming, once appropriately defined and understood, properly belongs to the tangled set of issues usually referred to with the label “the arrow of time”.
  3. The paper is divided into three parts.
    1. In the first I will strike a blow against the traditional, received views of becoming, typically requiring the unreality of the future as a necessary condition for the objectivity or mind-independence of temporal passage.
    2. After having severed the misleading link between the concept of becoming and the unfortunate debate between presentism and eternalism, in the second part I will offer a much needed, clear explication of becoming, given in terms of the simple occurrence of events. I will then defend this approach to becoming from foreseeable objections, especially concerning its faithfulness to the time of our experience.
    3. After having crucially distinguished between absolute and relational becoming, in the third part I will bring spacetime physics to bear on the explication of becoming. In particular, I will show why the definability of a becoming relation in terms of the relation of past causal (or chronological) connectibility of Minkowski spacetime gives us no clue as to how we should use physics to establish the mind-independence of the former relation.

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