Skow on Robust Passage and the Moving Spotlight Theory
Deasy (Daniel)
Source: Philosophical Studies 175: 1791-1805
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. "Skow (Bradford) - Objective Becoming" (2015) is a strikingly original and philosophically rich contribution to contemporary philosophy of time. The book rewards very careful study, and is surely a ‘must-read’ for anyone with an interest in current debates concerning time and change. Perhaps the most immediately compelling aspect of the book is its leading question: if I [Skow] didn’t already accept the ‘block universe theory’ (BU), which theory of time would I defend? Skow’s surprising (and, from my perspective, welcome!) answer is that he would defend some version of the Moving Spotlight Theory (MST). However, Skow’s reason for this answer is less familiar: it is that MST – unlike BU and its popular rival Presentism – ‘contains robust passage’. Skow goes on to (quite convincingly, in my view) defend two versions of MST against a number of common objections: ‘MSTSupertense’ and ‘MST-Time’.
  2. There is no way to do justice to Skow’s densely argued book in a short paper such as this; and, as listing the points on which we agree (of which there are many) would hardly further the relevant debates, it is natural to focus on some of the points on which we disagree, and on where (I think) the arguments of the book are less successful.
    • Thus, in the first part of this paper (§1), I investigate the question of what it is for a theory to contain robust passage in Skow’s sense. In particular, I argue that given Skow’s arguments in favour of robust passage, he should probably not count MST-Time as a theory that contains robust passage. I also argue that there are better reasons to reject BU than those Skow describes.
    • In the second part of the paper (§2), I focus on Skow’s MST-Supertense. I argue that there are reasons for MSTers to reject MST-Supertense in favour of a more ‘traditional’ version of MST (the view I call ‘Classic MST’).


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