Time, Tense, and Causation


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Rutgers University. Holographic spacetime - Banks, Tom Int. D21 MersiniHoughton and R. Vaas eds. An Holographic cosmology - Banks, T. Holographic cosmology - Banks, T.


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The View From Everywhere

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The Experience and Perception of Time

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Investigation of Classical Electrodynamics. The Most Sacred Tenet - Causal Reasoning in Physics. Investigations in Modal and Tense Logics with Applications to. Problems in Philosophy and Linguistics Synthese Library. Hellems Main Projects: A book on causation and a book on the refutation of skepticism. Non-Philosophical Interests : Pool, golf, skiing, and bridge. Abortion: Three Perspectives. Knowledge of God.

Time, tense, and causation - Ghent University Library

One version of presentism might allow that all ersatz times that ever will exist do, tenselessly exist. On such a view it would be natural to model temporal passage in terms of the movement of presentness through these ersatz times, where the movement of presentness would consist in the changing of which ersatz time is concretely realised.

Such a view would look a lot like the moving spotlight view, except that rather than the spotlight ranging over a bunch of concretely realised moments, it ranges over ersatz times, and where the light shines is the one and only concretely realised moment. Here, again, on this model of temporal passage, it is clear that temporal passage makes a non-qualitative difference to any time.

It makes a difference to the way the world is, to be sure. After all, it makes a difference to which time is concretely realised, and which is not, and that is a real difference. But consider any particular time. There is no change in what exists, or what properties are instantiated, at that time. The becoming present of a time makes no qualitative difference because the properties of the moment do not change.

The propositions that are true in the present are no different to those that are true when the present time is no longer present. So, here again, it seems that temporal passage makes a non-qualitative difference; thus if it makes a difference to our phenomenology that difference is non-physical.

Thus if this is what temporal passage consists in, the presentist can only avail herself of the argument from temporal phenomenology if she is willing to reject physicalism. Perhaps, then, there are other options open to the presentist. Perhaps the presentist can hold that temporal passage makes a qualitative difference. The presentist might suggest that there really is a property of presentness that a single time, the present, instantiates, and that it is in virtue of instantiating this property that our temporal phenomenology is as it is.

To make this fly, of course, the presentist will need to say that presentness is a qualitative property. So, let us consider some options. For simplicity, let us begin by supposing that presentism is the view that a a single three-dimensional region of space exists, simpliciter and b which single three-dimensional region of space, exists, simpliciter , changes. We do not expect that most presentists suppose that this is true, and we will return to the assumption shortly.


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Then presentism is the view that temporal passage consists in the coming into existence of a new three-dimensional slice of being, and the cessation of existence of the previous three-dimensional slice of being. The aim is to show that given this version of presentism, temporal passage makes no difference to our temporal phenomenology.

The idea is this. We will not defend this principle here, and clearly the dynamist could reject it. Since according to this version of presentism it is a new three-dimensional region of space that comes into existence as time passes, it is possible to 'patch together' intrinsic duplicates of each slice that comes into and out of existence in the presentist world, to create a block universe world in which the B-series ordering of events is the same as the A-series ordering of events in the presentist world.

Since the block universe world is a time-for-time intrinsic duplicate of every time in the presentist world, the temporal phenomenology in that world will be the same as the temporal phenomenology in the presentist world. But then temporal passage in the presentist world fails to make any difference to the temporal phenomenology in that world. Here is the argument:. Temporal passage makes a physical difference to our phenomenology only if the mental states M M n upon which that phenomenology supervenes, are typically appropriately casually connected to the existence of temporal passage.

There exists a block universe world, w b , every one of whose times is an intrinsic qualitative duplicate of a time in a presentist world, w p , and such that the times in w b are ordered, via the B-series, in the same order as those in w p are ordered via the A-series. Since presentness is an intrinsic property, and every time in w p instantiates presentness, every time in w b instantiates presentness.

Since the mental states in w b are intrinsic duplicates of those in w p , and since the same causal connections hold between the mental sates in w b as between the duplicate mental states in w p , the mental states in w b have the same content as the mental states in w p. Therefore the content of phenomenal states in w b is the same as the content of phenomenal states in w p. Therefore, if the phenomenology in w b is as of passage, then it is illusory, and if the phenomenology is veridical then the phenomenology in w b is not as of passage.

Therefore, since the phenomenology in w p is the same as that in w b , and since the causal connections between the mental states and the world in w p are the same as those in w b , then either the phenomenology in w p is as of passage, and is illusory, or the phenomenology is not as of passage.

But if the phenomenology in w p is either illusory, or is not a phenomenology as of passage, then the presence of passage makes no physical difference to that phenomenology. Assuming for a moment that one accepts the premises to this argument, it shows that this kind of presentist passage makes no physical difference to our temporal phenomenology. So if it makes any difference, it must be a non-physical difference.

Thus, if one accepts the PPA, one should conclude that the argument from temporal phenomenology is a good one only if physicalism is false. In what follows, we defend the PPA. There are two obvious places where one might resist the argument. Both lie in the supposition that w b is possible. First, one might be a necessitarian and suppose that presentism, if true, is true of necessity.

But then w b is not possible. We assume that when the presentist says that presentism is true of necessity, she means that any world that contains temporal relations is a presentist world. But then we can re-cast the argument. Suppose that w b is a four-dimensional world in which we patch together each of the three-dimensional slices in the presentist world.

Now grant that those slices are not related by B-relations: instead, there exist merely geometrical and topological relations between them such that those geometrical and topological relations 'mirror' the B-relations in the presentist world. The fourth dimension in this world is not time because this is a static block world, and such worlds do not contain time.

Nevertheless it is a world with four dimensions, one of which has features that are somewhat different to those of the other three. We can think of the relation that obtains between the three-dimensional objects that are arrayed along this fourth dimension as being time-like, since they have many of the features that the non-dynamist supposes to be characteristic of actual time. One might now worry that premises 5 and 9 are false. Both appeal to the presence of causal connections between events in w b. The assumption is that the same causal connections between events in w p , is preserved in w b.

But if time is necessary for causation and there is no time in w b , then there is no causation either. Those relations will support robust counterfactual conditionals of the sort thought to be at least in part definitive of causation. The second worry is that w b is impossible because the appeal to the patching principle is illicit. We began with the supposition that the presentist holds that passage consists in the coming into and out of existence of numerically distinct regions of three-dimensional space.

That is what licensed our use of the patching principle. But presentists typically hold that there exists a single three-dimensional region, R, and temporal passage consists in that region changing its properties. Then w p is a world in which the very same piece of space exists at different times, but is different at these times. So let us consider a Newtonian block world.

A series and B series

This is a world in which space and time are absolute. More particularly, spatial points persist i. Newtonian block worlds occur when spatial regions are multiply located at different times. If there are possible Newtonian block worlds, then it is possible to patch together what exists at each moment in w p into a block universe such as w b. We have not illicitly used the patching principle. Of course, the necessitarian presentist will deny that w b , thought of as a Newtonian block world, is possible. She might contend that since time consists in the changing of a single moment, there is 'nowhen' in the Newtonian block world into which to 'paste' the duplicate slices.

That is, w b is really a world with four spatial dimensions and no temporal dimension, with the duplicated slices from the presentist world being arraigned along this fourth spatial dimension. But we should all agree that there exists a possible world that looks very much like the Newtonian block world: the presentist wants to redescribe the fourth dimension as non-temporal.

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Suppose we admit that it is. That exhausts the plausible theories of passage according to which presentness is an intrinsic qualitative property. So far we have no found a view according to which temporal passage makes a physical difference to our temporal phenomenology. In what follows, we consider theories according to which presentness is an extrinsic property. The view that presentness is an extrinsic property is motivated by the thought that part of what makes a particular moment the present one has something to do with what is going on, or not going on, at other moments.

So one might think that a crucial feature of presentism is not simply that the present moment instantiates presentness, but, rather, that what it is for it to instantiate presentness is for earlier and later moments to fail to exist. Here, we think, the presentist might endorse a sort of present-friendly version of a view more normally defended by, inter alia, some growing block theorists. According to such views, when a moment comes into existence it instantiates presentness, and the qualitative features of that moment change when it goes from being present, to being objectively past.

One example of this is known as the dead past hypothesis. Forrest ; for instance, holds that what sets the objective present apart from the objective past is the presence of incomplete causal processes in the objective present. That something is an incomplete causal process is an extrinsic matter: it depends on the existence of causes that lack effects. Further, there are qualitative properties that supervene only on incomplete causal processes: according to Forrest, phenomenal states are like this.

Thus the instantiation of presentness, at a time, makes a qualitative difference to that time, since when t instantiates presentness there exist, at t, persons who have phenomenal states, and when t ceases to instantiate presentness there exist, at t, no persons who have phenomenal states. The presentist might say something similar. According to such a view, the present moment has the qualities it does in virtue of the fact that no future and perhaps past moments exist.

Time, Tense, and Causation Time, Tense, and Causation
Time, Tense, and Causation Time, Tense, and Causation
Time, Tense, and Causation Time, Tense, and Causation
Time, Tense, and Causation Time, Tense, and Causation
Time, Tense, and Causation Time, Tense, and Causation
Time, Tense, and Causation Time, Tense, and Causation
Time, Tense, and Causation Time, Tense, and Causation
Time, Tense, and Causation Time, Tense, and Causation

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