2theory here; but hopefully the following characterization will suffice to convey, in a rough-and-ready way, the nature of the A-theorists’ convictions about time: The A-theorist grants thatevery thing in time (setting aside the possibility of a beginning or end of time itself) is “pastrelative to” some things, “future relative to” others, and “present relative to” itself — just asevery place on earth (setting aside the poles) is south relative to some places, north relative toothers, and at the same latitude as itself. But the A-theorist insists that this attractive analogybetween spatial and temporal dimensions is misleading; for, of any time or event that is past,present, or future in this merely relative way, one can also ask whether it is, in addition, past,present, or future in a
-relative way — past, present, or future
. The A-theoristtakes the merely relative A-determinations to be based upon facts concerning which times andevents are
past, present, or future, not merely relatively so. “B-theorists”, by contrast,deny the objectivity of the division of time into past, present, and future; they regard the spatialnorth-south analogy as deeply revelatory of the purely relative nature of this division (thoughmany B-theorists admit that there is some intrinsic difference between spatial and temporaldistances). To arrive at more objective facts about time, one must turn to relations like
being later than
being simultaneous with
— the “B-relations”.
The A-theory is almost certainly a minority view among contemporary philosophers withan opinion about the metaphysics of time.
Nevertheless, it has many defenders — IanHinckfuss, J. R. Lucas, E. J. Lowe, John Bigelow, Trenton Merricks, Ned Markosian, ThomasCrisp, Quentin Smith, Craig Bourne, Bradley Monton, Ross Cameron, William Lane Craig,Storrs McCall, Peter Ludlow, George Schlesinger, Robert M. Adams, Peter Forrest, and NicholasMaxwell, to name a few.
Several of the most eminent 20th century philosophers were A-theorists, notably C. D. Broad, Arthur Prior, Peter Geach, and Roderick Chisholm.