You are on page 1of 26


Time is what clocks measure. We use our concept of time to place events in sequence one after the other, to compare how long an event lasts, and to tell when an event occurs. Those are three key features of time. Yet despite 2,500 years of investigating time, many issues about it are unresolved. Here is a list of the most important ones, in no particular order: •What time actually is; •Whether time exists when nothing is changing; •What kinds of time travel are possible; •Why time has an arrow; •Whether the future and past are as real as the present; •How to analyze the metaphor of time’s flow; •Whether contingent sentences about the future have truth values; •Whether future time will be infinite; •Whether there was time before the Big Bang event; •Whether tensed or tenseless concepts are semantically basic; •What the proper formalism or logic is for capturing the special role that time plays in reasoning; •What neural mechanisms account for our experience of time; •Which aspects of time are conventional; •Why time is one-dimensional and not twodimensional; and •Whether there is a timeless substratum from which time emerges. Some of these issues will be resolved by scientific advances alone, but others require philosophical analysis. For example, we look to science to explain why time has only one dimension, but we expect that answering the question of whether the future is real is a matter for philosophical analysis. Consider this one issue upon which philosophers are deeply divided: What sort of ontological differences are there among the present, past and future? There are three competing theories. Presentists argue that necessarily only present objects and present experiences are real, and we conscious beings recognize this in the special “vividness” of our present experience. The dinosaurs have slipped out of reality. However, according to the growing-universe or growing-block theory, the past and present are both real, but the future is not real because the future is indeterminate or merely potential. Dinosaurs are real, but our death is not. The third and more popular theory is that there are no significant ontological differences among present, past, and future because the differences are merely subjective. This view is called “the block universe theory” or “eternalism.” That controversy raises the issue of tenseless versus tensed theories of time. The block universe theory implies a tenseless theory. The earliest version of this theory implied that tensed terminology can be replaced adequately with tenseless terminology. For example, the future-tensed sentence, “The Lakers will win the basketball game” might be analyzed as, “The Lakers do win at time t, and time t happens after the time of this utterance.” Notice that the future tense has been removed, and the new verb phrases “do win” and “happens after” are tenseless logically, although they are grammatically in the present tense. (Similarly, the present-tense verb “is” in “Seven plus five is twelve” isn’t only about the present.) Advocates of a tensed theory counter by saying that tenseless terminology is not semantically basic but should be analyzed in tensed terms, and that tensed facts are needed to make tensed statements be true. For example, a tensed theory might imply that no adequate account of the present tensed fact that it is now midnight can be given without irreducible tensed properties such as presentness or now-ness. So, the philosophical debate is over whether tensed concepts have semantical priority over untensed concepts, and whether tensed facts have ontological priority over untensed facts.

Table of Contents
1. 2. 3. a. b. c. d. e. f. g. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. .
What Should a Philosophical Theory of Time Do? How Is Time Related to Mind? What Is Time? The Variety of Answers Time vs. “Time” Defining Time Order with Causal Order Linear and Circular Time The Extent of Time Does Time Emerge from Something More Basic? Time and Conventionality What Does Science Require of Time? What Kinds of Time Travel Are Possible? Does Time Require Change? (Relational vs. Substantival Theories) Does Time Flow? What Gives Time Its Direction or Arrow? What Needs To Be Explained?

a. b. c. 9. . a. b. 10. 11. 12. . a. b. 13.

Explanations or Theories of the Arrow Multiple Arrows Reversing the Arrow Is Only the Present Real? Presentism, the Growing Past, and the Block Universe Enduring and Perduring Objects Truth Values and Free Will Are There Essentially-Tensed Facts? What is Temporal Logic? Supplements Frequently Asked Questions What Science Requires of Time Special Relativity: Proper Times, Coordinate Systems, and Lorentz Transformations (by Andrew Holster) References and Further Reading

1. What Should a Philosophical Theory of Time Do?
Should it define the word “time”? Yes, and as a working definition we can say time is what clocks measure or time is a sequence of moments in a linear order. However, it is improper to demand that we give a very precise and detailed definition of the word as a prelude to saying anything more about time, in large part because definitions often need to be changed when more is learned. What we really want is to build a comprehensive, philosophical theory of time that helps us understand time by solving problems about time. We do not want to start building this theory by adopting a prior, unrevisable definition of time that might prejudice the theory-building project from the beginning. In building a theory of time, we probably will need to make inferences about time from more well established theories. Although there are theories of how to solve this or that specific problem about time, it is always better to knit together solutions to several problems. Ideally, the goal is to produce a theory of time that will solve in a systematic way the constellation of problems involving time. What are those problems? One is to clarify the relationship between time and the mind. For example, does time exist for beings that have no minds? It is easy to confuse time itself with the perception of time. Another problem is to decide which of our intuitive beliefs about time should be retained when they conflict with other beliefs. Some of these intuitions may reflect deep insights into the nature of time, and others may be faulty ideas inherited from our predecessors. It is not obvious which is which. For one example, if we have the intuition that time flows, but a scientific theory implies otherwise, then is this sufficient reason to reject the scientific theory? A third problem for a philosophical theory of time is to clarify what physical science presupposes and implies about time. A later section of this article examines this topic. Most all philosophers of time claim that philosophical theories should be consistent with physical science, or, if not, then they must accept the heavy burden of proof to justify the inconsistency. A philosophical theory of time should describe the relationship between instants and events. Does the instant that we label as “11:01 A.M.” for a certain date exist independently of the events that occur then? In other words, can time exist if no event is happening? This question or problem raises the thorny metaphysical issue of relational vs. substantival theories of time. A theory of time should address the question of explaining time’s apparent direction. In space, you can go your direction and I can go mine, but in time we all go the same direction, so to speak. Why is that? If we were to view a movie of brown coffee separating into black coffee—with cream leaving it and flying up into the pitcher—we in the audience could immediately tell that the actual events did not occur in this order. We recognize this arrow of time because we know about the one-directional processes in nature. However, this unidirectionality or arrow becomes less and less apparent to us viewers as the movie subject gets smaller and smaller and the time interval gets shorter and shorter until finally we are viewing processes that could just as easily go the other way, at which point the arrow of time has disappeared. Philosophers disagree about how to explain the existence of the arrow. Another philosophical problem about time concerns the two questions, “What is the present, and why does it move into the past?” If we know what the present is, then we ought to be able to answer this question: “How

Before Libet’s work. the time that clocks are designed to measure. Psychological time is faster for older people than for children. the march of time. McTaggart’s B-theory is the right way to view time. the feature that is referred to by the word “now. Some philosophers claim that psychological time is completely transcended in the mental state called nirvanabecause psychological time slows to a complete stop. Psychological time (which is also called phenomenological time or brain time) is private time. tenses are not semantically basic. They doubt whether it is a property of time as opposed to being some feature of human perception. although many philosophers do not fit into these pigeonholes. the term “time” refers to physical time. We have immediate experiences of a difference between our present perceptions and our present memories of past perceptions. the future can not be real. Yet other philosophers are adamant that the flow is quite real objectively. or so it is claimed. but it slows dramatically if we are waiting anxiously for the water to boil on the stove. ontologically we should accept either presentism or the growing-past theory. and we would not have the freedom to affect that future. Members of the second camp say that the now is subjective and so is time’s flow. Our ability to imagine other times is definitely a necessary ingredient in our having consciousness. Members of the first camp say that the now is objectively real and so is time’s flow.” A famous philosophical argument says that. How Is Time Related to Mind? Physical time is public time. systematic. Some philosophers consider this to be a clever. Psychological time passes relatively swiftly for us while we are enjoying an activity. When a physicist defines speed to be the rate of change of position with respect to time. predictions are true or false at the time they are uttered. predictions are not true or false at the time they are uttered. Philosophers of time tend to divide into two broad camps on the philosophical issues. Within the field of cognitive science. or does it emerge from more basic timeless features–in analogy to the way the smoothness of water flow emerges from the complicated behavior of the underlying molecules? A full theory of time should address this constellation of philosophical issues about time. many philosophers are suspicious of this notion of the flow of time. present. . However. Biological time is an organism’s circadian rhythm or body clock. ontologically we should accept eternalism or the block universe theory. the clock by the stove is measuring physical time and is not affected by anybody’s awareness. but the long-range goal is to knit together these theories into a full. if the future were real. For a last example of a philosophical issue regarding time. and so it is more useful than psychological time for doing science. The slowness is probably due to focusing our attention on short intervals of physical time. Narrower theories of time will focus on resolving one or more members of this constellation. it was universally agreed that a person is aware of deciding to act freely. is time a fundamental feature of nature. Those differences are interpreted by us as evidence that the world we are experiencing is changing through time. that the brain events involved in initiating our free choices occur about a third of a second before we are aware of our choice. Are there ontological differences among the past. 2. but faulty argument.long does the present last?” And regarding the second question about the “movement” of the present into the past. Since we do have that freedom. It is perhaps best understood as awareness of physical time. tenses are semantically basic. and detailed theory of time. Physical time is more basic for helping us understand our shared experiences in the world. one wants to know what are the neural mechanisms that account not only for our experience of time’s flow. The most surprising experimental result about psychological time is Benjamin Libet’s experiments in the 1970s that show. and future? Some philosophers doubt whether the future and past are as real as the present. which is normally regulated by sunlight and thus is affected by the rotation of the Earth. This article is intended to provide an introduction to this controversy between the two camps. then later the body initiates the action. and the fundamental entities are 4-dimensional events. Meanwhile. then it would be fixed now. and the fundamental entities are 3-dimensional objects. but also for our ability to place events into the proper time order. But psychological time is vitally important for understanding many human thought processes. Libet’s own experiments have been difficult to repeat because he drilled through the skull and inserted electrodes to shock the underlying brain tissue. McTaggart’s A-theory is the right way to view time. although they do not doubt that time has a direction or arrow.

and no teacups if there were no tea drinkers. The existence of these sorts of relationships makes our system of physical laws much simpler than it otherwise would be. makes the point that the brain takes an active role in building a mental scenario of what is taking place beyond the brain. electric circuits. a ball hanging from a coiled spring. The 13th century philosophers Henry of Ghent and Giles of Rome said time exists in reality as a mind-independent continuum. we might become mentally more productive. “Whether. This controversy took another turn when other philosophers argued that both Kant and Mach were incorrect because our sense of time is an intellectual construction (see Whitrow. nothing in the world would be surprising or beautiful or interesting. which in turn is a constant multiple of the half life of a specific radioactive uranium isotope. and the other to touch one of your feet. said time is nothing in reality but exists only in the mind’s apprehension of that reality. But that’s mysterious — clearly it takes more time for the signal to travel up your nerves from your feet to your brain than from your nose. then he went to school. St. Duns Scotus clearly recognized both physical and psychological time. or frequency of occurrence relations. and learn more per minute.” and no cultural objects without a culture. Kant suggested a subtle relationship between time and mind–that our mind actually structures our perceptions so that we can know a priori that time is like a mathematical line. and trying different forms of meditation. Can we add that nothing would be in time? If judgments of time were subjective in the way judgments of being interesting vs. and get more high quality decision making done per fixed amount of physical time. death. school. a mind-dependent phenomenon? Without minds in the world. first. Any organism’s sense of time is subjective. . At the end of the 18th century. He does not answer his own question because. arguing that time exists only in the mind due to memory and expectation. it depends on whether time is the conscious numbering of movement or instead is just the capability of movements being numbered were consciousness to exist. not-interesting are subjective. Everybody agrees that it happened in this order: birth. No other order. the relationship does not change as time goes by (at least not much and not for a long time. a planet orbiting the Sun.Sean Carroll. then he died. chapter 14]. if soul (mind) did not exist. and when there is deviation we know how to predict it and compensate for it). and your brain waits for all the relevant input before it experiences the “now. Several avenues have been explored: using cocaine. the frequency of rotation of the Earth around its axis is a constant multiple of the frequency of oscillation of a fixed-length pendulum. the Persian philosopher Avicenna doubted the existence of physical time. time would exist or not. Time can be measured easily because we have access to long-term simple harmonic oscillators that have a regular period or “regular ticking. In the 19th century. Another part of the reason time is believed to be objective is that our universe has a large number of different processes that bear consistent time relations. is a question that may fairly be asked. Many of these systems make good clocks. then it would be miraculous that everyone can so easily agree on the ordering of public events in time. If so. Time is. none of these avenues have led to success productivity-wise. The stability of these relationships over a long time also makes it easy to create clocks. he says rather profoundly. In the 20th century. p. on this theory. Aristotle raised this issue of the mind-dependence of time when he said. In the 13th century. to each other. organ pipes. For example. undergoing extreme experiences such as jumping backwards off a tall tower with bungee cords attached to one’s ankles. amphetamines and other drugs. “Use one hand to touch your nose. and atoms in a crystal lattice. The agreement on time order for so many events is part of the reason that most philosophers and scientists believe physical time is an objective phenomenon that is not dependent on being consciously experienced. Einstein was born. but is the time that is sensed also subjective. So far. the philosopher of science Bas van Fraassen described physical time by saying. In the 11th century. “There would be no time were there no beings capable of reason” just as “there would be no food were there no organisms. The reconciliation is simple: our conscious experience takes time to assemble. You will experience them as simultaneous acts.” This regularity shows up in completely different stable systems when they are disturbed: a ball hanging from a string (a pendulum).” Psychologists have investigated whether we can speed up our minds relative to physical time. and our sense of time is a necessary condition of our experience or sensation. 64).” Experiments have shown that the lag between things happening and us experiencing them is about 80 milliseconds. but is distinguished into earlier and later parts only by the mind. at exactly the same time. and it makes us more confident that there is something objective we are referring to with the timevariable in those laws. in the following quotation. For example. a form of conscious experience. adopting a subjective view of time. Ernst Mach claimed instead that our sense of time is a simple sensation. for if there cannot be someone to count there cannot be anything that can be counted…” [Physics. not an a priori form of sensation. Augustine.

showed us that time depends on the observer. “What is time?” Aristotle claimed that “time is the measure of change” [Physics. Plato. but not time…” [Physics. H. So. then time. The remainder of this article focuses more on physical time than psychological time. and thus that time is subjective.The controversy in metaphysics between idealism and realism is that.” Einstein’s theory implies that the duration of an event depends on the observer’s frame of reference or coordinate system. Michael Dummett’s constructive model of time implies that time is a composition of intervals rather than of durationless instants. For more on the consciousness of time and related issues. and McTaggart answer the question. Bothered by the contradictions they claimed to find in our concept of time. Gödel argued for the unreality of time because Einstein’s equations allow for events to precede themselves. A more popular answer post-Einstein is that time is not a substance but spacetime is. when confirmed.The problem of change defies solution. Presumably a moment is a durationless instant. Earlier we said time is a sequence of moments in a linear order. or dependent on the mind. would have that subjective feature–physical time as well as psychological time. not a relationship among events. chapter 10]. but a contradictory appearance…. Hegel. but he emphasized “that time is not change [itself]” because a change “may be faster or slower. the early 20th century English philosopher F. “Time” is given an implicit definition this way. chapter 12]. What Is Time? We use our concept of time to place events in sequence one after the other. “Time. and even though psychological time was discovered first as we human beings evolved from our animal ancestors. In a similar vein. but they do not quite tell us what time itself is. has most evidently proved not to be real. and to tell when an event occurs. They just can not agree on what it is. The Variety of Answers If physical time and psychological time are two different kinds of time. These are the three key features of time. Bradley argues. This substantivalist theory is explored in a later section. such as whether one is more fundamental. If this controversy is settled in favor of idealism. However. Zeno. “What is time?” is that time is whatever the time variable t is denoting in the best-confirmed and most fundamental theories of current science. It has been suggested by some philosophers that Einstein’s theory of relativity. An additional answer to our question “What is time?” is that time is a substance. for the idealist. The “observer” need not have a mind.” 3. like space. see Callender (2010).” In the mid-twentieth century. Einstein is not making a point about minddependence. see the article “Phenomenology and TimeConsciousness. “What is time?” by replying that it is nothing because it does not exist. a. but what Einstein means by “observer’s frame of reference” is merely a perspective or coordinate framework from which measurements could be made. In the twenty-first century some physicists such as Julian Barbour who are hoping to reconcile general relativity with quantum mechanics suggest that time does not exist or else that it is not fundamental in nature. most philosophers agree that time does exist. This error is probably caused by Einstein’s use of the term “observer. . Many philosophers of science argue that physical time is more fundamental even though psychological time is discovered first by each of us during our childhood. Nearly all philosophers would agree that we do learn much about physical time by looking at the behavior of the time variable in these theories. Spinoza. nothing exists independently of the mind. Let’s briefly explore other answers that have been given throughout history to our question. then two answers are required to the question “What is time?” and some commentary is required regarding their relationships. but they complain that the full nature of physical time can be revealed only with a philosophical theory of time that addresses the manyphilosophical issues that scientists do not concern themselves with. to compare how long an event lasts. Another answer to our question. too. The model is constructive in the sense that it implies there do not exist any times which are not detectable in principle by a physical process.

chapter 11]. and so forth. The above discussion does not exhaust all the claims about what time is. and an explanation of time. In the 18th century. He insisted that Newton had underemphasized the fact that time necessarily involves an ordering of any pair of non-simultaneous events. b. what Wittgenstein called the “language game” of discourse about time. but time itself can not be faster or slower. of Time. Time is a kind of sustenance or recreation. He spoke of our mind structuring our perceptions so that space always has a Euclidean geometry. Kant’s idea that time is a formof apprehending phenomena is probably best taken as suggesting that we have no direct perception of time but only the ability to experience things and events in time. “there is no time apart from change…. but certainly is not in the matter. Gottfried Leibniz objected. though. and that the container exists with or without the events. This is why time “needs” events. Well. In addition. and that God by his continual action sustains (or re-creates) the body at each successive instant. if we are using the analytic method. Hence it is so with time” [Physics. He argued that time is not an entity existing independently of actual events. Barrow’s student. Some historians distinguish perceptual space from physical space and say that Kant was right about perceptual space. “Time” Whatever time is. René Descartes had a very different answer to “What is time?” He argued that a material body has the property of spatial extension but no inherent capacity for temporal endurance. not dissolved.” One has four letters.” when he said. and time has the structure of the mathematical line. the other does not. Aristotle said time is not discrete or atomistic but “is continuous…. the sense that most interests philosophers and physicists? That is. It is difficult. chapter 11].” Should the proper answer to the question “What is time?” produce a definition of the word as a means of capturing its sense? Definitely not–if the definition must be some analysis that provides a simple paraphrase in all its occurrences. do we learn enough about what time is when we learn about the grammatical intricacies of the word? John Austin made this point in “A Plea for Excuses. a theory of time. in order to sharpen our perception of the phenomena. Leibniz added that this overall order is time. And there is no sharp line separating a definition of time. If physical space and perceptual space are the same thing. but I think you have to talk about grammar at least a little bit in order to solve most of them. the view that truths about space and time are a priori truths began to lose favor. Prior who remarked that. ["Third Meditation" in Meditations on First Philosophy] In the 17th century. Wittgenstein’s expectation is that by drawing attention to ordinary ways of speaking we will be able to dissolve rather than answer our philosophical questions. In respect of sizethere is no minimum. so to speak. Aristotle advocated what is now referred to as the relational theory when he said. for every line is divided ad infinitum.” Most philosophers today would agree with A. but are like substances in not being dependent on anything except God. the method of analysis of language. to get a clear concept of perceptual space. Time vs. as it is in the pressingly practical matter of Excuses. Nevertheless.” [Physics. Immanuel Kant said time and space are forms that the mind projects upon the external things-in-themselves. then Kant is claiming we know a priori that physical space is Euclidean. Newton argued very specifically that time and space are an infinitely large container for all events.” Ordinary-language philosophers have studied time talk. say. although they are happy to have help from the ordinary . In developing his views about time. There are just too many varied occurrences of the word: time out. He accepts a relational theory of time and rejects a substantival theory. it might help us understand time if we improved our understanding of the sense of the word “time. the English physicist Isaac Barrow rejected Aristotle’s linkage between time and change. then “it is plainly preferable to investigate a field where ordinary language is rich and subtle.For example. this project would require some consideration of the grammar of the word “time. Barrow said time is something which exists independently of motion or change and which existed even before God created the matter in the universe. “there are genuine metaphysical problems. and with increased doubt about the reliability of Kant’s method of transcendental proof. a specific change such as the descent of a leaf can be faster or slower. in the nick of time. it is not “time. He added that space and time are not material substances. they want the questions answered. agreed with thissubstantival theory of time. With the discovery of non-Euclidean geometries in the 1820s. But most philosophers of time are unsatisfied with this approach. explore the usage of the word “time” in its principal sense as a means of learning what time is. But how about narrowing the goal to a definition of the word “time” in its main sense. N. behind the times. Isaac Newton.” However.

Event A happens before event B if A could have caused B but B could not have caused A. Linear and Circular Time If you travel to your past and then return to the place and moment of your leaving. a variety of answers were given to the question of whether time is like a line or. the water surface getting wavy. the water surging slightly up the bank at the edge of the pond. the latter as succeeding. Imagine what the initial conditions at the edge and bottom of the pond must be like to produce correlated. can be analyzed in terms of causation. but incoming processes to a common center are uncorrelated. During history (and long before Einstein made a distinction between proper time and coordinate time). Newton advocated linear time when he represented time mathematically by using a continuous straight line. if you die. With circular time. then the question arises as to whether there would be an endless number of reoccurrences of a state of the world. Hans Reichenbach defined time order in terms of possible cause. but what can’t be analyzed in this manner is A’s occurring first. would occur before your birth as well as after it. However. The concept of linear time first appeared in the writings of the Hebrews and the Zoroastrian Iranians. In the Medieval period. Augustine emphasized that human experience is a one-way journey from Genesis to Judgment. Thomas Aquinas agreed. the Pythagoreans and some Stoic philosophers such as Chrysippus did adopt this drastic position. incoming. and sound waves rush out of your ear and converge on the surface where the splash is not occurring. and even of the pond being warmer.” The asymmetry is due to the fact that outgoing processes from a common center tend to be correlated with one another. closed like a circle.” The usefulness of the causal theory depends on a clarification of the notorious notions of causality and possibility without producing a circular explanation that presupposes an understanding of time order. In 1687. The Roman writer Seneca also advocated linear time. there is nothing metaphysically deep about causes preceding their effects. accepting Leibniz’s Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles. event A's causing event B is simply B's always occurring if A does]. and the pond is left cooler. the idea of linear time became dominant in both science and . Put more simply. Even if Reichenbach were correct that temporal priority can be analyzed in terms of causation. For Hume. The usefulness of the causal theory also depends on a refutation of David Hume’s view that causation is simply a matter of constant conjunction [that is. your death. Plato and most other Greeks and Romans believed time to be motion and believed cosmic motion was cyclical. This was the first causal theory of time. [Do you remember ever tossing a rock into a still pond? There’s a correlation among all sorts of later events such as the rock’s disappearing under the water. The idea of eternal recurrence seems to presuppose a linear ordering in time of all the cycles.language philosopher in clearing up misconceptions that may be produced by the way we use the word in our ordinary. event A’s not occurring simultaneously with B can be analyzed in terms of cause and possible cause. “If of two elements which are not simultaneous one comprehends the cause of the other. In 19th century Europe. so there’d need to be some “hypertime” in addition to ordinary time. or whether. instead. If your personal time were circular. but this was not envisioned as requiring any detailed endless repetition such as the multiple rebirths of Socrates. c. Defining Time Order with Causal Order In 1924. although Leibniz had said. concentric water waves so that as they reach the center the rock flies out of the water. d. The concept of linear time was promoted by Barrow. then the former is considered as preceding. Reichenbach’s idea was that causal order can be explained in terms of the “fork asymmetry. proper time) is circular. Locke and Kant. your hearing a splash sound. regardless of any recurring patterns or cycles in nature. If your time is like this. your personal time (that is. but not temporal priority. each supposedly repeating state of the world would occur just once because each state would not be discernible from the repeated state. it is just a matter of convention that we use the terms “cause” and “effect” to distinguish the earlier and later members of a pair of events which are related by constant conjunction. Leibniz. the future is the past and every event occurs before itself. non-technical discourse. The idea was picked up again by Nietzsche in 1882.] Some philosophers argue that temporal asymmetry. the question remains whether time itself can be analyzed in those terms. it was not until 1602 that the concept of linear time was more clearly formulated–by the English philosopher Francis Bacon. Nevertheless. leaving the water surface smooth. with Kant arguing that it is a matter of necessity. Islamic and Christian theologians adopted the ancient idea that time is linear plus the Jewish-Zoroastrian idea that the universe was created at a definite moment in the past. Scholars do not agree on whether Nietzsche meant his idea of circular time to be taken literally or merely for a moral lesson about how you should live your life if you knew that you’d live it over and over.

There could be two disconnected time streams. The cycles of Bang and Crunch continue forever. These differences in age are due to gravitational time dilation. In thinking about possible topologies for time. or does it depend on something even more basic? The question is asking whether there is nature beyond spacetime. As it expanded. There could be branching time. We might rephrase this question by asking whether facts about time supervene on more basic facts. In the most well accepted version of the Big Bang Theory (namely. e. As far as we can tell today. the energy causing the inflation was transformed into a dense gas of expanding hot radiation that has never stopped expanding. Aristotle claimed that time had no beginning because. Actually the age of the universe since the Big Bang depends on where you are in calculating the age. These causal loops or closed curves in spacetime allow you to go forward continuously in time until you arrive back into your past. in the twentieth century. Aquinas objected to the ancient Greek view.7 billion years ago when the universe had infinitesimal size and a nearly infinite gravitational field.) f. In 2004. there was an inflation or accelerating expansion that lasted for 10-30 seconds during which the universe expanded by a factor of 1025. there could be atomistic or discrete time instead of continuous time. the past is finite because time began with God’s creation of Earth a finite time ago. if a cosmological theory implies there is a first event and if that theory has indirect confirmation. the radiation cooled. Once this brief period of inflation ended. turning space into an almost perfect vacuum as the remaining matter-energy becomes more and more diluted. Time began a little more than 13. The Greeks believed time existed before the Unmoved Mover intervened to create order from the previously existing chaos. the age is a few billion years more than 13. For all these topologies. for large scale activity. About 10-35 second after the beginning. Gödel and others discovered solutions to the equations of Einstein’s general theory of relativity that allowed closed loops of proper time (closed time-like curves). p. Instead. If you are out in relatively empty space between the galaxies. Does Time Emerge from Something More Basic? Is time ontologically basic. Newton declared that time is infinite in both the past and future. although there is no agreed-upon theory of what the substrate is. the Friedman model of Einstein’s equations plus early inflation). we have reason to suppose that some prior state of the universe led to the product of [the Big Bang]. in two parallel worlds. 111) that time cannot have had a beginning: “And as we have reasons for supposing that macroscopic events have causal origins.7. Nine billion years after the big bang. our universe does not exemplify any of these solutions to Einstein’s equations. First. facts about changes in the molecules of the air. not a macroscopic event. see Steinhardt 2012. time might be circular or linear. so molecular change is more basic than sound. However. after winning the Nobel Prize in physics. Facts about sound supervene on. and there could be a fusion time in which two different time streams merge into one. for any time. and in the 18th century. and they might or might not have existed forever. Kant argued that this is not an empirical matter but rather a matter of necessity. an ending or no ending. allowing individual material particles to form and eventually to clump into galaxies over billions of years. The implication for both space and time is that.” The usual response here is two-fold. saying past time is finite and that our imagination can’t always be trusted to tell us how things are. In Medieval times. The Extent of Time In ancient Greece.philosophy. David Gross expressed this viewpoint: . they will be potentially infinite in the future. but is spacetime itself basic? Some physicists argue that spacetime is the product of some more basic micro-substrate. in which time is like the letter “Y”. (For the details. The classical Big Bang Theory with inflation is challenged by other theories such as a cyclic theory in which every trillion years the expansion changes to contraction until the universe becomes infinitesimal. So the prospects for ever being warranted in positing a beginning of time are dim. dark energy took over and started to accelerate the expansion again. Each event in the loop lies in its own causal history. Other physicists say space is not basic. then we can say there is an exception to the claim that every event has a prior cause. This expansion of the universe will accelerate forever. In the late 17th century. but time is. Second. Linear time might have a beginning or no beginning. although they both were finite in the past. Time might be two dimensional instead of one dimensional. the past is finite. the Big Bang is a microscopic event. we always imagine an earlier time. Consider this argument from Newton-Smith (1980. Minkowski argued in 1908 that we should believe spacetime is more basic than time. which is considerably faster than today’s speed of light. at which time there is a bounce or new Big Bang. or are a product of.

Standard Model particles obeying the rules of quantum field theory] and the Big Bang theory. It is very hard for me to imagine a formulation of physics without time as a primary concept because physics is typically thought of as predicting the future given the past. How could we have a theory of physics where we start with something in which time is never mentioned? The discussion in this section about whether time is ontologically basic has no implications for whether the word “time” is semantically basic or whether the idea of time is basic to concept formation. instead. The three fundamental theories of physics. the square root of the difference. Ellis and P. He recommended adopting the convention that light travels the same speed in all directions (in a vacuum free of the influence of gravity). see Callender and Hoefer (2002). although all correct . Time is relative in the sense that the duration of an event depends on the reference frame used in measuring the duration. or perhaps the difference of the square roots of the readings for the start and end and called this the “duration”? It is an arbitrary convention that we design clocks to count up to higher numbers rather than down to lower numbers as time goes on. We have an enormous amount of evidence that space is doomed. Time and Conventionality Although some philosophers have claimed that time is not objective but is merely the product of our choice of a convenient concept. Einstein said that to define simultaneity in a single reference frame you must adopt a convention about how fast light travels going one way as opposed to coming back (or going any other direction). And when we decide to compute the duration of an event by subtracting the difference between the times of the start and end of the event. Unlike in Newton’s physics and the physics of special relativity. time is not atomistic or discrete. For some pairs of events. where space is an emergent concept…. What Does Science Require of Time? Science currently requires almost all the basic laws of science to be time symmetric. “How do we imagine a dynamical theory of physics in which time is emergent?” …All the examples we have do not have an emergent time. But we don’t know what it’s replaced by. That means the laws can not change from one day to another. For an introduction to this dispute. even the order in which they occur is relative. For more discussion. We even have examples. more philosophical controversy has involved whether the metric of time is conventional rather than whether time itself is conventional. and that the origin of our coordinate system for time is associated with the birth of Jesus on some calendars but the entry of Mohammed into Mecca on other calendars. Each object has its own proper time.Everyone in string theory is convinced…that spacetime is doomed. So. Malament in 1977 give different reasons why Einstein is mistaken. He claimed there is no way to measure whether the speed is really the same in opposite directions because any measurement of the two speeds between two locations requires first having synchronized clocks at those two locations. mathematically well-defined examples. so the correct time shown by a clock depends on its history. see the Frequently Asked Questions. Relativity’s spacetime is more fundamental than either space or time alone. Gravity is a manifestation of the warping of spacetime. Another profound idea from relativity theory is that accurate clocks do not tick the same for everyone everywhere. that a second lasts as long as it does. yet the synchronization process will presuppose whether the speed is the same in both directions. They have emergent space but not time. But in my opinion the tough problem that has not yet been faced up to at all is. A related controversy about the metric of time concerns whether our choosing an atomic clock rather than the Earth’s rotation as our standard clock indicates we’ve chosen a more correct metric or instead merely a more convenient metric. In addition. g. all imply that any duration is a continuum very much like a segment of the real number line. The philosophers B. We have unitary time evolution. Bowman in 1967 and D. or could we have chosen to compute. 4. quantum mechanics [that is. Relativity has had the biggest impact on our understanding of time. spacetime is not a passive container for events. It is an arbitrary convention that there are twenty-four hours in a day instead of ten. and more controversially. that there are sixty seconds in a minute rather than twelve. namely relativity. it is dynamic in the sense that changes in the amount and distribution of matter-energy can change the curvature of spacetime itself. is this choice of computational method merely arbitrary. Einstein said that two events can be simultaneous in one reference frame but not simultaneous in another reference frame moving relative to the first. and that we re-set our clock by one hour as we cross a time-zone. although time is not space because time is a distinguished. Philosophers have disagreed about the extent to which there is an element of conventionality in Einstein’s notion of two separated events happening at the same time. linear subspace of four-dimensional spacetime.

But you do have a much longer lifetime than your biological twin whom you left back on Earth long ago. there are two ways to travel into the future using time dilation—either by moving at high speed or by taking advantage of the presence of an intense gravitational field. and time travel that changes the past is generally considered to be impossible. you have been in existence for all that time and can be continuously observed from Earth. In this unusual non-Minkowski spacetime. two synchronized clocks do not stay synchronized if they move relative to each other or undergo different gravitational forces. This kind of time travel is more noticeable if the younger twin lives near a black hole where the gravitational potential energy is much stronger than on Earth. the traveler’s journey as judged by the traveler’s clock takes a different amount of time than the journey does as judged by the clocks of those who do not take the journey. But you can not get back to the twenty-first century on Earth by reversing your velocity.7 to 13. not as judged by your clock. the more interesting kind of time travel. (See the discussion of the twin paradox for the solution to the famous paradox involving time dilation. no one needs to build a device in order to travel this way.8 billion years ago as spacetime started to expand from an infinitesimal volume. as do clocks in higher gravitational fields.observers must agree on the order if the two events could be causally related. You can participate in that future. even if you were to travel at just under the speed of light. your own past. According to relativity theory. If you move at extremely high speed. The physical possibility of travel to the future is well accepted. If you were in the spaceship that accelerated quickly to just under the speed of light. People who live in the ground floor apartment age slower than their twin who lives in the top floor apartment of the same building. this is called gravitational time dilation. then you and your clock might age hardly at all as you traveled across the galaxy. closed future-directed timelike curves. Specifying that an event lasted three minutes without giving even an implicit indication of the reference frame is like asking someone to stand over there and not giving any indication of where “there” is. You may have heard the remark that you have no time to take a spaceship ride across the galaxy since it is 100. But. Gödel discovered that in some possible worlds that obey the theory of general relativity. Now.000 years as judged by clocks that are stationary relative to Earth. . it would take you over 100. You cannot kill your childhood self no matter how hard you try. That is. You can’t go back and prevent Adolf Hitler from gaining political power in Germany in the 1930s. about travel to the past. you are always in your own present during the time-traveling as judged by your personal time or proper time. with a very fast spaceship. In any kind of time travel. This is 100. Even more startling is that you may be able to travel into your own past and perhaps meet yourself as a child or perhaps even become your earlier self. the traveler’s personal future (as judged by their proper time) becomes part of the universe’s past (as judged by cosmological time or coordinate time). not just view it. you can travel into the future to the year 2. you can eventually arrive into the past. having begun 13. Kurt Gödel discovered a solution to Einstein’s field equations that allows continuous.000 light years across. see What Science Requires of Time. the universe as a whole is the time machine. clocks in motion run slower. Relative to clocks that are stationary in the reference frame. 5. we can say that in time travel. Clocks in cars driving by your apartment building run slower than your apartment’s clock. Who has that kind of time? This remark contains a misunderstanding about time dilation. To define the term. For more discussion of all these compressed remarks.300. According to the classical Big Bang theory of cosmology. In fact.) In addition to time dilation due to high speed there is time dilation due to being in the presence of a gravitation field.000 years. the universe has a finite past. you have plenty of time to go anywhere in the universe you wish to go. In general. It’s not that you suddenly jump into the Earth’s future of the year 2. there is a difference between the traveler’s personal or proper time and the external or coordinate time of those who do not take the journey. you can not change what has happened in the past. So.300 on Earth (as measured by Earth-based clocks or by clocks elsewhere that are not moving relative to Earth) while your personal clock measures that only ten years have elapsed. Backward time travel implies backwards causation. In travel to the past. In 1949. To say this more simply. What Kinds of Time Travel Are Possible? Most philosophers and scientists believe time travel is physically possible. Many proposed theories of quantum gravity imply that past time travel occurs very frequently in regions of about one Planck length across (10-35 meters) for about one Planck time (10-43 seconds). and people on the third floor of your building age more rapidly than those living on the first floor. but travel to the past is more problematical.

These complaints are a mixture of arguments that past-directed time travel is not logically possible. 4. and then a light signal of the impact on the target is sent to viewers. None are generally considered to be decisive. chapter 14) provides a clear thought experiment in which a wormhole is manipulated to be a time machine that allows someone to travel into their own past. pastdirected time travel isn’t really possible. Does the probe get launched? It seems to be launched if and only if it is not launched. Consider a gun that fires tachyon bullets several times faster than normal light speed. but this violates our definition of the word “before. In short. Here are the arguments: 1. In this viewer’s frame. The squirrels begin breeding.” 3. 6. Particles that go faster than light in a vacuum are called “tachyons. You take these back to the time of the dinosaurs. Suppose you enter a time machine and bring along several male and female squirrels of one species. However. no change implies no time. The container exists with or without events in it.” Travel to the past is impossible because it allows the gaining of information for free. Time travel is impossible because if it were possible we should have seen many time travelers by now. they cannot go any slower than that.Kip Thorne (1994. If so. A rocket ship carries a special time machine capable of firing a probe into its own past. given today’s empirical evidence. relational theories imply time’s existence requires there to be some physical process in the universe–such as movement or a change in a field. that was published in 1859. and it will appear to anyone watching them at the time as if nature is conspiring against them. Suppose a viewer near the target is traveling just under the speed of light in the direction of the hyper-speed bullet. Suppose the ship is programmed to fire the probe on a certain date unless a safety switch is on. Does Time Require Change? (Relational vs. here is how to use a tachyon to allow a bullet to go back in time. Suppose the safety switch is programmed to be turned on if and only if the “return” or “impending arrival” of the probe is (or has been) detected by a sensing device on the ship. time travel is impossible. 6. Relational theories imply there is no . and that it is unlikely. the dinosaurs die out. see the encyclopedia article “Time Travel. In that case. For more discussion of time travel. the bullet collides with the target and then later the gun fires. In the 21st century. There are several well known philosophical arguments against past-directed time travel. The way out of paradox may require us to accept that (a) somehow people will be unable to build the probe or the safety switch or an effective sensing device. and the species of squirrel survives into modern times. in the viewer’s frame of reference. Substantival Theories) Substantival theories are theories that imply time is substance-like in that it exists independently of the spacetime relations exhibited by physical processes. but nobody has encountered any time travelers. the bullet would first strike the target and then fly backwards into the barrel of the gun. go back to 1855 and give the book to Darwin himself. there is no time travel.” Although there is as yet no solid evidence that tachyons exist. Since this scenario allows a species to come into existence without its going through the process of Darwinian evolution. Einstein’s theory of relativity implies that nothing starting out slower than the speed of light can go faster than the speed of light. or (c) time travel into the past is impossible. Since observers have never witnessed this apparent conspiracy of nature. it seems to permit particles that come into existence going faster than the speed of light to continue going faster than the speed of light. The bullets hit the target. then these events would occur before themselves and after themselves. For example. If there were travel to the past along a closed timelike curve. that it is not technologically possible with current technology. That is backward time travel and backward causation. enter a time machine with it. that it is not physically possible. who first came up with the knowledge about evolution? Because this scenario contradicts what we know about where knowledge comes from. or (b) time travel probes must go so far back in time that they never survive and make it back to the time when they were launched. Is this like saying. If there were time travel. He could use your copy in order to write his manuscript which he sends off to the publisher. Some substantival theories describe spacetime as being like a container for events. 2. “I’ll design a gun that shoots if and only if it doesn’t shoot”? Not quite. then when time travelers go back and attempt to change history they must always botch their attempts to change anything. buy a copy of Darwin’s book The Origin of Species. On the other hand. 5.

Relational theories are also called “relationalist” theories. but there do not have to be knowable reasons for humans. there would be no reason why this shifted universe does not exist and ours does. Our universe is like a painting. In a space containing only a single glove. So spinning makes a difference. Newton’s substantival space and time do not exist. (2) The bucket thought-experiment shows that acceleration relative to absolute space is detectable. Suppose we tie a bucket’s handle to a rope hanging down from a tree branch. God might have had His own sufficient reason for creating the universe at a given place and time even though mere mortals cannot comprehend His reasons. and let it come to equilibrium. and keep doing this until the angular velocity of the water and the bucket are the same. Although Einstein’s theory implies there is no absolute time in these last two ways (immutable and independent of reference frame). if there is no reason for there to be our universe rather than the shifted universe.” [Physics. Leibniz could not account for its being a right-handed glove versus a left-handed glove because all the internal relationships would be the same in either case. not second-order change. Partially fill the bucket with water. Here’s how to detect absolute space. Take away the citizens (the spacetime events). If you take away the paint (the spacetime events) from the painting. but the present issue is whether itexists without changes. Relational spacetime is like citizenship. and space itself is acting upon the water surface to make it concave. Leibniz had no rebuttal. and Mach had entered the arena on the side of Leibniz. Newton offered this two-part response: (1) Leibniz is correct to accept the Principle of Sufficient Reason regarding the rational intelligibility of the universe. and in this case the water surface is flat. John Norton’s metaphors might help. then we have violated Leibniz’sPrinciple of Sufficient Reason: that there is an understandable reason for everything being the way it is. However. But if there is a “space itself. Newton’s absolute theory of space and time was generally accepted by European scientists and philosophers. and it is also used to suggest that time is independent of observer or reference frame. the battle lines were most clearly drawn in the early 18th century when Leibniz argued for the relational position against Newton. Relational theories. but when it is spinning there is motion relative to a third thing. So. says Newton. for over two centuries after this argument was created. Everyone agrees time cannot be measured without there being changes. He said. Kant entered the arena on the side of Newton. the trouble with Newton’s theory is that it leads to too many unnecessary possibilities. so this difference can only be due to the glove’s relationship to space itself. thus absolute space is real. even though during those centuries Huygens. One hundred years later. The substantival theories are theories that spacetime could exist even if there were no physical objects and events in the universe. what are they spinning relative to? Because we can disregard the rest of the environment including the tree and rope. Newton’s theory of time was dominant in the 18th and 19th centuries. Substantival theories are sometimes called “absolute theories.” then the absolute or substantival theory is better than the relational theory. says Newton. by reductio ad absurdum. but now the water surface is concave. Its snowing on her grave does count. imply that spacetime is nothing but the spatiotemporal relationships among possible objects and their possible events. Berkeley. But one could then imagine a universe just like ours except with everything shifted five kilometers east and five minutes earlier.” Unfortunately the term “absolute theory” is used in two other ways. and you have no citizenship left. Suppose Newton’s space and time were to exist. Now we have arrived at a contradiction because. Now spin the bucket. However. So. “neither does time exist without change. the second-order change that occurs when Queen Anne’s death recedes ever farther into the past does not count as the kind of change emphasized by the relational theory. the only explanation of the difference in surface shape between the non-spinning case and the spinning case is that when it is not spinning there is no motion relative to space. so is absolute time. we all know that there is a real difference between a right and a left glove. and substantival spacetime is like the painter’s canvas. The first advocate of a relational theory of time was Aristotle. on the other hand. When the relational theory says change is necessary for time to exist. When the bucket and water are spinning. who had adopted a substantival theory of time. and if absolute space is real. Leibniz’s principal argument against Newton is a reductio ad absurdum. The term is used to emphasize that spacetime is immutable in the sense of not changing its properties. But the substance that substantivalists have in mind is more like a medium pervading all of spacetime and less like an external container. said Kant. In this second case there is again no relative motion between the bucket and the water. 218b] However. you still have the canvas. In short. the key idea is that the presence of centrifugal force is a sign of rotation relative to absolute space.container without contents. space itself. That is. but how can a relational theory explain the difference in the shape of the surface? It can not. it is an open question whether relativity theory supports the relational theory in the primary sense of that term. Mach argued that it must be the . what is meant by “change” is first-order change. Notice that there is no relative motion between the bucket and the water. Alternatively expressed.

but not exactly at 11:01 AM. then the water will creep up the side of the bucket and form a concave surface—so the bucket thought experiment does not require absolute space. is considered to be a ripple in the field. if you hold the bucket still but spin the background stars in the environment. By the end of the 20th century. Which sense is ruled out when we reject a space-filling ether? The critics admit that general relativity does show that the curvature of spacetime is affected by the distribution of matter. The centrifugal force that affects the shape of the water surface in the spinning bucket may be due not to its spinning relative to the background stars but rather to its spinning with respect to the geodesic of spacetime. And the response to Newton’s bucket argument is to note Newton’s error in not considering the environment. everyone comes back to life. Although it was initially thought by Einstein and Reichenbach that relativity theory supported Mach regarding the bucket experiment and the absence of absolute space. the deeper question is whether time does exist without change. says the absolutist. the leading candidate for substantival space. in large part because a Newtonian absolute space would be undetectable. and that without these stars or other matter. every 3 x 4 x 5 years. must the relationalist say there never was a time of 11:01 AM in the room? To avoid saying “yes. The absolutist then asks us to consider the possibility that the room is the whole universe. In 1969.” The philosopher’s . general relativity does not rule out a more sophisticated substantival theory–to be discussed below. These fields cannot be states of some Newtonian ether. Must the relationist say there can be no “empty” time? If events occur in a room before and after 11:01 AM. Remember the ambiguity in “substantival” mentioned above? There is substantival in the sense of independent of reference frame and substantival in the sense of independent of events. so the substantival theory was incorrect. Santayana offered another: “The essence of nowness runs like fire along the fuse of time. such as the stars. the relationalist response to losing 11:01 AM would probably be to say possible events occur then in the room even if actual events do not. so they argue. In the 20th century. region 4. Einstein agreed with Mach that. and change ceases in region 5 every fifth year. carried by the current past the manifold of events which is spread out timelessly on the bank. But now look where we are. called region 3. a spacetime point is also just a place where something could happen. a relationalist might say 11:01 exists in the room and everywhere else because somewhere outside the room something is happening then. What else except substantive spacetime points? Another criticism goes like this. People in regions 4 and 5 can verify this and convince the people in region 3 after they come back to life at the end of their frozen year. Similarly. as Newton’s absolutism requires. Hartry Field offers another argument for the substantival theory by pointing out that modern physics requires gravitational and electromagnetic fields that cover spacetime–a light wave. In year sixty-one. Here is one argument that it does. Every sixty years. Reichenbach and the early Einstein declared the special theory of relativity to be a victory for the relational theory. that is. If the relational theory is going to consider spacetime points to be permanent possibilities of the location of events. and somehow or other sense can be made of time in the room in terms of these external events. Special relativity. Does Time Flow? “It is as if we were floating on a river. say. For the relational theory. Sydney Shoemaker presented an argument to convince us of the understandability of time existing without change. and region 5. they also said. Divide space into three disjoint regions. 7. The fields are states of spacetime. this may not be correct. Since this continuum is not just a fiction.” which would be absurd. substantival theories had gained some ground. This is because. then the relational theory collapses into substantivalism. In region 3. but there must be something to have the field properties. a spinning bucket would have a flat surface. even if Shoemaker’s scenario shows time’s existing without change is understandable. so today it is no longer plausible for an absolutist to assert that the “container” is independent of the matter it contains. Many philosophers argue that Reichenbach and the early Einstein have been overstating the amount of metaphysics that can be extracted from the physics. ruled out a space-filling ether. In that case.” said one philosopher trying to capture time’s flow with a helpful metaphor.remaining matter in the universe. so its temporal continuum is just a useful fiction created by mathematical abstraction from what really exists. But. with the field having a value (a number or vector) at points throughout the field. all that exists are physical objects and their relationships. change ceases every third year for one year. change ceases in region 4 every fourth year for a year. time having marched on for a year with no change. to a substantivalist. we should reject the relational theory. which causes the water surface in the bucket to be concave. But philosophers of time point out that. all three regions freeze simultaneously for a year.

California. fully-described events do not change their properties because complete or “eternal” sentences do not change their truth values. The arrow can be seen in the process of making an omelet. p. Time exists.” A second dynamic theory implies that the flow is a matter of events changing from being future. the passage of time. but only in the event’s relationship to the observer. If it can not have a truth value. For example. but unlike the first dynamic theory there is no commitment to events changing.” Only these non-indexical. and that way is the direction of disarray. For example. Tim Maudlin argues that the objective flow of time is fundamental and unanalyzable. but not everyone agrees that it actually does. This is the kind of flow associated with McTaggart’s A-series of events.” (Maudlin. things change. A fourth dynamic theory suggests the flow is (reflected in) the change over time of truth values of declarative sentences orpropositions. So. Opponents of these two dynamic theories complain that when events change in these senses. the sentence “It is now raining” was true during the rain yesterday but has changed to false on today’s sunny day. intrinsic properties. a feature of our mind-independent reality that is to be found in. 2007. Or consider mixing cool cream into hot. complete sentences have truth values. the actualization of new states of affairs. to being present. The first. He is happy to say “time does indeed pass at the rate of one hour per hour. then in future scientific laws. the product of a faulty metaphor. and the speaker is in Sacramento. saying the death of Queen Anne is an event that changes from present to past is no more of a real change in the event than saying her death changed from being approved of to being disapproved of. Time’s flow is really events becoming determinate. say. which imply that the flow is objective. the direction toward equilibrium. today’s scientific laws. The second category of theories of time’s flow are the dynamic theories of time. Attacking the notion of time’s flow in this manner. One dynamic theory implies that the flow is a matter of events changing from being indeterminate in the future to being determinate in the present and past. non-context-dependent. 8. it can not change its truth value. Grünbaum said: “Events simply are or occur…but they do not ‘advance’ into a pre-existing frame called ‘time. 2010) argues that time’s flow is objective but so far is beyond the reach of our understanding. critics suggest that the indexical (or token reflexive) sentence “It is now raining” has no truth value because the reference of “now” is unspecified. This is the theory of flow that is usually accepted by advocates of presentism. black coffee. the change is not a real change in the event’s essential. 2007. There are two opposing categories of theories of time’s flow.” A third dynamic theory says time’s flow is the coming into existence of facts. California. We get omelets from eggs. and neither does the so-called second-order change from present to past or from indeterminate to determinate. but whether it is here is about you and isn’t objective. then the indexical sentence “It is now raining” is related to the more complete or context-explicit sentence “It is raining at midnight on April 1. It is more likely to be adopted by those who believe McTaggart’s B-series is more fundamental than his A-series. 112) Regardless of how we analyze the metaphor of time’s flow we also need to analyze the metaphor of time’s having a direction—the arrow of time. is that the flow is an illusion. Everyone agrees that timeappears to flow. In response.goal is to clarify the idea of time’s flow. the sentence is related to a sentence that does have a truth value. or. Supposing it is now midnight here on April 1. 2007 in Sacramento. the something is not nothing. We soon get lukewarm. we never get eggs from omelets. but time does not flow objectively.’ … An event does not move and neither do any of its relations. if it has been missed there. and has historically been the more popular theory among philosophers. It is as subjective as the feeling that something is here. What Gives Time Its Direction or Arrow? Time’s arrow is the way processes go over time. but we never notice the reverse process of lukewarm. but the flow itself is not objective. It is these sorts of truth value changes that are at the root of time’s flow. This kind of theory is often characterized as a “myth-of-passage” theory. There may well be some objective feature of our brains that causes us tobelieve we are experiencing a flow of time. to being past. brown coffee. However. This extrinsic change in approval does not count as a real change in her death. brown coffee separating into . and these truth values do not change with time. A dynamic theory is closer to common sense. so dynamic theorists speak of time’s flow as “temporal becoming. and most popular among physicists. John Norton (Norton. There are other dynamic theories of time.

for example. There are many useful definitions of entropy. the amalgamation of the universe’s irreversible processes produces the cosmic arrow of time. According to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. (3) why the arrow is apparent in macro processes but not micro processes. the way it normally unfolds through time. What Needs to be Explained There are many goals for a fully developed theory of time’s arrow. the state of the universe at the time of the Big Bang. (2) why the basic laws of science do not reveal the arrow. and why glass windows break but never unbreak. you might think that an inspection of the basic physical laws would readily reveal time’s arrow. then that process reversed in time is also allowed. Something else must tell us how television signals work. According to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. and it has been running down and getting more disorganized ever since. More entropy implies more disorganization. Less cream and hot. the entropy of a physical system isolated from external influences is a measure [specifically. (6) what are the characteristics of a physical theory that would pick out a preferred direction in time. conscious life eventually ends in the universe. causes preceding their effects [the causal arrow]. It will not. Such is the way these two irreversible thermodynamic processes go. time’s arrow indicates directed processes in time. This means that if a certain process is allowed by the laws. Entropy in a system such as an expanding gas in a cubic box increases for a few minutes then stops changing because the system reaches the equilibrium of uniform density. these basic laws of science do not by themselves imply an arrow of time. (4) why entropy increases in the future rather than decreases even though the decrease is physically possible given current basic laws. a reversible process is one that is reversed by an infinitesimal change of its surrounding conditions. so the change in entropy is a one-way street toward greater disorganization and less useful forms of energy. Physicists generally favor (i). that it goes from low to high. According to another definition. the master arrow. Strictly speaking. the entropy increase is evident in the fact that the new heat energy distributed throughout the byproducts of the gasoline combustion is much less useful than was the potential chemical energy in the pre-combustion gasoline. entropy can be defined as being a measure of the disorganization of the system. a. being irreversible means we cannot reconstruct the past from knowledge of the current state. if an isolated system with a great many particles is not in . (ii) it’s a product of some as yet unknown asymmetrical laws of nature. It is a measure inversely related to the energy available for work in a physical system. Also. all the basic laws of fundamental processes are time symmetric. otherwise it is reversible. It should tell us (1) why time has an arrow. but the entropy of our universe has been increasing for the last 13.8 billion years and will continue to do so for a very long time. the universe was in a highly organized. With some exceptions. and they can be used to predict that television signals can exist. but the equations do not tell us whether those signals arrive before or arrive after they are transmitted. Because so many of the physical processes we commonly observe do have an arrow. How to explain the arrow is still an open question in science and philosophy. low-entropy state. (7) what the relationships are among the various more specific arrows of time–the various kinds of temporally asymmetric processes such as entropy increases [the thermodynamic arrow]. we call it an irreversible process. among other things. Maxwell’s equations of electromagnetism. At any rate. and so forth. are basic laws. but we can overlook this fine point because of the general level of the present discussion. the logarithm] of how many microstates are macroscopically indistinguishable. If a process goes only one-way. At the time of the Big Bang event. When a car burns gasoline. They say the most likely explanation of the emergence of an arrow of time in a world with time-blind basic laws is that the arrow is a product of the direction of entropy change. and our knowing the past more easily than the future [the knowledge arrow]. light radiating away from hot objects rather than converging into them [the electromagnetic arrow]. b. such as the collapse of the quantum mechanical wave function. The arrow of a physical process is the way it normally goes. and the stars all burn out. entropy change in the future is almost always entropy increase. strictly speaking. This running down is the cosmic arrow of time. and this directedness of entropy change is due to. and the arrow may or may not have anything to do with the flow of time. black coffee. which is not a basic law of physics and which cannot be derived from just the classical laws of motion. Usually this arrow is what is meant when one speaks time’s arrow. So. (iii) it’s a product of causation which itself is asymmetrical. Explanations or Theories of the Arrow There are three principal explanations of the arrow: (i) it’s a product of entropy flow and the initial conditions of the universe. but it is agreed that the existence of the arrow implies that everyone dies. (5) what it would be like for the arrow to reverse direction. In other words.

But similarly you also would infer that your glass evolved from a state of liquid water (red line). then it is overwhelmingly likely that the system’s entropy will increase in the future. then most all the matter would have long ago congealed into large black holes. You would not infer that the present halfmelted state evolved from a state where the glass has a solid cube in it (dashed green line). and all you otherwise knew about the universe is that it obeys our current. In order to predict the dashed green line rather than the dashed red line.8 billion years is one in which entropy rises because it started off so low. Craig Callender) say it may simply be a brute fact—that is. if the Past Hypothesis is true. surprisingly it is just as likely that the system also had higher entropy in the past—as described by the red line in the diagram below. if it were initially less smooth. Yet we know our universe is an isolated system. If it were initially smoother. basic laws. then there would be no congealing of matter into galaxies. the physicists Walther Ritz and Roger Penrose say we must not yet have found the true laws (or invented the best laws) underlying nature’s behavior. So. Objecting to inexplicable initial facts as being unacceptably ad hoc. then the most probable history of the universe over the last 13. If you found a half-melted ice cube in an isolated glass of water (the black dot in the diagram). and it surely did not have high entropy in the past—at least not in the past that is between now and the Big Bang event—so the low value of entropy in the past is puzzling.equilibrium. c. We need to keep looking for basic. then you’d predict that the ice cube would melt into a liquid in the future (solid green line). Multiple Arrows . But. But did spatial expansion or something else cause this low entropy? Some physicists (for example. Why was entropy so low at the time of the Big Bang? No explanation has yet satisfied the majority of experts. physicists have found it necessary to adopt the Past Hypothesis—that the universe began in a state of very low entropy. Sean Carroll (2010) offers a simple illustration of the red line problem. and here is the main difficulty. although they agree that the relative smoothness in temperature differences in the early universe is evidence of the very low entropy of the early universe. time asymmetrical laws in order to account for the initial low entropy and thus for time’s arrow. Richard Feynman) and philosophers (for example. the issue of how to explain the arrow is deeply connected to the issue of why the early universe had just the right smoothness. The low entropy appears to be due to the early universe’s having just the right amount of homogeneity or smoothness of temperature differences so that galaxies would eventually form. there is no causal explanation for the low entropy beginning. That is.

This new era would be an era of reversed time. If we sent a signal to the time-reversed region. Quantum mechanical measurement collapses the wave function.] If Aristotle were correct that the future. We see black holes but never white holes. the origin of the initial low entropy is still a mystery. Philosophers have asked interesting questions about the reversal of time’s arrow. if all the particles’ trajectories and charges are reversed. 5. That is just as it is for us who do not experience time-reversal. Crudely put. then wouldn’t the future of people in the time-reversed region be open. not in reverse order. but for some reason reached a low point at the time of our big bang [see Carroll. The direction of entropy change is the thermodynamic arrow. is undetermined or open. 6. should we play it in the ordinary . It is easier to know the past than to know the future. 9. 3. very distant past is one where space is not inhomogeneous but is essentially empty of everything except vacuum energy. would dead people there become undead. If the cosmic arrow of time were to reverse this way. or would this reversal destroy consciousness? Supposing the answer is that they would be conscious. A few physicists and philosophers have speculated that the arrow might reverse in our future. Our present actions affect the future and not the past. but never converge into it. 7. the linkage of all the arrows may require as yet undiscovered laws. This re-occurrence of the past is different than the re-living of past events via time travel. The universe expands in volume rather than shrinks. There is evidence of the past but not of the future. could our message cross the border. or would it bounce back? If residents of the timereversed region successfully sent a recorded film across the border to us. It is also well accepted that entropy increase can account for the fact that we remember the past but not the future. would people in that far off corner appear to us to be pre-cognitive if we could communicate with them? Would the feeling of being conscious be different for time-reversed people? [Here is one suggestion. B meson decay. With time travel the past is re-visited in the original order. 4. Consider the difference between time’s arrow and time’s arrows. would it even be possible for them to be conscious? Assuming consciousness is caused by brain processes. 10. and there would be a period of non-directional time separating the two eras. or would it dissolve there. Reversing the Arrow Could the cosmic arrow of time have gone the other way? Most physicists suspect that the answer is yes. perhaps our past would be re-created and lived in reverse order. And even if all arrows are produced by entropy flow. What does it really mean to say time reverses? Would entropy flow change from increasing to decreasing [since if entropy continually increased as time reversed then a big crunch could not be the big bang in reverse]? If time were to be going in reverse only in some far off corner of the universe. that effects follow causes rather than precede them. 2. Causes precede their effects. and Higgs boson decay are each different in a time reversed d. we will find that entropy then was high also. Carroll speculates that the truly highest-entropy configuration in the very. Here are some suggestions for additional arrows: 1. 8. so what should we conclude from this? Should we conclude that our own past might really be undetermined and open. too. In this scenario. For example. unlike the past. 2010].” and it would be when the entropy is lower. Consider communication between us and the inhabitants of that far off time-reversed region of the universe. the collapse of the wave function is generally considered to be due to an increase in the entropy of the universe. There is one direction of time they would remember and call “the past. too? But it is like our past. neutral kaon decay. Possibilities decrease as time goes on. then the arrow of time must reverse. and they say it could have gone the other way if the initial conditions of the universe at the Big Bang event had been different. Most physicists suspect all these arrows are linked so that we can not have some arrows reversing while others do not.The past and future are different in many ways that reflect the arrow of time. that our past could change? And there are other questions. and would the people there walk backwards up steps while remembering the future? First off. but eventually the universe would evolve away from equilibrium in which the directional processes now go in the reverse order to the way they went before the reversal. and that animals grow old and never young. Perhaps if we explore the past farther back beyond the big bang event. could there be consciousness if their nerve pulses reversed. not next week. time would lose its unidirectionality as the universe approaches a state of equilibrium. 11. that is. However. world. We remember last week. Radio waves spread out from the antenna.

then if one of the events is real. The future. J. then the block is infinitely large. such as dinosaurs. Broad advocated a growing-past theory. see Markosian. Presentism and the growing-past theories must suppose that this event is both real and unreal because it is real for A but not real for B. which is absurd. being dependent on our point of view. by the way. Aristotle (in De Interpretatione.J.way or in reverse? Would any interaction between their region and ours upset their delicately constructed world and cause their entropy to increase? 9. if people are in certain relative motions. the Growing Past. or if space an infinite extent. The presentist also is challenged to explain the notion of an object’s having a speed. D. we thank goodness that the pain is there rather than here. So that means that past wars are still being fought. chapter 9) and C. the presentist uses it in a tensed sense. Opposing both presentism and the growing past theory.V.” so the critic is equivocating on the word “are. so is the other. there. which is normally explained by saying the object has a different location than it just had in the very recent past. The counter from the defenders of the block universe is that even though there will be only one future there might be many different futures for all we know. Advocates of a growing past argue that. not all possible futures.” If time has an infinite future or past. they claim. and we know fatalism is incorrect. How about the future? Philosophers are divided into three camps on the question of the reality of the past. In the block universe there can be only one future. Adolf Grünbaum.” but the theory is also called “eternalism” and the “static theory of time. Their two key assumptions here are that relativity does provide an accurate account of the spatiotemporal relations among events. and that only the present is real. Duns Scotus and A. static sense. Reality “grows” with the coming into being of determinate reality from an indeterminate or potential reality. Although presentists say dinosaurs are not real. Yes. a present part. the present. And the presentist must account for our disliking Adolf Hitler. slipped out of existence? More generally. and future. and Paul Horwich object to assigning special ontological status to the present. we are asking whether the past is real. The counter from the defenders of the block universe is that their view implies past wars are still being fought only in the tenseless sense of “are. another camp of philosophers argue that the presentist-eternalist debate is merely verbal because each side is using the word “real” in a different sense. whereas eternalists say that dinosaurs are as real as anything in the present. Is Only the Present Real? a. It is mental perspectives only that divide the block into a past part. Parmenides. W. and far. an event in person A’s present can be in person B’s future. This ontology of time is called the block universe theory because it regards reality as a single block of spacetime with its time slices ordered by the temporally-before relation. For a survey of defenses of presentism. . even though there is no present Adolf Hitler. the past is also real.C. and the future just as there is no objective ontological difference among here. and a future part. The presentist and the advocate of the growing past will usually unite in opposition to the block universe (eternalism) on two grounds: (i) the present is so much more vivid to a conscious being than is any other time-slice of spacetime. Quine. Another less common argument against the block universe is that it implies the past is real in a changeless. The presentist somehow must distinguish between last week and three weeks ago. so if a statement about the past is true. is the actual future. William James coined the term “block universe. so this is fatalism. present. whereas the eternalist uses it in an untensed sense. and that if there is some frame of reference in which two events are simultaneous.O.” says Richard Jeffrey. and (ii) the block theory misses the special “open” character of the future. but these differences are subjective. N. 2003. Presentism. Prior are presentists. “The world grows by accretion of facts. and the Block Universe Have past objects. They say there is no objective ontological difference among the past. A major challenge for presentists is to account for change.” The advocates of the block universe counter that only the block universe can make sense of relativity’s implication that. this is because some present facts make it true. The presentist viewpoint maintains that the past and the future are not real. in addition to the present. Smart. and past rather than present. Surely that conclusion is unacceptable. Bertrand Russell.

” Many others. Objects considered fourdimensionally are said to be “perduring objects” as opposed to the three-dimensional “enduring objects” of common sense. or if free will is compatible with determinism. “Tomorrow the admiral will start a sea battle. For more on this point about modal logic. . Many philosophers.” These philosophers point favorably to the ancient Greek philosopher Chrysippus who was convinced that a contingent sentence about the future is true or false. but for the four-dimensionalist.” This position that contingent sentences have no classical truth values is called the Aristotelian position because many researchers throughout history have taken Aristotle to be holding the position in chapter 9 of On Interpretation–although today it is not so clear that Aristotle himself held it. In other words. and if it is true that you will perform an action in the future. as hitherto. The Aristotelian argument against predictions being true or false has been discussed as much as any in the history of philosophy [See "Logical Determinism" in the Free Will article]. your choices affect the world. if there really is no free will. we must deny truth values to predictions. according to the compatibilist. do not agree with Einstein. Traditionally an adult human being is a three-dimensional object existing wholly at an instant. c. and it faces a series of challenges. Second. see Foreknowledge and Free Will. and it can not be any value in between such as “indeterminate. then the motivation to deny truth values to predictions is undermined. it does not follow that now you will not perform it freely. the human being consists of its childhood and its middle age and thus exists over a time period rather than only at a time. if so.Opponents of the block universe charge that it does not provide an accurate account of the way things are because it leaves out “the now” or “the present. Just as all of spacetime is a four-dimensional block. The principal motive for adopting the Aristotelian position arises from the belief that if sentences about future human actions are now true. And suppose that this action starts a sea battle. nor that you are not free to do otherwise if your intentions are different. These are not three-dimensional but rather four-dimensional. First. the evolution of a three dimensional existence. Truth Values and Free Will This philosophical dispute has taken a linguistic turn by focusing upon a question about language: “Are predictions true or false at the time they are uttered?” Those who believe in the block universe (and thus in the determinate reality of the future) will answer “Yes” while a “No” will be given by presentists and advocates of the growing past. namely at the time at which the sea battle occurs.” This metaphysical dispute about a spatially extended present was fueled by Einstein who said: Since there exists in the four dimensional structure no longer any slices which represent “now”objectively…it appears more natural to think of physical reality as a four dimensional existence instead of. predictions have no (classical) truth values at the time they are uttered. Truth is eternal or fixed. following a suggestion from Aristotle. argue that the sentence is not true until it can be known to be true. so also basic objects are four-dimensional sub-blocks.” And suppose that tomorrow the admiral orders a sneak attack on the enemy ships. The sentence was not true before the battle occurred. they say. The issue is whether contingent sentences uttered now about future events are true or false now rather than true or false only in the future at the time the predicted event is supposed to occur. and so humans have no free will. not one that merely says “is true now. but only that you will not do otherwise. Enduring and Perduring Objects One implication of the block universe theory is that events are the basic objects of the universe. Suppose someone says. To prolong a tennis match is to elongate its four-dimensional block along the time axis. b. Advocates of the block universe argue that. and “is true” is a tenseless predicate. then the above sentence was true all along. To defend free will. Predictions fall into the “truth value gap. then humans are determined to perform those actions. however.

such as with adverbial time phrases such as “now. then we are treating them as being as real as the people around us now. One answer is that tense distinctions represent objective features of reality that are not captured by the popular block universe approach. A fourth challenge. 10. Without the premises in this argument having truth values. or the Atheory in McTaggart’s sense of A vs. The primary function of tensed facts is to make tensed sentences true. here is a deductively valid argument: There will be a sea battle tomorrow. so Aristotle’s position is implausible. what sort of deductive logic to use. but about the significance of the distinctions of past. that is. he could avoid those difficulties in assessing the validity of arguments that involve sentences having future tense. and whose verbs are treated as tenseless]. how should we understand the past tense verb in. For the purposes of explaining that point. “To formulate logical laws in such a way as not to depend thus upon the assumption of fixed truth and falsity would be decidedly awkward and complicated. 189). with advocates of the tenseless theory objecting to tensed facts such as the fact of Mohammed’s having been born. On the tenseless theory of time. For example. and wholly unrewarding. Quine has claimed that the analysts of our talk involving time should in principle be able to eliminate the temporal indexical words because their removal is needed for fixed truth and falsity of our sentences [fixed in the sense of being eternal sentences whose truth values are not relative because the indicator words have been replaced by times. or the B-theory. expresses conceptions of time with tenses but also in other ways. similarly. If there will be a sea battle tomorrow.A third challenge arises from moral discussions about the interests of people who are as yet unborn. “Mohammed’s birth occurred centuries ago”? There are two major answers. This controversy is often presented as a dispute about whether tensed facts exist. The proponent of the tenseless view does not deny the importance or coherence of talk about the past. but in only half the world’s languages is the ordering of events expressed in the form of tense (Pinker. Only the block universe view can make sense of this treatment. we should wake up the admiral. present. whether the birth of Mohammed occurred there depends on the speaker’s perspective.” “tomorrow” and “twenty-three days ago. This answer takes tenses very seriously and is called the tensed theory of time. being true or false.” Philosophers have asked what we are basically committed to when we locate an event in the past. whether the birth occurs then is equally subjective. Are There Essentially-Tensed Facts? All the world’s cultures have a conception of time. and whether future contingent sentences have truth values. Philosophers are still very divided on the issues of whether only the present is real. the Aristotelian position says that some of these component sentences are neither true nor false. from Quine and others. in the present. A second answer to the question of the significance of tenses is that they are subjective features of the perspective from which the subject views the universe. let us uncritically accept the Correspondence Theory of Truth and apply it to the following past tense sentence: Custer died in Montana. claims the Aristotelian position wreaks havoc with the logical system we use to reason and argue with predictions.” says Quine. proponents of the Aristotelian argument claim that if Quine would embrace tensed propositions and expand his classical logic to a tense logic. The English language. My assertion that Mohammed’s birth has occurred might be analyzed as asserting that the birth event happens beforethe event of my writing this sentence. Unfortunately. we cannot properly assess the argument using the usual standards of deductive validity because this standard is about the relationships among truth values of the component sentences–that a valid argument is one in which it is impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion to be false. places and names. or in the future. For example. B. . but will say it really is (or should be analyzed as being) talk about our own relation to events. In reaction to this fourth challenge. and future which those tenses are used to mark. So. p. and having fixed truth values is crucial for the logical system used to clarify science. Actually this disagreement isn’t really about tenses in the grammatical sense. Quine argues that if we have an obligation to conserve the environment for these people. for example. then we should wake up the admiral.

Prior [1959] had argued that after a painful event. The analysis is challenged on the grounds that it can succeed only for utterances or inscriptions..” My gladness is explained by my belief that the event is past. for that matter. the meaning of tensed sentences can be explained without utilizing tensed properties or tensed facts. there are no essentially-tensed facts. argues that the Correspondence Theory should be applied only to the result of analyzing away tensed sentences into equivalent sentences that do not use tenses. N. then the tensed theory would imply The sentence “Custer died in Montana” is true because it corresponds to the tensed fact that Custer died in Montana. say. and time t is before the time of the utterance (or writing) of the sentence “Custer died in Montana” by Dowden in the article “Time” in The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. There are other challenges. H. plus its being true that the time of the occurrence of that utterance is greater than the time of the occurrence of the painful event. One approach. “Thank goodness the date of the conclusion of that thing is Friday. “Thank goodness that’s over. sentences) about time imply which others. the verb dies is logically tenseless (although grammatically it is present tensed). but a sentence can be true even if never uttered or written by anyone. the tenseless analysis fails. So. They might say that the sentence “Custer died in Montana” has this equivalent “eternal” sentence: There is a time t such that Custer dies in Montana at time t. The classical approach to temporal logic is via tense logic. according to Mellor. If we can do without essentially-tensed facts.” Why should anyone thank goodness for that?). If I am speaking to you and say. Mellor would say it is not the pastness of the painful event that explains why I say. Trying to analyze it as. tenseless sentences can be used to explain the logical relations between tensed sentences: that one tensed sentence implies another. It certainly doesn’t mean the same as. is inconsistent with yet another. Applying the Correspondence Theory to this new sentence yields: The sentence “Custer died in Montana” is true because it corresponds to the tenseless fact that there is a time t such that Custer dies in Montana at time t. In other words. June 15. Prior claim that the word “is” in the sentence “Itis now midnight” is essentially present tensed because there is no translation using only tenseless verbs. says the truth conditions of any tensed sentence can be explained without tensed facts even if Chisholm and Prior are correct that some tensed sentences can not be translated into tenseless ones. does it mean “Thank goodness the conclusion of that thing is contemporaneous with this utterance. tensed facts were presumed to be needed to account for the truth of tensed talk. 1954. “Thank goodness that’s over. To summarize..g. “There is a time t such that t = midnight” is to miss the essential reference to the present in the original sentence because the original sentence is not always true. This analysis does not require tensed facts. but the sentence “There is a time t such that t = midnight” is always true. “It is now midnight. Roderick Chisholm and A.” and [this]…says something which it is impossible that any use of a tenseless copula with a date should convey.g. e. And understanding truth conditions and truth implications is the main thing you know when you understand a declarative sentence. D. but the analysis shows that ordinary tenseless facts are adequate. Notice that no tensed facts were appealed to in the explanation of those truth conditions. one says.If we apply the Correspondence Theory directly to this sentence. the classical tenseless approach. 11. Earlier. e. a formalism that adds tense operators to an existing system of symbolic . (Nor. So. There is no escape by adding “and t is now” because this last indexical still needs analysis. What is Temporal Logic? Temporal logic is the representation of information about time by using the methods of symbolic logic to formalize which statements (propositions. which in turn is the same time as when our standard clockdeclares the time to be midnight in our reference frame. and we are starting a vicious regress. In addition.” even if it be said then. Opponents of tensed facts argue that the Correspondence Theory should be applied only indirectly. and time t is before the time of the writing of the sentence “Custer died in Montana” by Dowden in the article “Time” in The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. and so forth. Mellor. then we should say essentially-tensed facts do not exist. Then Ockham’s Razor is applied.” then the conditions under which this is true are that my utterance of “It is now midnight” occurs at the same time as your hearing the utterance. In this analysis. who advocates a newer subjective theory of tenses.

not a matter for logic to settle. Another axiom might state that if proposition q is true. the argument here is that this is an empirical matter. he developed a three-valued symbolic logic. Prior had the idea that the truth of a tensed proposition should be expressed in terms of truth at a time. If “x is resting” is represented classically as R(x). The pioneer in the late 1950s was A. the present time. or else Indeterminate [T.” “at all times. That assumption is challenged by some philosophers such as W.” It is controversial whether to add axioms that express the topology of time. The first person to give a clear presentation of the implications of treating declarative sentences as being neither true nor false was the Polish logician Jan Lukasiewicz in 1920. say “n”. This helps with the translation of common temporal propositions (statements. To carry out Aristotle’s suggestion that future contingent sentences do not yet have truth values.” and so he adapted modal propositional logic for his tense logic.3 system of modal logic. That is. This axiom captures part of our ordinary conception of time as a linear succession of states of the world. let q be “Socrates is sitting down. early contributions to tense logic. Prior was the first to appreciate that time concepts are similar in structure to modal concepts such as “it is possible that” and “it is necessary that. The axiom says that for any two present-tensed propositions p and q. For example. A predicate such as “is less than seven” does not involve time. to denote now. F.deductive logic. This so-called method of “temporal arguments” adds an additional variable. for example that it comes to an end or doesn’t come to an end. Regarding a semantics for tense logic.” Prior assumes that a proposition such as “Socrates is sitting down” can be true at one time and false at another time. a time argument. In this formal tense logic. the usual modal operator “it is possible that” is re-interpreted to mean “at some past time it was the case that. Prior and others have suggested a wide variety of axioms for tense logic. Quine. The axioms might allow time to be a dense linear ordering of instantaneous instants or to be continuous or to have some other structure. Some extension of classical tense logic is definitely needed in order to express “q has been true for the past three days.3 system’s key axiom is the equivalence Pp & Pq iff P(p & q) v P(p & Pq) v P(q & Pp). where R is a one-argument predicate. in the tense logic just presented. but logicians still disagree about what axioms are needed to make correct beliefs about time be theorems that are logical consequences of those axioms. The other major approach to temporal logic does not use a tense logic. such as Aristotle’s prediction that there will be a sea battle tomorrow.” “happens before. He created a new symbolic logic to describe our use of time words such as “now. Truth tables for the connectives of propositional logic are redefined to maintain logical consistency and to . Contingent sentences about the future.V. Occasionally the method of temporal arguments uses a special constant symbol. then it would be represented in temporal logic as R(x. Prior. Dummett and Lemmon also made major. but the predicate “is resting” does. with all grammatical declarative sentences having the truth-values of True. False. to any predicate involving time in order to indicate how its satisfaction depends on time. who prefers to think of propositions as being timelessly true or timelessly false.” “afterwards.” Let the letter “P” represent this operator.” and “sometimes. The S4. One standard system of tense logic is a variant of the S4. Some temporal logics allow sentences to lack a classical truth-value. N. or declarative sentences). then it will always be true that q has been true at some time. and this difference in treatment is objectionable to some metaphysicians. This suggestion has led to an extensive development of the formal semantics for tense logic. The concept of being in the past is usually treated by metaphysicians as a predicate that assigns properties to events. or I]. but. R has been changed to a two-argument predicate by adding a “temporal argument. Instead.” The proposition that q has always been true may be translated into first-order temporal logic as (∀t)[(t < n) → q(t)]. a modal proposition Pp (it was once the case that p) is true at a time t if and only if p is true at some time t0 earlier than t.” The time variable “t” is treated as a new sort of variable with its own axioms. at some past time it was the case that p or q if and only if either at some past time it was the case that p or at some past time it was the case that q. are assigned an I. and add to the axioms of classical propositional logicthe modal-like axiom P(p v q) iff Pp v Pq.t) and would be interpreted as saying x has property R at time t. it formalizes temporal reasoning within a first-order logic without modal-like tense operators. the concept is treated as an operator P upon propositions.

by Peter Machamer and Michael Silberstein. 15. 25. 1995). 2. the time of ordinary discourse. and Lorentz Transformations Proper Times. 20. o A cartoon-style book covering most of the topics in this article in a more elementary way. Blackwell Publishers. discrete time. 6. Totem Books. 9. “Philosophy of Space-Time Physics” in The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Science. 23. 1974) for more details about this application of three-valued logic.maximally preserve our intuitions about truth and falsehood. 173-98. time obeying general relativity. 8. Coordinate systems. 12. 19. 22. Coordinate Systems. Frequently Asked Questions The following questions are addressed in the Time Supplement article: 1. pp. Introducing Time. 14. 16. Callender. ed. Each page is two-thirds graphics and one-third text. Craig and Carl Hoefer. 5. 7. 10. . and Lorentz Transformations (by Andrew Holster) 13. See (Haack. 24. Different temporal logics have been created depending on whether one wants to model circular time. 2002. 3. 12. For an introduction to temporal logic. 13. USA. and Ralph Edney. What Science Requires of Time What Science Requires of Time c. 11. and so forth. 17. see (Øhrstrøm and Hasle. 2001. Supplements a. 21. 18. 4. What Are Instants and Durations? What Is an Event? What Is a Reference Frame? What Is an Inertial Frame? What Is Spacetime? What Is a Minkowski Diagram? What Are the Metric and the Interval? Does the Theory of Relativity Imply Time Is Part of Space? Is Time the Fourth Dimension? Is There More Than One Kind of Physical Time? How Is Time Relative to the Observer? What Is the Relativity of Simultaneity? What Is the Conventionality of Simultaneity? What Is the Difference Between the Past and the Absolute Past? What Is Time Dilation? How Does Gravity Affect Time? What Happens to Time Near a Black Hole? What Is the Solution to the Twin Paradox (Clock Paradox)? What Is the Solution to Zeno’s Paradoxes? How Do Time Coordinates Get Assigned to Points of Spacetime? How Do Dates Get Assigned to Actual Events? What Is Essential to Being a Clock? What Does It Mean for a Clock To Be Accurate? What Is Our Standard Clock? Why Are Some Standard Clocks Better Than Others? b. Craig. References and Further Reading Callender. Special Relativity: Proper times.

Explains how the belief that time is fundamental may be an illusion because time emerges from a universe that is basically static. 2006. A look at the brain structures involved in how our mind organizes our experiences into the proper temporal order. philosophy of science. o instants. Krauss. pp.” Damasio. The Metaphysics of Time: A Dialogue. A popular exposition of the details behind the possibilities of time travel. An easy to read survey of the impact of the theory of relativity on our understanding of time.” Discover Magazine. no. A Brief History of Time. 58-65. o o o o 2009. Haack. 143-186. Because of the spaceship’s changing velocity by turning around. 2006. Dec. Katzenstein.” Physical Review. pp. 2002.” Scientific American. Craig. The MIT Press. Discusses the future of intelligent life and how it might adapt to and survive the expansion of the universe. McGill-Queens University Press: Ithaca. the arrow of time. 1992.vol. and a defense of the treatment of time and space as being continua and of physical processes as being aggregates of point-events. “The Fate of Life in the Universe. Asymmetries in Time. Simon & Schuster. Sean. Time and Space. o o o o An attack on the notion of time’s flow. Chapter 4 contains a clear account of Aristotle’s argument (in section 9c of the present article) for truth value gaps. Sean. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. 1995. Davies. Scientific American Special Edition: A Matter of Time. and time travel. see endnote 137 for p. black holes. A collection of Scientific American articles about time. 497-515. Larry. with helpful graphs showing how each twin would view his clock and the other twin’s clock during the trip. 1950-51.” Philosophy. and time came into existence when one of the space dimensions evolved into a time dimension. 21-23. 1987. Ronald C. 1974. Stephen. A constructivist model of time that challenges the idea that time is composed of durationless Grünbaum. o o Contains the quotation about how the mind reconstructs its story of what is happening “now.34-41.o o Discusses whether it is a fact or a convention that in a reference frame the speed of light going one direction is the same as the speed coming back. 1996. Hawking. 2002. o o o A monograph that relates the central problems of time to other problems in metaphysics. He calls this space dimension “imaginary time. philosophy of language and philosophy of action. but at a deeper level. Hawking. Antonio R. “Time and the Twin Paradox. pp. the twin on the spaceship has a shorter world-line than the Earth-based twin and takes less time than the Earth-based twin. Deutsch. For an interesting answer to the question of whether any interaction between our part of the universe and a part in which the arrow of times goes in reverse. Second Edition. pp. Callender. reprinted in Katzenstein. p. online 2011. How to Build a Time Machine.” in Katzenstein. pp. Paul. Davies. 2010. Starkman. 16. Carroll. “Remembering When. Adolf.” Scientific American: Special Edition: A Matter of Time. The Philosophy of Time. Le Poidevin. A survey of all the topics in this article. “Is Time a Continuum of Instants?. “Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Time. 3.” Scientific American Special Edition: The Once and Future Cosmos. Barry. . Cambridge University Press. March 1994. From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time. and Glenn D. 164. Viking Penguin. Oxford University Press. Difficult reading. D 46. and its development in Lukasiewicz’s three-valued logic. 287. Dowden. vol. 603. Robin and Murray MacBeath. 1. June. 2010. Reasons for the impossibility of time travel. Paul. An investigation of the puzzle of getting information for free by traveling in time. An undergraduate textbook in dialogue form that covers most of the topics discussed in this Dummett. 2000. Susan. ed. Cosmic Variance. Lasky. o Part Three “Entropy and Time’s Arrow” provides a very clear explanation of the details of the problems involved with time’s arrow.” Review of Metaphysics. A leading theoretical physicist provides introductory chapters on space and time. Dainton. Carroll. o encyclopedia article. o A short. 2002. 68-74. “Relativity and the Atomicity of Becoming. Stephen. Hawking suggests that perhaps our universe originally had four space dimensions and no time dimension. Bantam Books. the origin and fate of the universe. Updated and Expanded Tenth Anniversary Edition.” Horwich. 50-57. 1993. 2010. pp. 2006. but careful and authoritative analysis of the twin paradox. Deviant Logic. Lawrence M. no. About Time: Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution. Scientific American. Michael. Inc. Paul. Cambridge University Press. “The Chronology Protection Hypothesis. Dutton/Penguin Group. Bradley. David and Michael Lockwood. pp. Includes a discussion of Benjamin Libet’s discovery in the 1970s that the brain events involved in initiating a free choice occur about a third of a second before we are aware of our making the choice. New York. “Is Time an Illusion?”. “The Quantum Physics of Time Travel.

1927. and Spacetime. 1. Vol. 1967. 1995. and thought experiments about time. It emphasizes the logical and mathematical structure of time. This monograph presents a subjective theory of tenses. Dennis. “Time Really Passes. 1986. time without change. Time’s Arrows Today: Recent Physical and Philosophical Work on the Direction of Time. Difficult reading for undergraduates. A brief defense of presentism.” Studium Generale. and an emphasis on elementary introductions to the relationship of time to change. 2003. Mellor. Sciama. “Time without Change. Chapter 33 restates more clearly the arguments that McTaggart presented in 1908 for his A series and B series and how they should be understood to show that time is unreal. 17.). “Thank Goodness That’s Over. Oxford University Press. Robin. There is a de-emphasis on teaching the scientific theories. Penguin Group. John. 2007. difficulties with Zeno’s Paradoxes. Lockwood. Tim. where Sklar argues that Einstein’s theory does not support Mach’s views against Newton’s interpretations of his bucket experiment. that is. D. Space. “The Notion of the Present. presupposing sophisticated knowledge of mathematics and physics. “Schrödinger’s Time-Traveller. 66 (1969).” in The Nature of Time edited by Raymond Flood and Michael Lockwood. and argues that the passage of time is objective.” Journal of Philosophy.” in Zimmerman. Present and Future. A survey of the philosophical issues involving time. The treatment of time travel says. Prior. Steven. and why time has an arrow.o A collection of twelve influential articles on the passage of time. the symbolic logic of time. 1998. whether time passes. Chapter 15. Hasle. A. volume 23. F. tense and modality. A. the nature of the present. subjective facts. it simply does not exist in the intervening times.” Øhrstrøm. University of California Press. which permits propositions to be true at one time and false at another. . Argues that a tenseless or B-theory of time fails to account for our relief that painful past events are in the past rather than in the present. N. Section E discusses general relativity and the problem of substantival spacetime. International Library of Philosophy. Mach’s argument against substantivialism fails. Prior. The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature. possible worlds. The Metaphysics Within Physics. An elementary introduction to the logic of temporal reasoning. 34 (1959). H.Mente: Journal of Philosophical Studies. “A Defense of Presentism. p. 2003. M. 2005. pp. Maudlin.” Humana. Newton-Smith. Time. 1976. o A philosopher of physics presents the implications of contemporary physics for our understanding of time. Markosian. Steven F. o A philosophical introduction to conceptual questions involving space and time.). Basil Blackwell. Michael. “On the Passing of Time. 6-21. Lawrence. (ed. N. Pinker. Oxford Studies in Metaphysics. o o o o Chapter 4.” Philosophy. Routledge & Kegan Paul. N. Real Time II. Travels in Four Dimensions: The Enigmas of Space and Time. 1980. A survey of research in this area. So we protect our vanity by the stratagem of dismissing passage as an illusion. McTaggart. pp. Cambridge University Press. Kluwer Academic Publishers. Past. Savitt. E. 245-8. o 2007. Temporal Logic: from Ancient Ideas to Artificial Intelligence. Oxford University Press. pp. time travel. Dean (ed. Ned. A pioneering work in temporal logic. 363-381. 1995. o Chapter III. 13 April 2010. Norton. Sklar. causal theories of time. the unreality of time. Cambridge University Press. o o o o o o o Chapter 4 discusses how the conceptions of space and time are expressed in language in a way very different from that described by either Kant or Newton. Le Poidevin. Oxford University Press. A thought experiment designed to show us how time could exist even without any change in the universe. causation. A good account of the twin paradox. The Nature of Existence. V. empty time. The Structure of Time.” as measured from an external reference frame. Mellor argues that the truth conditions of any tensed sentence can be explained without tensed facts. A. Shoemaker. the view that the past and the future are not real.” defends the dynamic theory of time’s flow. rather oddly. direction and possibility. Prior. 1970. W. The Labyrinth of Time: Introducing the Universe. the reality of the future. Oxford University Press. “Time ‘Paradoxes’ in Relativity.” presents the Oxford physicist David Deutsch’s quantum analysis of time travel. that time machines “disappear” and that when a “time machine leaves for 2101. the implications that different structures for time have for our understanding of causation. J. topology. Oxford University Press. Suitable for use as an undergraduate textbook without presupposing any other course in philosophy. H. Sydney. and P. Difficult reading. P. o Argues that “We don’t find passage in our present theories and we would like to preserve the vanity that our physical theories of time have captured all the important facts of time.

1985. S. Norton & Co. Columbia University Press. and psychology. 1988. 5465.Sorabji. 2011. o o Chapter 10 discusses ancient and contemporary accounts of circular time. April. reprinted in Katzenstein. “The Inflation Debate: Is the theory at the heart of modern cosmology deeply flawed?” Scientific American. Bas C. Whitrow. Pitched at a higher level than the Davies books. Thorne. Clarendon Press. “The Myth of the Beginning of Time. Veneziano hypothesizes that our Big Bang event was not the origin of time but simply the outcome of a preexisting state. J. Matter. Van Fraassen. 1994. Second Edition. 1980. An advanced undergraduate textbook by an important philosopher of California U. G. W. & Motion: Theories in Antiquity and Their Sequel. pp. Cornell University Press. Argues that the Big Bang Theory with inflation is incorrect and that we need a cyclic cosmology with an eternal series of big bangs and big crunches but with no inflation. pp. Space. A broad survey of the topic of time and its role in physics. 36-43. W. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Time and Space. o o o o Chapter 14 is a popular account of how to use a wormhole to create a time machine. Kip S. 2006. Dowden State University. pp. Veneziano. Paul J. Steinhardt. A. Richard. biology. Author Information Bradley Email: dowden@csus. 72-81. Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy. 2001 . Gabriele.” Scientific American. 2011 | Originally published: August 11. May 2004. An account of string theory’s impact on our understanding of time’s origin. The Natural Philosophy of Time. Sacramento Last updated: June 11.