Time, fixity, and the metaphysics of the future
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Philosophers who work on time often ignore the implications their doctrines have for the common sense intuition that the past is fixed and the future not. Similarly, those who work on fatalism, and whose arguments often imply an assertion or denial of the common sense intuition, rarely take into account the implicit dependence their arguments have upon specific theories of time. I take the intuition, and its relation to the nature of time, seriously. In Part I of my thesis, I investigate the relations between the dynamic and static theories of time, on the one hand, and the intuition, on the other. I argue that the so called 'pure' forms of these theories, inasmuch as they both posit an ontological temporal symmetry, cannot do justice to the intuition. The 'pure' B-Theory, with its denial of objective temporal becoming, cannot allow for a robust sense in which the future is non-fixed. The 'pure' A-Theory, according to which only the present exists, acknowledges the robustness of the asymmetry, but cannot provide a ground for it. I conclude Part I of my thesis with the claim that only a conception of time according to which the past exists and the future does not, can account for the intuition. In Part II, I discuss those fatalistic arguments which rely upon the determinateness of future truth as their key premise, and argue that these fail either because they rely on an illegitimate modal concept, or because they rely on a key undefended assumption. Finally, in the Epilogue, I provide a more detailed sketch of the account of time posited at the end of Part I, and suggest that it can also provide a more thoroughgoing rejection of the logical fatalistic argument.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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