ISBN : 9780198713272
What does the passage of time consist in? There are some suggestive metaphors. aEvents approach us, pass us, and recede from us, like sticks and leaves floating on the river of time.a aWe are moving from the past into the future, like ships sailing into an unknown ocean.a There is surely something right and deep about these metaphors. But how close are they to the literal truth? In this book Bradford Skow argues that they are far from the literal truth. Skowas argument takes the form of a defense of the block universe theory of time, a theory that, in many ways, treats time as a dimension of reality that closely resembles the three dimensions of space. Opposed to the block universe theory of time are theories that take the metaphors more seriously: presentism, the moving spotlight theory, the growing block theory, and the branching time theory. These are theories of arobusta passage of time, or aobjective becoming.a Skow argues that the best of these theories, the block universe theoryas most worthy opponent, is the moving spotlight theory, the theory that says that apresentnessa moves along the series of times from the past into the future. Skow defends the moving spotlight theory against the objection that it is inconsistent, and the objection that it cannot answer the question of how fast time passes. He also defends it against the objection that it is incompatible with Einsteinas theory of relativity. Skow proposes several ways in which the moving spotlight theory may be made compatible with the theory of relativity. Still, this book is ultimately a defense of the block universe theory, not of the moving spotlight theory. Skow holds that the best arguments against the block universe theory, and for the moving spotlight theory, start from the idea that, somehow, the passage of time is given to us in experience. Skow discusses several different arguments that start from this idea, and argues that they all fail.
1. Introduction: Time Passes?
2. The Block Universe
3. What Might Robust Passage Be?
4. The Moving Spotlight
5. Growing Blocks and Branching Times
6. The Moving Spotlight Theory is Consistent
7. How Fast Does Time Pass?
8. The Challenge from Relativity
9. Relativity and the Passage of Time
10. Can We Move Through Time?
11. Passage and Experience, I
12. Passage and Experience, II
13. Concluding Thoughts: Passage and Time-Biased Preferences