Temporal B-Coming: Passage without Presentness

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (1):130-147 (2021)
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It is taken as obvious that there is a conflict between objective temporal passage and relativistic physics. The traditional formulation of temporal passage is the movement of a universe-wide set of simultaneous events known as the NOW; the Special Theory of Relativity implies that there is no NOW and therefore no temporal passage. The vast majority of those who accept the B-theory blockworld—the metaphysics of time most friendly to relativistic physics—deny that time passes. I argue that this denial is a mistake. Contrary to overwhelmingly popular opinion, temporal passage does not need a NOW. To show this, I defend a relational understanding of temporal becoming, that I call B-coming, in which an event y B-comes with respect to x iff R xy. Temporal passage is then the difference in what has B-come at one point in a thing’s history with respect to what has B-come at an earlier point in that thing’s history. Appealing to this kind of relation is a strategy that is well-known but has been widely dismissed. This dismissal is premature; I show that the essential elements of temporal passage do not necessarily require a NOW. There can be passage without presentness.



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Author's Profile

Lisa Leininger
Hobart and William Smith Colleges

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