Nothing to Come: A Defence of the Growing Block Theory of Time

Cham, Switzerland: Springer Verlag. Edited by Sven Rosenkranz (2018)
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This monograph is a detailed study, and systematic defence, of the Growing Block Theory of time (GBT), first conceived by C.D. Broad. The book offers a coherent, logically perspicuous and ideologically lean formulation of GBT, defends it against the most notorious objections to be found in the extant philosophical literature, and shows how it can be derived from a more general theory, consistent with relativistic spacetime, on the pre-relativistic assumption of an absolute and total temporal order. The authors devise axiomatizations of GBT and its competitors which, against the backdrop of a shared quantified tense logic, significantly improves the prospects of their comparative assessment. Importantly, neither of these axiomatizations involves commitment to properties of presentness, pastness or futurity. The authors proceed to address, and defuse, a number of objections that have been marshaled against GBT, including the so-called epistemic objection according to which the theory invites skepticism about our temporal location. The challenge posed by relativistic physics is met head-on, by replacing claims about temporal variation by claims about variation across spacetime. The book aims to achieve the greatest possible rigor. The background logic is set out in detail, as are the principles governing the notions of precedence and temporal location. The authors likewise devise a novel spacetime logic suited for the articulation, and comparative assessment, of relativistic theories of time. The book comes with three technical appendices which include soundness and completeness proofs for the systems corresponding to GBT and its competitors, in both their pre-relativistic and relativistic forms. The book is primarily directed at researchers and graduate students working on the philosophy of time or temporal logic, but is of interest to metaphysicians and philosophical logicians more generally.



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In this chapter we devise a spacetime logic and argue that temporaryism must give way to spatiotemporaryism, which latter construes variation in what exists as variation across spacetime. In Sect. 9.1 we argue that much of the rationale for thinking, in a prerelativistic setting, that what exists va... see more

The Growing Block

In this chapter we reconstruct the original version of the Growing Block Theory of time first advanced by C. D. Broad, highlight its shortcomings, and propose an improved version of the theory. We show that this improved version of the theory is superior to two more recent attempts to capture the id... see more

The Other Contenders

In this chapter we offer novel characterisations of presentism and permanentism which, or so we argue, significantly improve upon extant accounts. In particular, we show that, given the availability of these characterisations, neither presentism nor dynamic permanentism needs to invoke any substanti... see more

Classical Theories of Time, and Relativity

In this chapter we explicate the challenge posed to classical theories of time by relativistic physics, and show that two recent attempts to reconcile such theories with Special and General Relativity founder. We conclude that a systematic revision of the classical theories is called for. In Sect. 8... see more

Existence, Quantification and Identity

In this chapter we introduce the distinction between permanentist and temporaryist ontologies and present a non-classical theory of unrestricted quantification and identity that is compatible with either type of view. We discuss and defuse a recent objection that temporaryism cannot accommodate unre... see more

The Epistemic Objection

In this chapter we critically discuss the so-called epistemic objection against the Growing Block Theory of time and argue that it rests on flawed conceptions of tense and of the import of the theory’s main tenets. We show how the theory enables knowledge of the location of the edge of reality that ... see more

Temporal Relations

In this chapter we introduce the relations of temporal location and precedence, critically review McTaggart’s conception of the existential import of these relations, and devise axioms governing them that are acceptable to permanentists and temporaryists alike. In Sect 3.1 we critically review McTag... see more

Bivalence, Future Contingents and the Open Future

In this chapter we critically discuss the objection that since truths require grounds, the Growing Block Theory must take bivalence to fail for future contingents, while it proves at odds with the best account of such a failure. We challenge the version of the grounding requirement driving this obje... see more

Taking Tense Seriously

In this chapter we introduce the system of propositional tense logic that we will use throughout the book, clarify what it means to take tense seriously for the purposes of metaphysical enquiry, and clarify the contrast between dynamic and static conceptions of reality. In Sect. 1.1 we set out Arthu... see more

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Author Profiles

Sven Rosenkranz
Universitat de Barcelona
Fabrice Correia
University of Geneva

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On the Plurality of Worlds.David Lewis - 1986 - Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell.
Writing the Book of the World.Theodore Sider - 2011 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Modal Logic as Metaphysics.Timothy Williamson - 2013 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
The Problems of Philosophy.Bertrand Russell - 1912 - Portland, OR: Home University Library.
Elements of symbolic logic.Hans Reichenbach - 1947 - London: Dover Publications.

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