Time travel, coincidences, and counterfactuals

Philosophical Studies 110 (2):115 - 138 (2002)
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Abstract

In no possible world does a time traveler succeed in killing herearlier self before she ever enters a time machine. So if many,many time travelers went back in time trying to kill theirunprotected former selves, the time travelers would fail inmany strange, coincidental ways, slipping on bananapeels, killing the wrong victim, and so on. Such cases producedoubts about time travel. How could ``coincidences'' beguaranteed to happen? And wouldn't the certainty of coincidentalfailure imply that time travelers are not free to killtheir earlier selves? But if so, what would inhibit theirfreedom? Despite initial appearances, these and other doubtsmay be answered: the possibility of time travel survives yetanother challenge.

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Theodore Sider
Rutgers - New Brunswick

References found in this work

Counterfactuals.David Lewis - 1973 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 36 (3):602-605.
Counterfactuals.David Lewis - 1973 - Foundations of Language 13 (1):145-151.

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