Physics, Time, and Agency

June 28, 2022 - June 29, 2022
The Irish Society for the Philosophy of Time

28/06/2022 - Old Physics Theatre, Newman House (Museum of Literature Ireland): 86 Newman House, St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, D02 CC99. 29/06/2022: TRISS Seminar Room, 6th Floor, Arts Building, Trinity College Dublin

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities


  • Irish Research Council New Foundations Grant
  • The Mind Association
  • The British Society for the Philosophy of Science
  • Department of Philosophy, Trinity College Dublin
  • The Arts and Social Sciences Benefaction Fund, Trinity College Dublin
  • The Events Fund, Trinity College Dublin
  • School of Philosophy, University College Dublin


Yonsei University
Leibniz Universität Hannover
Trinity College, Dublin
King's College London
University of Bonn
University of Glasgow
Università degli Studi di Milano

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Event Description: The conference will debate the role of agency in physical accounts of time, and will use this debate as a basis to explore the role of agency in accounts of scientific relations more broadly: including causation, laws and chances. Physics tells us much about the nature of time, but it doesn’t explain why time seems to have a direction or why time seems to ‘flow’. In response, researchers have paid increasing attention to how we are situated in time. For example, Ismael and Callender argue that the reason we think of the future as a realm of possibilities is because of how we model time in deliberation and in action. ‘Agent-based’ (Price, Fernandes) and ‘physics-based’ (Albert) accounts of causation use features of how we deliberate to explain why causal relations are directed towards the future. But there is no consensus on the role agency should play in these explanations, or on the upshots for our broader understanding of time. For example, if agency is used to explain causal asymmetry, does this imply that causal asymmetry is objective (Albert, Papineau), or a matter of our perspective (Price)? The conference aims to elucidate the role of agency in physical accounts of time and temporal asymmetries, on the way to understanding the role of agency more broadly in a naturalistic philosophy of science.

Registration: The conference is free to attend in person or online, but you'll need to register. Please send an email to [email protected] stating your full name, institutional affiliation (if any), any dietary requirements or accessibility requirements, and whether you would like to register for the online or in person event.

Early Career Bursaries: A number of small bursaries will be available to support the attendance of PhD students or other early career researchers without access to institutional funding. Please state your interest when registering.

The conference will be adopting the BPA/SWIP Good Practice Scheme and the BPA/SWIP Guidelines for Accessible Conferences. The venues of the conference (including restaurants) are wheelchair accessible, with accessible toilets accessible from the conference room. Accessible accommodation will be available. We will do our best to assist those with caring responsibilities (and funds may be available). Please do contact us if there are any specific points on which we need to provide more information.

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June 21, 2022, 12:00am IST

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