On the Conceptual Necessity of the B-theory of Time
Kristie Miller (University of Sydney)

May 11, 2012, 3:15pm - 5:15pm
Philosophy & Bioethics Departments, Monash University

Philosophy Department Library (Room 916, Bldg. 11, Menzies West)
55 Wellington Rd
Melbourne 3800


University of Alabama, Birmingham

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Abstract: B-theorists have been too quick to grant that the A-theory of time best captures our concept of time and that the B-theory account of time is a second-best deserver. This concession has led B-theorists to suppose that if the B-theory is necessarily true, it is because the A-theory is logically inconsistent. This paper examines the conceptual necessity or impossibility of both the A- and B-theories of time. First two conditional claims are defended. Whether one ought to be a conceptual contingentist or a conceptual necessitarian about the A- and B-theories depends on how sensitive one thinks our concept of time is, to the way our world is. If our concept of time is not at all sensitive to the way our world is, then there is substantial scope for being a conceptual contingentist and hence also a contingentist simpliciter about the A- and B-theories. If our concept is highly sensitive to the way the world is, then conceptual necessitarianism and hence necessitarianism simpliciter of one form or another is vindicated. It is then argued that our concept of time is sensitive to the way the actual world is, and that given plausible assumptions about that concept the A- and B-theory are conceptually on a par. Just as there are ways the actual world might be revealed to be, that would entail the conceptually necessity of the A-theory and conceptual impossibility of the B-theory, so too there are ways the actual world might turn out to be that entail the conceptual necessity of the B-theory and conceptual impossibility of the A-theory. Hence B-theorists should reject the claim that the B-theory is conceptually inferior to the A-theory.

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