Passage in the Block
Tim Maudlin (New York University)

part of: 4th Annual IAPT Conference
June 14, 2017, 9:30am - 10:30am
Department of philosophy, University of Milan

Palazzo Feltrinelli
Via Castello 4
Gargnano 25084
Italy

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Organisers:

Wake Forest University
Davide Bordini
University of Milan
Valerio Buonomo
University of Milan
Université de Genève
Fabrice Correia
University of Neuchatel
Samuele Iaquinto
University of Milan
David Ingram
University of Milan
Colgate University
Kristie Miller
University of Sydney
University of Geneva
Giuliano Torrengo
University of Milan
Christian Wüthrich
University of California, San Diego
Nick Young
University of Milan

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Abstract. Over many years, different views about the nature and structure of space and time have acquired various names and associations. In one common usage, it is said that one sort of view accepts a “block universe” or is a “B-theory”, and therefore rejects the notions of a “passage” or “flow” of time, while a “dynamical” or “A-theory” account of time accepts that time “flows” or “passes”. Further, it is also often added that according the “block universe” view there is no intrinsic direction of time, while according to a “dynamical” theory there is. Finally, it is often said that present physics (especially Relativity) endorses or entails a ‘block universe” theory, so anyone desiring to maintain that time “passes” must modify present physics. I will argue that all of this is misconceived. There is no incompatibility between a “block universe” and “dynamical time” or “passage of time”. Further, nothing in physics precludes, or even casts doubt on, an intrinsic direction of time. If one wants to speak of a block universe, there is passage in the block and directionality in the block. I will briefly discuss a way of characterizing the geometrical structure of space-time that can make this evident.

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