Physics, Time and Agency

July 6, 2020 - July 7, 2020
Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin


This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities

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  • Mind Association
  • British Society for the Philosophy of Science
  • Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute
  • Arts and Social Sciences Benefaction Fund (Trinity College Dublin)
  • UCD School of Philosophy (University College Dublin)
  • Department of Philosophy (Trinity College Dublin)


Columbia University
University of California, San Diego
Yonsei University
Trinity College, Dublin
Columbia University
Cambridge University (PhD)
University of Glasgow


University College Dublin
Trinity College, Dublin

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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 agents 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), or a matter of our perspective (Price)? This 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.

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July 3, 2020, 5:00am IST

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Laura Howard

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