Special Issue "Time Travel"

A special issue of Philosophies (ISSN 2409-9287).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 March 2022) | Viewed by 10426

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Alasdair Richmond
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9AD, UK
Interests: time travel; time; space; philosophy of science; British empiricism

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue will be devoted to papers in the philosophy of time travel. Philosophy of time travel has come a long way since the foundational writings in the field by Kurt Gödel, David Lewis, and Paul Horwich. Whether driven by concerns about the metaphysics of time, the philosophy of freedom, spacetime physics, theories of persistence, agency theory, theories of personal identity, philosophy of action, philosophy of fiction, or even the philosophy of computation, time travel discussions are proliferating in a host of philosophical sub-disciplines. Philosophy of time travel now ranges from theories of how different interpretations of quantum mechanics might try to resolve Grandfather Paradoxes, through discussions about the impact that time travel cases might have on our understanding of life’s value and death’s harm, to questions about philosophical aesthetics, probability theory, historical artefacts, abstract entities, Divine identity, and the ultimate cosmological/theological origins of the universe. Particular areas of recent interest include the question of how far time travellers into the past might retain any meaningful sense of free agency or whether time travel worlds would have to be rigidly deterministic or even fatalistic. I very much hope that this Special Issue may extend the scope of philosophy of time travel still further. This Special Issue aims both to reflect and to broaden the range of time travel issues now in philosophical discussion. My hope is that this Special Issue will help philosophy of time travel boast still more relevant and accessible debates that both possess their own intrinsic interest and intersect with, e.g., metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, philosophy of science, and philosophy of religion. Papers are invited from potential contributors on any aspect of the philosophy of time travel (including, but not exhausted by, the topics mentioned above and the topics in the list of keywords below). I look forward to your submissions.

Dr. Alasdair Richmond
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • time travel
  • causal loops
  • persistence
  • object loops and information loops
  • Grandfather Paradoxes
  • closed timelike curves
  • personal time and external time
  • personal identity
  • free will
  • mereology
  • determinism and fatalism
  • metaphysics
  • philosophy of religion
  • spacetime
  • fiction.

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Introduction to Special Issue Time Travel
Philosophies 2022, 7(5), 100; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies7050100 - 07 Sep 2022
Viewed by 326
Abstract
The philosophy of time travel has an illustrious pedigree, having seen ground-breaking physical and philosophical treatments in the late 1940s and early 1950s from Kurt Gödel [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Time Travel)

Research

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Article
Back to the Present: How Not to Use Counterfactuals to Explain Causal Asymmetry
Philosophies 2022, 7(2), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies7020043 - 09 Apr 2022
Viewed by 913
Abstract
A plausible thought is that we should evaluate counterfactuals in the actual world by holding the present ‘fixed’; the state of the counterfactual world at the time of the antecedent, outside the area of the antecedent, is required to match that of the [...] Read more.
A plausible thought is that we should evaluate counterfactuals in the actual world by holding the present ‘fixed’; the state of the counterfactual world at the time of the antecedent, outside the area of the antecedent, is required to match that of the actual world. When used to evaluate counterfactuals in the actual world, this requirement may produce reasonable results. However, the requirement is deeply problematic when used in the context of explaining causal asymmetry (why causes come before their effects). The requirement plays a crucial role in certain statistical mechanical explanations of the temporal asymmetry of causation. I will use a case of backwards time travel to show how the requirement enforces certain features of counterfactual structure a priori. For this reason, the requirement cannot be part of a completely general method of evaluating counterfactuals. More importantly, the way the requirement enforces features of counterfactual structure prevents counterfactual structure being derived from more fundamental physical structure—as explanations of causal asymmetry demand. Therefore, the requirement cannot be used when explaining causal asymmetry. To explain causal asymmetry, we need more temporally neutral methods for evaluating counterfactuals—those that produce the right results in cases involving backwards time travel, as well as in the actual world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Time Travel)
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Article
Lessons from Grandfather
Philosophies 2022, 7(1), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies7010011 - 25 Jan 2022
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Abstract
Assume that, even with a time machine, Tim does not have the ability to travel to the past and kill Grandfather. Why would that be? And what are the implications for traditional debates about freedom? We argue that there are at least two [...] Read more.
Assume that, even with a time machine, Tim does not have the ability to travel to the past and kill Grandfather. Why would that be? And what are the implications for traditional debates about freedom? We argue that there are at least two satisfactory explanations for why Tim cannot kill Grandfather. First, if an agent’s behavior at time t is causally dependent on fact F, then the agent cannot perform an action (at t) that would require F to have not obtained. Second, if an agent’s behavior at time t is causally dependent on fact F, then the agent cannot perform an action (at t) that would prevent F from obtaining. These two explanations have distinct upshots for more traditional debates over freedom. The first implies that causal determinism is incompatible with the ability to do otherwise and also raises questions about the traditional arguments for the incompatibility of divine foreknowledge and the ability to do otherwise; the second does neither. However, both explanations imply that the Molinist account of divine providence renders agents unable to do otherwise, at least in certain circumstances. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Time Travel)
Article
Does Lewis’ Theory of Causation Permit Time Travel?
Philosophies 2021, 6(4), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies6040094 - 23 Nov 2021
Viewed by 1062
Abstract
David Lewis aimed to give an account of causation, and in particular, a semantics for the counterfactuals to which his account appeals, that is compatible with backwards causation and time travel. I will argue that he failed, but not for the reasons that [...] Read more.
David Lewis aimed to give an account of causation, and in particular, a semantics for the counterfactuals to which his account appeals, that is compatible with backwards causation and time travel. I will argue that he failed, but not for the reasons that have been offered to date, specifically by Collins, Hall and Paul and by Wasserman. This is significant not the least because Lewis’ theory of causation was the most influential theory over the last quarter of the 20th century; and moreover, Lewis’ spirited defence of time travel in the 1970s has shaped philosophers’ approach to time travel to this day. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Time Travel)
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Article
Autoinfanticide Is No Biggie: The Reinstatement Reply to Vihvelin
Philosophies 2021, 6(4), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies6040087 - 18 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 957
Abstract
David Lewis’s attempt to defuse grandfather paradoxes consistently without special restrictions on the ability of time travelers to act in the past is controversial. Kadri Vihvelin uses the case of possible autoinfanticide—killing one’s infant self—to argue on Lewisian grounds that Lewis is wrong, [...] Read more.
David Lewis’s attempt to defuse grandfather paradoxes consistently without special restrictions on the ability of time travelers to act in the past is controversial. Kadri Vihvelin uses the case of possible autoinfanticide—killing one’s infant self—to argue on Lewisian grounds that Lewis is wrong, since all counterfactual attempts at autoinfanticide would fail. I present a new defense of Lewis against Vihvelin premised on the possibility of personal reinstatement, where a person who dies prematurely is replicated from information collected from a previous live scan. I argue on Lewisian grounds that in a Vihvelin case where Suzy does not attempt to kill Baby Suzy, Vihvelin has not shown that Suzy would have failed had she tried to kill Baby Suzy. For, Baby Suzy might have been reinstated. Hence, even granting Vihvelin’s own assumptions, a Lewisian can assert that Suzy can kill Baby Suzy. Reinstatement does not require a “big” miracle; so autoinfanticide is no biggie. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Time Travel)
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Article
Exterminous Hypertime
Philosophies 2021, 6(4), 85; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies6040085 - 13 Oct 2021
Viewed by 1024
Abstract
This paper investigates ‘exterminous hypertime’, a model of time travel in which time travellers can change the past in virtue of there being two dimensions of time. This paper has three parts. Part one discusses the laws which might govern the connection between [...] Read more.
This paper investigates ‘exterminous hypertime’, a model of time travel in which time travellers can change the past in virtue of there being two dimensions of time. This paper has three parts. Part one discusses the laws which might govern the connection between different ‘hypertimes’, showing that there are no problems with overdetermination. Part two examines a set of laws that mean changes to history take a period of hypertime to propagate through to the present. Those laws are of interest because: (i) at such worlds, a particular problem for non-Ludovician time travel (‘the multiple time travellers’ problem) is avoided; and (ii) they allow us to make sense of certain fictional narratives. Part three discusses how to understand expectations and rational decision making in a world with two dimensions of time. I end with an appendix discussing how the different theories in the metaphysics of time (e.g., tensed/tenseless theories and presentism/eternalism/growing block theory) marry up with exterminous hypertime. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Time Travel)
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Article
Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
Philosophies 2021, 6(3), 78; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies6030078 - 18 Sep 2021
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Abstract
Causal loops are a recurring feature in the philosophy of time travel, where it is generally agreed that they are logically possible but may come with a theoretical cost. This paper introduces an unfamiliar set of causal loop cases involving knowledge or beliefs [...] Read more.
Causal loops are a recurring feature in the philosophy of time travel, where it is generally agreed that they are logically possible but may come with a theoretical cost. This paper introduces an unfamiliar set of causal loop cases involving knowledge or beliefs about the future: self-fulfilling prophecy loops (SFP loops). I show how and when such loops arise and consider their relationship to more familiar causal loops. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Time Travel)
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Article
Changing, Annulling and Otherwising the Past
Philosophies 2021, 6(3), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies6030071 - 30 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 676
Abstract
Despite a growing number of models argument for the logical possibility of changing the past there continues to be resistance to and confusion surrounding the possibility of changing the past. In this paper I shall attempt to mitigate the resistance and alleviate at [...] Read more.
Despite a growing number of models argument for the logical possibility of changing the past there continues to be resistance to and confusion surrounding the possibility of changing the past. In this paper I shall attempt to mitigate the resistance and alleviate at least some of the confusion by distinguishing changing the past from what Richard Hanley calls ‘annulling’ the past and distinguishing both from what I shall call ‘otherwising’ the past. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Time Travel)
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Article
What Time-Travel Teaches Us about Future-Bias
Philosophies 2021, 6(2), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies6020038 - 10 May 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 925
Abstract
Future-biased individuals systematically prefer positively valenced events to be in the future (positive future-bias) and negatively valenced events to be in the past (negative future-bias). The most extreme form of future-bias is absolute future-bias, whereby we completely discount the value of past events [...] Read more.
Future-biased individuals systematically prefer positively valenced events to be in the future (positive future-bias) and negatively valenced events to be in the past (negative future-bias). The most extreme form of future-bias is absolute future-bias, whereby we completely discount the value of past events when forming our preferences. Various authors have thought that we are absolutely future-biased and that future-bias (absolute or otherwise) is at least rationally permissible. The permissibility of future-bias is often held to be grounded in the structure of the temporal dimension. In this paper I consider several proposals for grounding the permissibility of such preferences and evaluate these in the light of the preferences we would have, and judge that we should have, in various time-travel scenarios. I argue that what we learn by considering these scenarios is that these preferences really have nothing to do with temporal structure. So, if something grounds their permissibility, it is not temporal structure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Time Travel)
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