“A Relativistic Argument Against Presentism” by Jane Loo (25 Mar)

The metaphysical doctrine of presentism has long been suspected of running into trouble with the special theory of relativity, and I argue that these suspicions are well founded.

If the presentist insists on retaining the original form of presentism, which requires an absolute notion of simultaneity, the form of presentism that results, point presentism, is untenable. Alternatively, if the presentist modifies classical presentism to accommodate a relativistic conception of simultaneity, the result is ambiguous, and there are three possible variants of presentism, (1) Relativist presentism, (2) Chauvinistic presentism, and (3) Bowtie presentism, none of which are tenable as well.

Lastly, I discuss cone presentism, which avoids the problems faced by simultaneity defined classical presentism, but faces different problems that arise as a result of its altered definition of “presence”. I argue that cone presentism is also not tenable, and that there is no way to reconcile either presentism or any recognizable descendant thereof with a relativistic conception of spacetime.

Graduate Seminar Series.
Date: Tuesday, 25 Mar 2014
Time: 3 pm – 4 pm
Venue: Philosophy Resource Room (AS3 #05-23)
Speaker: Jane Loo
Moderator: Elena Ziliotti

About the Speaker:

JANE_gradprofilepicJane’s main area of research is in the philosophy of space and time, with a focus on modern physics and its influence on traditional theories of time. Her other research interests include personal identity, and applied ethics.

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