- 1) How effective is McTaggart’s argument that there is no time? If you think that it is ineffective, what is wrong with the argument? Is it incorrect to think that genuine change requires an A-series? How could there be genuine change in a pure B-series given that it is just a static structure? Is it incorrect to think that the A-series is incoherent? If so, what is wrong with McTaggart’s attempt to show that it is incoherent? If you think that McTaggart’s argument is effective, how would you respond to the various claims we have explored suggesting that it is ineffective? Also, why does it seem like there is time if, in fact, there isn’t?
- 2) People have made some gestures towards explaining our experience of the passage of time if time were a pure B-series (e.g. by pointing out that our memories of recent happenings are more vivid than our memories of those more distant.) But, do these explanations really satisfy? Do they really explain why it seems to us that time passes rather than just explain our sensation that parts of the past are nearer to this time than other parts? Can a pure B-theorist explain our experience at all? Suppose one adopts a dynamic theory of time according to which time really does pass. How would that explain our experience of the passage of time? Wouldn’t it require some odd awareness of time, itself, and not just of the material contents of time? Or, alternatively, wouldn’t it require that our mental states depend not just upon the state of our brain, but upon the state of our brain and time itself? In short, is there any theory of time that can adequately explain our experience of the passage of time?
- 3) Historically, various issues were intertwined by people like Leibniz (the paradigm relationist) and Newton (the paradigm substantivalist). For example, the question of whether space is a substance with independent existence is (at least apparently) a different question from whether there is absolute motion (velocity) or whether all motion (velocity) is merely relative. (One can see this when one thinks about Galilean space-time and notes that one could think of it in a substantivalist way even though it does not support the existence of absolute velocity.) Why is it natural to run these two questions together? Or, if it is not natural, what would make it natural? It is more or less clear why a relationist would not believe in absolute motion (velocity) but why would a substantivalist believe in it? Is there anything in the notion that space has properties independent of its material contents that suggests that motion will be absolute? Are there any other questions
that get run together in the debate? And, what leads to those questions being run together?
- 4) In the first part of the course we looked at several views which posit that there is a unique present (e.g. dynamic presentism and the growing block view). How does Einstein’s theory of special relativity challenge these doctrines? Are they devastated by the challenge or can they be modified so as preserve their core ideas but not run afoul of scientific theory? If they are not devastated, in what form do they survive? (Another thing to think about is whether Einstein’s theory also requires a modification of the pure B-theory.)