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Barnes, Elizabeth, , Ross Cameron. Back to the Open Future
2011, Philosophical Perspectives 25(1): 1-26.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by:

Abstract: Many of us are tempted by the thought that the future is open, whereas the past is not. The future might unfold one way, or it might unfold another; but the past, having occurred, is now settled. In previous work we presented an account of what openness consists in: roughly, that the openness of the future is a matter of it being metaphysically indeterminate how things will turn out to be. We were previously concerned merely with presenting the view and exploring its consequences; we did not attempt to argue for it over rival accounts. That is what we will aim to do in this paper.

Comment: This could be set as a further reading, with the authors’ ‘The Open Future: Bivalence, Determinism, and Ontology’ as a core.

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Barnes, Elizabeth, , Ross Cameron. The Open Future: Bivalence, Determinism, and Ontology
2009, Philosophical Studies 146(2): 291-309.
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Abstract: In this paper we aim to disentangle the thesis that the future is open from theses that often get associated or even conflated with it. In particular, we argue that the open future thesis is compatible with both the unrestricted principle of bivalence and determinism with respect to the laws of nature. We also argue that whether or not the future (and indeed the past) is open has no consequences as to the existence of (past and) future ontology.

Comment: This text might seem to be advanced because of the many issues it handles, but it’s written so clearly that I think it could (if taught in detail as a core text) be suitable for an intermediate metaphysics class. In particular, the class could be split into three groups, with each group tasked with researching one of bivalence, determinism and eternalism, and explaining i) how they are alleged to conflict with the open future, and ii) how Barnes and Cameron argue that they aren’t in fact in conflict with the thesis that the future is open.

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Haslanger, Sally, , . Persistence Through Time
2003, In Michael J. Loux & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics. Oxford University Press, 315-354.
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Introduction: Things change: objects come into existence, last for a while, go out of existence, move through space, change their parts, change their qualities, change in their relations to things. All this would seem to be uncontroversial. But philosophical attention to any of these phenomena can generate perplexity and has resulted in a number of long-standing puzzles. One of the most famous puzzles about change threatens to demonstrate that nothing can persist through time, that all existence is momentary at best. Let’s use the term ‘alteration’ for the sort of change that occurs when a persisting object changes its properties.

Comment: A good overview of the philosophical issues involved in persistence through time. Would be a good preliminary material in a philosophy of time course. Or, since this is a fundamental philosophical problem, could be used in an introduction to philosophy course as a more clear alternative or supplement to ancient sources.

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Miller, Kristie, , . Backwards Causation, Time, and the Open Future
2008, Metaphysica 9(2): 173-191.
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Abstract: Here are some intuitions we have about the nature of space and time. There is something fundamentally different about the past, present, and future. What is definitive of the past is that the past events are fixed. What is definitive of the future is that future events are not fixed. What is definitive of the present is that it marks the objective ontological border between the past and the future and, by doing so, instantiates a particularly salient phenomenological property of nowness. Call the combination of these intuitions according to which there exists an objective present, a fixed past, and an open future, the intuitive view. I argue that, given the intuitive view, the possibility of backwards causation – and hence, for instance, backwards time travel – is problematic.

Comment: A nice paper to use near the start of a Philosophy of Time course, or in a Metaphysics course before introducing backwards causation and time travel. This is because it gives a good motivation of the ‘common sense’ view, so it could be good to get clear on this and what it can entail.

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Miller, Kristie, , . Time Travel and the Open Future
2005, Disputatio 19(1): 223-232.
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Abstract: In this paper, I argue that the thesis that time travel is logically possible, is inconsistent with the necessary truth of any of the usual ‘open future objective present’ models of the universe. It has been relatively uncontroversial until recently to hold that presentism is inconsistent with the possibility of time travel. I argue that recent arguments to the contrary do not show that presentism is consistent with time travel. Moreover, the necessary truth of other open future-objective present models which we might, prima facie, have supposed to be more amenable to the possibility of time travel, turn out also to be inconsistent with this possibility.

Comment: A nice, short paper that could be a good bridge between teaching Metaphysics of Time and Metaphysics of Time Travel. It would be good to have already taught A-theory vs B Theory first, as well as specific versions of the A theory (although the paper does also give a good overview of some of these).

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Thomson, Judith Jarvis, , . McTaggart on Time
2001, Noûs 35(s15): 229-252.
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Introduction: McTaggart’s argument for the conclusion that time does not exist is notoriously hard to understand. C. D. Broad says that when properly interpreted, its main part can be seen to be “a philosophical ‘howler’.”  Others see things in it that they regard as true and important, or if not true, then anyway important. But I have not seen any interpretation of it that seems to me to get it exactly right. And I think that it pays to get it right: there are lessons to be learned from consideration of what goes on in it. By way of reminder, McTaggart’s argument has two parts. The first part aims at the conclusion that time does not exist unless the A series exists. The second part aims at the conclusion that the A series does not exist. It follows that time does not exist

Comment: One of the clearest statements of McTaggart’s argument about time; the interpretation is well-argued for. Very helpful as an aid to comprehension if McTaggart’s argument is taught, as it usually would be in any examination of philosophy of time.

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