The Relationist and Substantivalist Theories of Time: Foes or Friends?

European Journal of Philosophy 19 (4):491-506 (2010)
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Abstract: There are two traditionally rival views about the nature of time: substantivalism that takes time to be a substance that exists independently of events located in it, and relationism that takes time to be constructed out of events. In this paper, first, I want to make some progress with respect to the debate between these two views, and I do this mainly by examining the strategies they use to face the possibilities of ‘empty time’ and ‘time without change’. As we shall see, the two allegedly very different rival views are much less different than has been thought: their structure is extremely similar, their strategies are extremely similar, and they can both face the possibilities of ‘empty time’ and ‘time without change’ in the same way. Thus, I argue in favour of a certain kind of equivalence between the two views; I discuss a Strong and a Weak version of this claim; and I provide reasons for endorsing the former. I also discuss the parallel between this pair of views about the nature of time and another analogous pair of views: the bundle theory and the substratum theory about the nature of material objects, with respect to the problem with Identity of Indiscernibles

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Jiri Benovsky
University of Fribourg


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