Time Travel and the Movable Present

In John Christopher Adorno (ed.), Being, Freedom, and Method: Themes from the Philosophy of Peter van Inwagen. pp. 80-94 (2017)
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Abstract

In "Changing the Past" (2010), Peter van Inwagen argues that a time traveler can change the past without paradox in a growing block universe. After erasing the portion of past existence that generates paradox, a new, non-paradox-generating block can be "grown" after the temporal relocation of the time traveler. I articulate and explore the underlying mechanism of Van Inwagen's model: the time traveler's control over the location of the objective present. Van Inwagen's model is aimed at preventing paradox by changing the past, but it achieves something broader than paradox avoidance: it gives tools for a new model of time travel. I use van Inwagen's tools to develop a new kind of time travel in which in which the location of the objective present is shifted by the time traveler. I call this type of time travel Movable Objective Present, or MOP. After defining MOP, I argue that it is compatible with any theory of time that accepts hypertime, including presentism and moving spotlight theory.

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Sara Bernstein
University of Notre Dame

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