The philosopher versus the physicist: Susan Stebbing on Eddington and the passage of time

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 30 (1):130-151 (2021)
  Copy   BIBTEX


In this paper, I provide the first in-depth discussion of Susan Stebbing’s views concerning our experience of the passage of time – a key issue for many metaphysicians writing in the first half of the twentieth century. I focus on Stebbing’s claims about the passage of time in Philosophy and the Physicists and her disagreement with Arthur Eddington over how best to account for that experience. I show that Stebbing’s concern is that any attempt to provide a scientific account of the passage of time will face problems, since the events described by physics are necessarily measured against the passage of time. I then identify views elsewhere in her philosophical corpus that can help shed light on this claim. Ultimately, I argue, Stebbing’s views on time should be construed as part of her wider commitment to ‘realism’. To be a realist, for Stebbing, is to accept a set of propositions which are a pre-requisite for even beginning to analyse the world around us. For Stebbing, I argue, part of what it means to be a realist is to accept our experience of the passage of time as something fundamental that cannot itself be subject to analysis.

Author's Profile

Peter West
Northeastern University London


Added to PP

80 (#79,703)

6 months
61 (#48,042)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?