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Objective Becoming by Bradford Skow

Reading Group - A.A. 2016-2016 - II Semester



Title: Objective Becoming by Bradford Skow
Conveners: Nick Young, Cristian Mariani (Contact: nickyoung1@gmail.com, mariani_cristian@yahoo.it)

Confirmed participants:
Giuliano Torrengo (Unimi): Hasan Amiri Ara (Visiting Student); Dave Ingram (Unimi); Samuele Iaquinto (Unimi); Enrico Cinti (Unimi); …



«Does time pass? This book takes up this central question of metaphysics and defends the “block
universe” theory of time, often said to be a theory according to which time does not pass. Since this
can be a misleading thing to say a distinction is drawn between “anemic” passage of time and
“robust” passage of time; the thesis of the book is that there is no robust passage of time, or
“objective becoming.” There are in-depth discussions of alternative theories of time, some of which
are theories of robust passage: presentism, the moving spotlight theory of time, the growing block
theory of time, and the “branching time” theory of time. Chapters 2 through 5 argue that the moving
spotlight theory is the best of these. Chapters 6 argues, contra McTaggart and many others, that the
moving spotlight theory is consistent, and Chapter 7 argues that it has no trouble saying how fast
time passes. Chapters 8 and 9 show how the moving spotlight theory may be made consistent with
the special theory of relativity. Chapter 10 discusses whether sense can be made of the idea that we
move through time. Finally, Chapters 11 and 12 take up the question whether our “experience of the
passage of time” constitutes evidence that favors the moving spotlight theory over the block
universe theory of time. Three different arguments from temporal experience are isolated and
discussed separately; all are found to fail.»

The first meeting will be on Thursday the 16th of February from 14.00–16.30.

All subsequent meetings will be on Wednesdays from 10.30–13.00. Please make sure you have read the chapters before each meeting.
14.00–16.30, Thursday 16th February
Chapter 1: Introduction: Time Passes?
Chapter 2:The Block Universe
Chapter 3: What Might Robust Passage Be?
10.30–13.00, Wednesday 22nd February
Chapter 4: The Moving Spotlight
Chapter 5: Growing Blocks and Branching Times
10.30–13.00, Wednesday 1st March
Chapter 6: The Moving Spotlight Theory Is Consistent
Chapter 7: How Fast Does Time Pass?
10.30–13.00, Wednesday 8th March
Chapter 8: The Challenge From Relativity
Chapter 9: Relativity And The Passage of Time
Chapter 10: Can We Move Through time?
10.30–13.00, Wednesday 15th March
Chapter 11: Passage and Experience, I
Chapter 12: Passage and Experience, II
Chapter 13: Concluding Thoughts: Passage and Time-biased Preferences



Bradford Skow (2015), Objective Becoming, OUP

17 February 2017
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