Matt Farr (Cambridge): “The C Theory of Time”

Does time have a direction? Intuitively, it does. After all, our experiences, our thoughts, even our scientific explanations of phenomena are time-directed: things evolve from earlier to later, and it would seem unnecessary and indeed odd to try to expunge such talk from our philosophical lexicon. Nevertheless, in this talk I will make the case for what I call the C theory of time: in short, the thesis that time does not have a direction. I will do so by making the theory as palatable as possible, and this will involve giving an account of why it is permissible and indeed useful to talk in time-directed terms, what role time-directed explanations play in science, and why neither of these should commit us to the claim that reality is fundamentally directed in time. On the positive side, I will make the case that the C theory’s deflationism about the direction of time offers a superior account of time asymmetries in physics than rival time-direction-realist accounts.

Matt Farr is a Teaching Associate in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge