The Dennes Room

Event Detail

Wed Dec 3, 2008
234 Moses Hall, 6–8 PM
Working Group in the History and Philosophy of Logic, Mathematics, and Science
Craig Callender (UCSD)
What Makes Time Special

What is the difference between time and space? This paper proposes a novel answer: the temporal direction is that direction on the manifold of events in which our best theories can tell the strongest, most informative “stories.” Put another way, time is that direction in which our theories can obtain as much determinism as possible. I make two arguments. The first is a general one based on an empiricist theory of laws. I argue that according to this theory time is distinguished as the direction of informative strength. The second argument is a more specific illustration of the first: understanding ‘strength’ as having a well-posed Cauchy problem, I show that for a wide class of equations the desire for strength does indeed distinguish the temporal direction. Not only that, but the argument rigorously connects three otherwise mysterious connections among temporal features to one another. The paper then explores the ramifications of this theory for various problems in the philosophy of time.