The Spring 2017 Philosophy Colloquium Series presents Alison Fernandes, University of Pittsburgh. The title of her talk is "Casual Asymmetry And The Trouble With Time Travel." (Abstract below.)
Friday, Feb 24, 2017, 3-5pm, Maloney Seminar Room, Social Sciences 224.
"Casual Asymmetry And The Trouble With Time Travel"
We ordinarily evaluate counterfactuals by holding the past fixed, and keeping the future open. The cake’s being eaten may counterfactually depend on your decision to eat it—but its being there in the first place doesn’t. We also standardly hold the distant present fixed. The state of your neighbor’s basement right now doesn’t depend on what you’re simultaneously doing in the kitchen. Metaphysicians have attempted to maintain these criteria, even in cases of backwards time travel. I’ll argue that we need more temporally neutral methods. The past and present shouldn’t be held fixed, because backwards time travel requires backwards counterfactual dependence, which allows both the past and distant present to change. Parts of the future should be held fixed, because they’re in the causal history of the past, and agents have evidential access to them independently of their decisions now. We need more temporally neutral methods not only to say the right things about cases of backwards time travel, but also if we’re to explain the temporal asymmetry of causation in the actual world.