Matias Slavov: "Causal Asymmetry without Absolute Time"

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Matias Slavov: "Causal Asymmetry without Absolute Time" 

Hume thinks there is no sensory evidence for time itself and its uniform flow from past to future. Nevertheless, he argues for the temporal priority of causes over their effects. Such time-asymmetry requires a fixed relation of earlier and later. It seems there is an inconsistency involved. If there is no absolute time, what is the objective ground of temporal order? I will show that Hume’s philosophy of time does not entail a contradiction. To that end, I compare his views to subsequent developments in the metaphysics of time. I argue that Hume’s position is compatible with the B-series of time and the ramifications of special relativity. The B-theory provides an explanation for immutable before-after relations. This is consistent with timelike separation of events in special relativity. Accordingly, Hume’s argument for one-directional causation—sole or proper causes always begin before their effects—can be maintained without a reference to absolute substantial time.

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Jani Hakkarainen (jani.hakkarainen@tuni.fi)