Chapter

Temporal Asymmetry

Ian Hinckfuss

in The Existence of Space and Time

Published in print March 1975 | ISBN: 9780198245193
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680854 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198245193.003.0007
Temporal Asymmetry

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This chapter provides an investigation into the reasons, apart from the intuitions, for believing that the temporal dimension exhibits any asymmetry. It is specifically concerned with the theory that time is fundamentally asymmetrical in some sense that guarantees a profound difference between the past and the future. The chapter argues that even if the notions of ‘cause’ and ‘effect’ are stripped of their directional bias, there is no evidence to suggest that the resulting causal relation is always exemplified asymmetrically in time. It also claims that there is an important difference between knowledge of the past and knowledge of the future, but further argues that this difference is in no way indicative of a qualitative difference between the direction of time from earlier to later and the direction of time from later to earlier. The second law of thermodynamics is addressed. The local and accidental asymmetries within time are then outlined.

Keywords: temporal asymmetry; temporal dimension; directional bias; time; thermodynamics; local asymmetry; accidental asymmetry

Chapter.  9714 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Metaphysics

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