The Possibility of Discrete Time

Jean Paul Van Bendegem

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Time

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199298204
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191728372 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

The Possibility of Discrete Time

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Philosophy of Science
  • Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic


Show Summary Details


This chapter examines the possibility of discrete time. At first sight, the answer seems trivial, but actually, it raises a number of interesting questions, both philosophical and scientific. First, the chapter explains what interpretations of discrete time are not considered. Then, it addresses two key philosophical problems: if there are such things as chronons, smallest “bits” of time, do they have extensions and can a distance function, that is, a duration, be defined on them? Second, the chapter discusses the relation between discrete time and discrete space, showing that the former implies the latter. Thus, with applications in mind, both time and space are to be seen as discrete. This leads, third, to the hardest problem of all: whether discrete time is applicable in physical theories.

Keywords: discrete time; chronons; distance function; discrete space; physical theory

Article.  10074 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.