SOPhiA 2022

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

"Wittgensteinian Quietism": A Quietist Cure for Philosophers of Time
(Philosophy of Science, English)

Whether time is tensed or tenseless is a vexed question since McTaggart (1908) has posited his famous distinction between the A(tensed)-theory and the B(tenseless)-theory of time. In light of that and developments in modern physics, philosophers of time have formulated a crucial dichotomy: the scientific and the manifest image of time. The former is tenseless. The latter is tensed. In the literature, philosophers are split into two factions: whereas some seek to recover a typical tensed time in physical theories, others avoid these attempts because physics is not hospitable for tensed theories. The resulting debate is inconclusive: according to tensers, time is tensed in relativity, quantum mechanics (e.g., Lucas 1998), and also, quantum gravity (e.g., Monton 2005). According to anti-tensers, time is tenseless in the same theories (e.g., Callender 2008). Thus, one question arises: who is right?

In this paper, I argue that philosophers suffer from an illness that raises the anxiety of settling this debate. In a quietist spirit, I consider Rovelli (2021)'s insight as a cure for philosophers of time: time is not a monolithic but a multilayered concept. More specifically, the anxiety, and therefore the debate, rests on a wrong assumption: the demand to take one notion of time, appropriate and valid in its context, and state that it represents the ultimate nature of time is a fatal mistake. Once unveiling the confusion, I illustrate that there is no solution to the problem because it must not be raised: since time is a multilayered concept, it makes no sense to force interpretations of physical theories to find a good ground for a tensed theory and to say that tensed theories are false in physics__ framework. Time is a concept with different facets that have their meaning within a precise context. Applying a notion of time to different contexts is a conceptual confusion that leads to pseudo-problems.

Chair: Maren Bräutigam
Time: 16:00-16:30, 07 September 2022 (Wednesday)
Location: SR 1.004
Remark: (Online Talk)

Luca Gasparinetti 
(University of Padua, Italy)

Testability and Meaning deco