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No Presentism in Quantum Gravity



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No Presentism in Quantum Gravity Christian Wu thrich Abstract This essay offers a reaction to the recent resurgence of presentism in the philosophy of time What is of particular interest in this renaissance is that a number of recent arguments supporting presentism are crafted in an untypically naturalistic vein breathing new life into a metaphysics of time with a bad track record of cohabitation with modern physics Against this trend the present essay argues that the pressure on presentism exerted by special relativity and its core lesson of Lorentz symmetry cannot easily be shirked A categorization of presentist responses to this pressure is offered As a case in point I analyze a recent argument by Monton Presentism and quantum gravity 263 280 2006 presenting a case for the compatibility of presentism with quantum gravity Monton claims that this compatibility arises because there are quantum theories of gravity that use fixed foliations of spacetime and that such fixed foliations provide a natural home for a metaphysically robust notion of the present A careful analysis leaves Monton s argument wanting In sum the prospects of presentism to be alleviated from the stress applied by fundamental physics are faint 1 Introduction Presentism is the position in the philosophy of time that maintains that nothing exists that is not present In other words only present events and objects exist but no past or future events or objects do Furthermore it usually assumes that there is a succession of presents i e a moving Now Although logically independent from the thesis that defines the position most presentists thus take change or becoming to be a fundamental aspect of reality Bradley Monton 2006 264 has appropriately dubbed the package of presentism cum becoming Heraclitean presentism In logical space as he rightly notes there could also be a presentist metaphysics which holds that the spatially extended sum total of existence is completely static in that fundamentally it does



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