A relational view of time.
Access changed 12/15/21.
This dissertation is a defense of an Aristotelian, relational view of time. The Aristotelian holds that there are both fundamental and derivative entities. The relationalist maintains that time is not one of the fundamental entities but instead depends on, and is derived from, fundamental entities that change. In chapter one I discuss what, exactly, a view of time must take a stance on in order to be complete. This discussion results in a taxonomy for different views of time. With this taxonomy in mind, I give a selective survey to the history of the philosophy of time, paying particular attention to the views of Aristotle and Leibniz, of which my view is a successor. In chapter two I lay the groundwork of an Aristotelian ontology. In particular, I discuss how certain kinds of entities are grounded by fundamental entities. This plays a key role in motivating the claim that times are derivative entities. Chapter three is an exposition of common challenges and objections to relationalism. In this chapter we see how contemporary views of physics have factored into the debates in the philosophy of time. The answer to these challenges and objections comes in chapter four, in which I offer my view of time. While my view is a descendant of those of Aristotle and Leibniz, I make use of A.N. Prior's work on world states to state my view. After presenting my view, I answer the challenges and objections from chapter three and place my view within the taxonomy presented in chapter one. The final two chapters address views that are competitors to mine, considering first kindred versions of relationalism, and then arguing against substantialism, the view that time (or spacetime) is a fundamental entity. Substantivalism is the main rival to relationalism, and it comes in several forms. After arguing that not all versions of substantivalism are equal, I make my case against the most plausible form of substantivalism, which says that the only fundamental entity is spacetime.