No announcement yet.

Would B theory allow for an infinite past, against the argument from succ addition?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Would B theory allow for an infinite past, against the argument from succ addition?

    For the sake of argument, let's ignore the question of whether an actual infinity is possible. Let us focus on the second philosophical argument that Kalaam defenders, such as Craig, often present for the idea that time/the universe had a beginning.

    The basic idea is that we cannot form an actually infinite collection of temporal events by successive addition, but the temporal series of events IS formed by successive addition. Recent work in Grim Reaper paradoxes by Koons and Pruss have made the first part even stronger than it was before. But now, could anyone appeal to B theory to escape this argument? I don't think so, as we should still have a succession of states in B theory. For quite some time I've thought about how the Kalaam argument might be defended even in B theory, and it has always struck me that this argument cannot be affected by a change from A theory to B. How could anyone deny that, before us, there was a succession of temporal states? Whether or not they tenselessly exist, they still exist in the "earlier than" direction, and each follows the other in succession. But no actual infinity can be formed like that. The same paradoxes of Bonaventure's angel counting from eternity would apply to the tenseless series.

    The argument is also similar to Kant's first antinomy about time. I don't think a difference between tensed or tenseless theories is of help here, but if that's the case, then the universe must have had a beginning.

  • #2
    On skimming this, I remembered some interesting comments Brandon made on Ed's blog a while ago; and, on pulling them up (here, here, here, here, here, and so on down the comment stream), I see he was replying to a very familiar poster. I'll link them anyway. I think they're an interesting articulation of how a presentist might reply to this kind of argument.

    (​​​​​​Note to Administrator: we could use a decent "grin" emoji.)