The Growing Block from Broad to Tooley – D.H. Mellor (Cambridge)
C. D. Broad offered his growing block theory as an alternative to McTaggart’s A-theory of the
direction of time. He and his successors, who do so too, must therefore link the direction in which
their blocks grow to those of time’s other ‘arrows’, and in particular, I argue, to that of causation.
One theory of causation that at first sight helps them to do this is that of J. L. Mackie’s 1974 The
Cement of the Universe, which takes events to become ‘fixed’ when they or their sufficient causes
become present. However, because Mackie’s theory makes some events fixed while they are still
future, it contradicts the basic premise of all growing block theories, namely that the present
precedes nothing. I turn therefore to an exposition of the most comprehensive and best-argued
causally-based growing block theory of recent years, that of Michael Tooley’s 1997 Time, Tense,
and Causation. After making the best case for his theory that I can, I conclude by sketching the
three main challenges I think his and other modern growing block theories still face: those posed by
modern physics, the indexicality of the present, and an analogue of McTaggart’s disproof of the
reality of his A series.
Full paper here.
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