Relativity and the Growing Block – Oliver Pooley (Oxford)
Pooley investigates two problems that stand in the way of reconciling relativistic spacetime and the growing block. The first problem concerns the status of simultaneity and the present. A metaphysics of time that does not introduce a preferred simultaneity relation can claim to be more thoroughly relativistic than one that does. A B-theoretic “block universe” model of time can clearly be relativistic in this sense. In other work I have argued that a shrinking tree model that embraces relativism (in Kit Fine’s sense) is also appropriately relativistic. Can an attractive Growing Block view be fashioned along similar lines? I will argue that it cannot.
The second problem concerns the interpretation of spatiotemporal relations that hold of events within the Growing Block. Suppose, as many have, that a global present and a metaphysically preferred simultaneity relation are compatible with letter of relativity. One might then seek to argue that relativistic Growing Block models merely require that the physics and spacetime structure of the ever growing block obeys relativistic laws (Earman). However, the natural interpretation of such models leaves the view of time vulnerable to the “How does I know that it’s Now now?” objection of Bourne and Braddon-Mitchell. A promising response to this objection defends a Growing Block view that is a close cousin of permanentist presentism (e.g., Correia and Rosencrantz). On this view, the (spatio)temporal structure of the “block” is to be given an reductive analysis in terms of primitive tense. I will explore what would seem to be obvious difficulties with recovering relativistic spatiotemporal relations along these lines.
In investigating both these problems, I will seek to make contact with and illuminate some recent proposals by physicists seeking to reconcile relativity and the Growing Block (Ellis, Dowker, Sorkin).
Full paper here.
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