The Impact of the Special Theory of Relativity on the Philosophy of Time
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The special theory of relativity influences the philosophy of time in important, yet at first sight contrasting ways, as this chapter shows: it undermines a global past-present-future distinction, but at the same time preserves an asymmetric relation between earlier and later events which are causally connectable. On the basis of the first point, arguments towards a universal determinism have been made by Wim Rietdijk and Hilary Putnam, but the criticism advanced in particular by Howard Stein shows that these arguments fail. It is then discussed which options, if any, there are for carving up spacetime into determinate or “fixed” versus indeterminate or “open” regions. Finally, it is shown that special relativity’s characteristic light-cone structure is linked to relatively macroscopic objects, or “endurers” in philosophical jargon.