, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 763-769
Date: 25 May 2012

The Causal Efficiency of the Passage of Time

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Abstract

Does mere passage of time have causal powers? Are properties like “being n days past” causally efficient? A pervasive intuition among metaphysicians seems to be that they don’t. Events and/or objects change, and they cause or are caused by other events and/or objects; but one does not see how just the mere passage of time could cause any difference in the world. In this paper, I shall discuss a case where it seems that mere passage of time does have causal powers: Sydney Shoemaker’s (1969) possible world where temporal vacua (allegedly) take place. I shall argue that Shoemaker’s thought-experiment doesn’t really aim at teaching us that there can be time without change, but rather that if such a scenario is plausible at all (as I think it is) it provides us with good reasons to think that mere passage of time can be directly causally efficient.