Philosophical Studies

, Volume 156, Issue 2, pp 231–247 | Cite as

Inconsistency in the A-Theory

  • Nicholas J. J. Smith


This paper presents a new argument against A-theories of time. A-theorists hold that there is an objective now (present moment) and an objective flow of time, the latter constituted by the movement of the objective now through time. A-theorists therefore want to draw different pictures of reality—showing the objective now in different positions—depending upon the time at which the picture is drawn. In this paper it is argued that the times at which the different pictures are drawn may be taken to be normal times or hypertimes. If they are normal times then the A-theory is inconsistent, or else collapses to the B-theory—and appealing to primitive tense operators will not help A-theorists avoid this conclusion. If the times are hypertimes then the A-theory is consistent, but deeply problematic none the less.


Time A-theory B-theory Flow Passage Becoming McTaggart 



Thanks to John Cusbert, Huw Price, David Braddon-Mitchell, Kristie Miller and an audience at the Centre for Time at the University of Sydney on 30 April 2007 for helpful comments and discussions. Thanks to the Australian Research Council for research support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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