Retrocausation and the Necessity of the Past

  • T. Chapman
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 159)


Virtually everyone allows that there is some sense in which the past is fixed, determined or necessary and the future open, the realm of possibilities or undetermined. This idea is not, however, easy to defend and elucidate philosophically. This and the following chapter are an attempt to do this. The phrase temporal asymmetry will refer to the difference between past and future and not to the fact that a temporal series has a serial order. (The latter is discussed in Chapter VII. Because of a controversy between Reichenbach and Grünbaum it is perhaps worth-while to remind the reader that the above view is not equivalent to the view that certain fundamental physical theories are indeterminist, i.e., it is not necessarily the case as Reichenbach once argued that the indeterminism of quantum mechanics entails that time is asymmetrical in the sense discussed here.)


Intentional Action Causal Explanation Causal Chain Causal Connection Signal Velocity 
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  1. 1.
    J. L. Mackie, “The Direction of Causation”, Philosophical Review, October, 1966, pp. 441–466, p. 459. See also Chapter 7 of his The Cement of the Universe, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Cf. M. Dummett, “Bringing About the Past”, Philosophical Review, July, 1964, pp. 338–359.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Cf. J. Hintikka, Knowledge and Belief, New York: Cornell University Press, 1962, esp. pp. 18–21. The idea is originally due to Wittgenstein.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    This idea is taken from Paul L. Csonka, “Advanced Effects in Particle Physics I”, The Physical Device, Vol. 180, Second Series, No. 4, 20 April 1969, pp. 1266–1281.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Chapman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of GuelphCanada

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