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Let’s Flog the Anthropic Mare!

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

I just found this magnificent case of bad philosophy on Youtube. (Yes, I know! Who would’ve thunk it, eh?) While I would flatter myself unjustly were I to fancy myself a philosophical equivalent of the Bad Astronomer, (I wish!) my website is hardly about debunking bad philosophy. However, it is a guilty pleasure of mine because it gives me something to talk about. Especially when it’s a topic I’ve written about before.

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I have no idea (more…)

Spacetime Worms

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

Except for the occasional sceptic, we all believe that things persist through time (Loux, Readings, p. 321).

Endurantism and perdurantism are the views that temporal persistence of a thing is respectively explained either by its existing wholly and completely at different times or by its having three-dimensional parts at different times, which constitute a four-dimensional whole – or ‘spacetime worm.’ Since these two views usually arise from two different temporal ontologies, namely that of presentism – only the present exists – and eternalism – time is a dimension on par with the spatial dimensions – I shall treat endurantism and perdurantism as interchangeable with their intuitively corresponding ontologies.

Since I am torn on this issue rather than trying to convince the reader I shall devote this essay on an analysis of why perdurantism, which is the view to which I lean the most, appeals to me but why I am still hesitant to embrace it fully.

Scientific Considerations

I should be a perdurantist because I believe that GPS is reliable and that the universe is approximately 13.7 billion years old. The connection to persistence is not immediately obvious. However, both beliefs are reliant on Einstein’s theories of relativity. In his book, Parallel Worlds, Michio Kaku explains how crucial relativity is to the reliability of GPS.

Michio Kaku

…in order to guarantee such incredible accuracy, scientists must calculate slight corrections to Newton’s laws due to relativity, which states that radio waves will be slightly

shifted in frequency as satellites soar in outer space. In fact, if we foolishly discard the corrections due to relativity, then the GPS clocks will run faster each day by 40,000 billions of a second, and the entire system will become unreliable (p. 257).

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