Causation and Other Asymmetries in Time Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
Last Modified
  • March 22, 2019
  • Loew, Christian
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Philosophy
  • We tend to think that the past brings about, produces, or shapes the future but not vice versa. Yet, most candidates for the fundamental physical laws are time-symmetric: these laws determine the evolution of the world in the forward direction, but they equally determine its evolution in the backward direction. I argue that, in light of this lawful time-symmetry, causation itself is bi-directional, that is, causation runs forwards but it also runs backwards. This view might sound absurd, but it follows from taking fundamental physics seriously. I argue that causation is law-governed, and so the time-symmetry of the laws grounds causation in both temporal directions. Moreover, my bi-directional view of causation is compatible with our experience. In fact, it provides a deeper understanding than previously had of why we can control the future but not the past and why scientific explanations are time-asymmetric.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Paul, Laurie
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2013

This work has no parents.