time travel paper #2

time travel paper #2 - The idea of being able to travel in...

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The idea of being able to travel in time brings to mind a great number of notions about the actions one could possible take. Could one prevent some horrific event that took place in their lives by warning their former self? Could one visit his or her parents in their high school years? Would it be possible for an individual to give his former self a record of future race horse winnings in order to make himself wealthy? These sorts of questions have puzzled philosophers about the logical possibility of time travel. Some deny the logical possibility of time travel by recognizing contradictions in the potential situations implied by time travel. One of the more prominent and well-known objections to the possibility of time travel is that time travel implies a necessary discrepancy in the temporal gap between two events. Donald Williams conveys this discrepancy as follows, “[time travel requires the contradiction] that five minutes from now…I may be one hundred years from now.” Put in modus tollens, the argument against time travel would be as follows: - If time travel were to occur, the same event would have two different positions in the time series. - No event can have two different positions in the time series. - Therefore, time travel cannot occur. However, I argue that this apparent discrepancy does not rule out the possibility of time travel. While this argument is valid, it is not necessarily sound; a number of arguments can be made to illustrate the falsehood of the premises. Specifically, the first premise can discounted by conceptualizing time as having two dimensions; the second premise can be discounted by the implications of special relativity. By describing time as a two-dimensional entity, time travel would not require one event having two different positions in the time series. The statement Williams makes that time travel would require an individual to be one hundred years from now in five minutes from now is really just a necessary description for locating a particular single position in time. There is in fact no discrepancy in the temporal gap between the
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departure and arrival of a time traveler. To better understand these circumstances, consider a representation of time in which every moment in the present has its own distinct past. The past associated with each moment has the possibility of being different from the past associated with other moments. If one considers time in this two- dimensional fashion, then every point in the past would have two times associated with it. In order to completely describe the position of an event in the past, one must identify the two times corresponding to that event. Complete description of an event’s position would require identifying not only the position of the event in the past, but also which present moment that past corresponds to. Consider an analogy in which a coordinate system is used to describe a unit’s location in a two-dimensional field; take for example the game Battleship.
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