From Timeless Physical Theories to Timelessness
This paper addresses the extent to which both Julian Barbour‘s Machian formulation of general relativity and his interpretation of canonical quantum gravity can be called timeless. We differentiate two types of timelessness in Barbour‘s (1994a, 1994b and 1999c). We argue that Barbour‘s metaphysical contention that ours is a timeless world is crucially lacking an account of the essential features of time—an account of what features our world would need to have if it were to count as being one in which there is time. We attempt to provide such an account through considerations of both the representation of time in physical theory and in orthodox metaphysical analyses. We subsequently argue that Barbour‘s claim of timelessness is dubious with respect to his Machian formulation of general relativity but warranted with respect to his interpretation of canonical quantum gravity. We conclude by discussing the extent to which we should be concerned by the implications of Barbour‘s view.
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