B-coming: Time's Passage in the B-theory Blockworld

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Leininger, Lisa
Frisch, Mathias
I defend what is routinely held to be an incompatible combination of views: the idea that time passes and the idea that the universe is a four-dimensional manifold without an objective present. Almost all philosophers of time think that A-theory, in which there is a privileged universe-wide plane of simultaneous events identified as the common "NOW," is the only theory able to preserve our fundamental experience of time's passage. B-theorists hold that the Special Theory of Relativity implies that the universe is a four-dimensional manifold without a NOW, and as a result, passage must be merely an illusion. It seems we have a choice: reject the relativistic universe or accept passage as an illusion. I hold that we do not need to make this choice, and show instead how time can pass in this B-theory blockworld. I first argue that the passage of time cannot be understood as the change or shift of the NOW, and then develop and defend an alternative account of the passage of time based on the notion of B-coming, which is a relation between spacetime points defined in terms of the light cone structure of relativistic spacetime. In this way, I make room for passage in the B-theory blockworld.