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The impossibility of time travel.

Ripley, Matthew Lincoln; (1995) The impossibility of time travel. Masters thesis (M.Phil), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The aim of this thesis is to prove that time travel is impossible. The discussion, which is divided into four parts, is introduced with a history and a definition of the notion of time travel. Included in the introduction will be a discussion of some initial objections to the possibility of time travel. Part Two will introduce and discuss the problem of changing the past; if the past is changed then there is a contradiction: something both was and was not the case. I will discuss some attempts to counter this problem, concentrating on the theories of Lewis, Harrison and Horwich. The conclusion to Part Two will be that none of these attempts are successful thus the problem remains. In Part Three there will be a discussion of what I term "strange loops." These are the strange, though not blatantly contradictory or paradoxical, implications of time travel. Part Three is not intended to provide a refutation of the possibility of time travel, rather to expose it as being a possibility which contains incoherence. The final part of the thesis will discuss the paradoxes of time travel, specifically "autofanticide" (which is returning to the past and killing your younger self). I will state the common solution to this paradox, which I term the "thwarting coincidence" view. Following this I will argue that the thwarting coincidence view does not remove the paradox and thus time travel is impossible. In the final section of Part Four I will discuss Horwich's argument for the possibility of time travel to the "spatially distant past." This argument is supposed to remove the possibility of paradox from the possibility of time travel. However I will show that Horwich's argument is mistaken and does not remove the possibility of paradox. Therefore time travel, even to the spatially distant past, is impossible.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Qualification: M.Phil
Title: The impossibility of time travel.
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Philosophy, religion and theology; Time travel
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10104320
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