Time Travel and Self-Consistency - Implications for Determinism and the Human Condition by King – Book Report/Review Example

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The paper “ Time Travel and Self-Consistency - Implications for Determinism and the Human Condition by King» is a  persuasive variant on book review on philosophy. In time travel and self-consistency: implications for determinism and the human condition, King(1999) seeks to analyze Carlini et al observations that for spacetimes in which closed time-like curves (referred to as ‘ CTCs’ ) is possible, ‘ past and future are no longer “ globally” distinct’ (Carlini et al. , p. 3). He seeks to show that the possibility of travel into the past has some rather unexpected implications for the human condition – particularly with regard to the determinism/free-will debate (King, 1999).

He starts by looking at Carlini et al’ s starting point where they posed the question of whether the principle of self-consistency is really fundamental, or whether it can, in fact, be derived from some other law. (King, 1999) The problem is that they do not give a definition of self-consistency. The authors use the principle of minimum action to derive the only self-consistent trajectories. In regards to philosophy, if one was to go by Carlini et al then actions are determined and free will may never occur.

He begins his philosophical discussion by considering a cause-effect relationship. Should a person throw a stone at a window, the window will break. He compares human action to a nuclear decay where nuclear decay will occur and this occurrence is determined simply because it has happened and therefore occupies a fixed, unchangeable position in the time-stream, but is uncaused because no physical mechanism in our time-stream was responsible for that particular event of decay. (King, 1999) therefore if this decay was on a filmstrip, the cause will not be evident but all that will be evident is that the decay occurred.

In this regard, every human action is fixed on a film strip of time. Thus events would be determinate but uncaused. According to King (1999), we are then destined to experience the same events over and over. Vihvelin, K., 1996: 'What Time Travelers Cannot Do' Philosophical Studies, 81: 315-30.In What Time travelers cannot do, Vihvelin (1996) begins by looking at the objection to time travel where it is said to be metaphysically impossible.

She goes on to give evidence of this argument by saying that if a person was to go back in time to kill herself, it would not be possible as something will always happen to stop herself from killing her baby self. The fact that the time traveler is alive and can travel through time makes it impossible for her to kill her baby self. Therefore time travel is not possible. The counter-argument to this is that this person cannot kill her self because there is a pre-determined date on which that person will die.

This is the fatalist view who believes that if it is true that something will happen on a set date, such as a person dying, then it is metaphysically necessary for that event to occur at that specific time. Therefore killing oneself before that time is impossible. According to Vihvelin (1996), this view was a mistake because a person may not be able to do something due to some preset factors, not because it is fate.

Works Cited

King, D., (1999) Time Travel and Self-Consistency: Implications for Determinism and the Human Condition' Ratio, 12: 271-278. USA: Wiley Blackwell

Vihvelin, K., (1996), What Time Travelers Cannot Do Philosophical Studies, 81: 315-30. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Sider, T., (2002) Time Travel, Coincidences, and Counterfactuals Philosophical Studies, 110: 115-38. New York: Springer

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