Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Time Travel, Life, and Death

In this post, I'd like to describe a rather typical time travel case in order to elicit views concerning whether a certain claim is true in the case. Having presented the case and asked the question, I will explain some of the reasons for my interest in whether that claim is true.

Time Travelling Tim: Tim Travell was born at t1 in a rural area in Connecticut. He lived a normal (non-time travelling) life until t20, when he came into possession of a time machine. Using this time machine, Tim travelled forward in time to t500. However, soon becoming bored of the futuristic lifestyle, at t502, Tim travelled back in time to t21 and lived out the rest of his life without ever again time travelling. He died at t90.

Assuming that no (non-time travelling) funny business (for instance, resurrection) happened in this case, the claim concerning which I'd like to elicit views is:
(T) At t501, Tim is dead.
So, what do you guys think? Is (T) true or false?

Now let me explain some of the reasons why I am interested in whether (T) is true or false. First, if (T) is true, then being alive and being dead are not (contrary to common opinion) contraries. For it is clearly true that at t501, Tim is alive. So, if (T) is true, then there is a time at which something is both alive and dead.

Second (but relatedly), if (T) is true, then certain analyses of being dead are false. For instance, consider the following proposed analysis:
Proposed Analysis of Being Dead (PABD): Necessarily, for all x, x is dead (at t) iff (i) x was alive (at some time earlier than t) and (ii) x is not alive (at t).
If (T) is true, then (PABD) is false. For if (PABD) is true, then (T) is not true (since Tim is alive at t501 and hence, according to (PABD), isn't dead then).

Anyway, what do you guys think?


Blogger Chris Tillman said...

My vote is that (T) is false.

8:00 PM  
Blogger rock* said...

Glad to finally get a vote! Anyone else have one?

(I guess I'll note that my vote is that (T) is true, for what it's worth.)

BTW, Chris: Is your vote based upon your intuitive judgment concerning the case or something else?

8:16 PM  
Blogger crashwhite said...

(T) is true in Future World, but false in Actual World.
On this view, time travel involves going to another
universe as in Wheeler's Many Worlds Hypothesis
in quantum mechanics. On the many worlds view,
time travel into the past is also possible. if I go
to the past and kill myself, then I am dead in that
world but still alive in this world.

7:43 AM  

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