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The Philosophy of Time

1. The Existence of the Past and Future

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about whether the past and future exist in any meaningful sense of the word, focusing in particular on the competing theories of Presentism (only present entities exist) and Eternalism (past, present and future entities all exist), before turning to two arguments which suggest that Eternalism rather than Presentism might best represent how things actually are.


In this course, Dr Nikk Effingham (University of Birmingham) explores the philosophy of time. We begin by thinking about whether only the present exists (Presentism) or whether the past and future also exist (Eternalism), focusing in particular on two arguments that suggest that Eternalism better represents how the world actually is. In the second module, we think about whether or time actually exists, focusing in particular on a famous argument by the philosopher G. E. M. McTaggart. In the third and fourth modules, we turn to the issue of how things persist through time, thinking first about the opposing theories of Perdurantism and Endurantism, and then about the problem of material constitution. In the final two modules, we think about the issue of time travel, thinking first about some of the apparent contradictions in time travel, such as the problem of bootstrapping, before asking in the sixth module whether it is possible to change the past.


Dr Nikk Effingham is senior lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Birmingham, specialising in metaphysics, philosophy of time (mainly time travel), philosophy of religion, and philosophy of epidemiology. His recent publications include An Introduction to Ontology (2013) and (co-authored with Helen Beebee and Philip Goff) Key Concepts in Metaphysics (2010).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Effingham, N. (2018, September 09). The Philosophy of Time - The Existence of the Past and Future [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Effingham, Nikk. "The Philosophy of Time – The Existence of the Past and Future." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 09 Sep 2018,