Finding 'Real' Time in Quantum Mechanics

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Callender, Craig
preprint description
Many believe that quantum mechanics makes the world hospitable to the tensed theory of time. Quantum mechanics is said to rescue the significance of the present moment, the mutability of the future and possibly even the whoosh of time’s flow. It allegedly does so in two different ways: by making a preferred foliation of spacetime into space and time scientifically respectable, and by wavefunction collapse injecting temporal ‘becoming’ into the world. The aim of this paper is to show that the reasoning underlying these claims is wishful thinking. Against the first claim I develop what I call the “coordination problem” for tensers. The upshot of this problem is that if tensers escape the threat of relativity, they do so only by embracing conflict with the branch of physics they believed saved them, quantum mechanics. I then step back from the fray and examine some methodological issues, concluding that scientific methodology will always be “against” tenses as they are currently conceived. The Appendix deals with the confused tangle of issues linking wavefunction collapse to an open future.