Relativity as Support for Presentism: A Modest Evidential Argument

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Nasmith, Benjamin B
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Presentism is roughly the view that only the present exists. This view requires an absolute simultaneity relation. The special theory of relativity, however, is highly successful and does not account for absolute simultaneity. This is widely regarded as an evidential threat to presentism. In what follows, I propose a modest evidential argument in support of presentism on the basis of the physical evidence itself. A weak relativity postulate is shown to follow from a weak light-speed postulate. The weak light-speed postulate, in turn, is shown to be more probable on presentism than on its main rival doctrine, eternalism. Specifically, when one accounts for possible worlds in which the space-time metric is Euclidean (+,+,+,+) rather than Lorentzian (-,+,+,+), the empirical evidence turns out to be more probable on presentism than on eternalism. If successful, this argument provides modest evidential support for presentism and against eternalism. However, the support is drawn from an unexpected source: the physical evidence itself.