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Is Time Travel Too Strange to Be Possible? - Determinism and Indeterminism on Closed Timelike Curves

Mulder, Ruward A. and Dieks, Dennis (2017) Is Time Travel Too Strange to Be Possible? - Determinism and Indeterminism on Closed Timelike Curves. Determinism and Indeterminism on Closed Timelike Curves. pp. 93-114.

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Abstract

Notoriously, the Einstein equations of general relativity have solutions in which closed timelike curves (CTCs) occur. On these curves time loops back onto itself, which has
exotic consequences: for example, traveling back into one's own past becomes possible. However, in order to make time travel stories consistent constraints have to be satisfied,
which prevents seemingly ordinary and plausible processes from occurring. This, and several other "unphysical" features, have motivated many authors to exclude solutions
with CTCs from consideration, e.g. by conjecturing a chronology protection law. In this contribution we shall investigate the nature of one particular class of exotic
consequences of CTCs, namely those involving unexpected cases of indeterminism or determinism. Indeterminism arises even against the backdrop of the usual deterministic
physical theories when CTCs do not cross spacelike hypersurfaces outside of a limited CTC-region|such hypersurfaces fail to be Cauchy surfaces. We shall compare this CTC-indeterminism with four other types of indeterminism that have been discussed in the philosophy of physics literature: quantum indeterminism, the indeterminism of the hole argument, non-uniqueness of solutions of differential equations (as in Norton's dome) and
lack of predictability due to insuffcient data. By contrast, a certain kind of determinism appears to arise when an indeterministic theory is applied on a CTC: things cannot be different from what they already were. Again we shall make comparisons, this time with other cases of determination in physics. We shall argue that on further consideration both this indeterminism and determinism on CTCs turn out to possess analogues in other, familiar areas of physics. CTC-
indeterminism is close to the epistemological indeterminism we know from statistical physics, while the "fixedness" typical of CTC-determinism is pervasive in physics. CTC-
determinism and CTC-indeterminism therefore do not provide incontrovertible grounds for rejecting CTCs as conceptually inadmissible.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Mulder, Ruward A.R.A.Mulder@uu.nl
Dieks, Dennisd.dieks@uu.nl
Keywords: Closed Timelike Curves, Grandfather Paradox, Time Travel, Determinism, Indeterminism, Determination, Free will, Retro-causation
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
General Issues > Determinism/Indeterminism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Depositing User: Mr. Ruward A. Mulder
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2019 02:00
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2019 02:00
Item ID: 15873
Journal or Publication Title: Determinism and Indeterminism on Closed Timelike Curves
Publisher: Minkowski Institute
Official URL: http://www.minkowskiinstitute.org/mip/books/2016co...
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
General Issues > Determinism/Indeterminism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Date: 2017
Page Range: pp. 93-114
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/15873

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