Relativity Theory and the Tenseless View of Time

Yuval Dolev
Department of Philosophy Bar-Ilan University


The central thesis of this paper is that, contrary to a view still widely held, relativity theory does not force on us the Tenseless View of Time. The main arguments put forth on this issue are critically assessed, and are shown to presuppose a tenseless language and to, therefore, be circular. I also discuss Howard Stein's well known objection to these arguments, and argue that his approach shares the metaphysical presuppositions that make the view he criticizes unacceptable. Analyzing the positions of both adherents and critics of the tenseless view allows me to lay out what I think is the correct way of conceiving time and tense in a relativistic framework, and to show that relativity theory coheres with our familiar distinction between past, present and future.