Time Travel's Conundrum

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The puzzle surrounding the idea of time travel, which states that humans have the ability to change the past and future in some way, has divided many philosophers. Other perspectives, on the other hand, assert that neither can be changed and that one can only live in the present. Time travel is possible, according to American philosopher David Lewis, and cannot be regarded as an impossibility, as many of his explanations have been recounted in science fiction (Lewis, 1975). The idea of traveling back in time and killing one's grandfather out of rage is perhaps the most important concept in understanding time travel. While Lewis argues that it is possible to travel into the past and kill or otherwise not killing Grandfather, I find the argument of not killing Grandfather plausible because even though it is conceivable to travel back in time, it is not probable to change the past.

It is first important to emphasize that according to Lewis, regardless of whether one kill’s their grandfather or not, time travel is a possibility. The discrepancy that exists is whether one is looking at the issue from the perspective of a time traveler or literally as a journey traveler who is using personal time. In the former case, it would mean that instead of spending the same amount of time that one is trying to recount, they would spend less because they do not have to pass through all the prevailing forces of nature that a journey traveler would face (Lewis, 1975). I believe in Lewis’ stand on the possibility of traveling back in time because it tends to be comparable to the case of a sleep or coma. When one wakes up, those who were alert all along will consider time difference based on their personal time factors and are likely to quote, say twelve hours, while the person waking up will consider it as a split in time. I believe it is the same case for time travel because one does not have to undergo the forces of nature to reach the past.

However, the controversy arises when one has to consider themselves in the past and trying to change it. Based on Tim’s story of building a time machine to face an enemy in the past it is noted that he finds himself with everything that he needs to kill Grandfather. The first premise is that Lewis presents is that time Tim has what it takes to kill Grandfather. Therefore, the conclusion from the above premise is that if Tim has what it takes, then he can kill Grandfather. The conclusion is that because he has what it takes, Tim kills Grandfather. Lewis believes that the above argument above is valid from the sense that given that time has a good rifle, has taken time practicing his murderous intention and is close to grandfather, he would kill Grandfather in the process just as anyone else would at that point. In fact, Lewis quotes the chance that because another sniper, Tom, who is not a time traveler, is experiencing similarly favorable conditions and can kill his target, so can, Tim.

On the contrary. Lewis also factors the possibility that despite the conditions at stake and having traveled using the time machine to kill Grandfather, there is a chance that the execution would not take place. According to Lewis, the reason for not killing grandfather would be because has to consider both the original and the present time factors. The original, in this case, involves the childhood, many years before Tim’s birth when Grandfather lived while the new scenario is that created through time travel where Tim is in ambush desperately waiting to kill Grandfather. According to Lewis, doing so would need the philosopher to confer two things so that if Grandfather would have to die in the ambush setting, then he also has to be killed in the original setting. If Tim did not kill Grandfather in the original, Lewis argues, he would not kill grandfather in the new setting.

Considering both arguments, I find the second argument is compelling because while it is possible to design a time travel machine, it is unlikely that it would provide for changing the past. I think that it is possible that back lack could be a consequence of trying to change the past is that even in the case of Tom and Tim one would succeed while another, Tim, would not holding everything else including experience at shooting, type of rifle used, and the physical conditions. It holds true, therefore, that the idea of picturing Tim missing the target makes sense because it is not possible to change the past. It would mean that some abrupt noise or failing of the nerve would cause him to miss because he has to kill Grandfather in both time dispositions. Thus, the missing would mean that forces of nature cannot allow contradiction.


Lewis, D. (1975). The paradoxes of time travel. Princeton University. Retrieved from http://www.csus.edu/indiv/m/merlinos/paradoxes of time travel.pdf

August 09, 2021

Philosophy Science



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Time Time Travel

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