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Birmingham workshop on probability and time travel

ERI Building, Room G51
Wednesday 27 May (10:00) - Thursday 28 May 2015 (17:17)

A two-day workshop hosted by the Department of Philosophy at the University of Birmingham


  • Sara Bernstein (Duke)
  • John Cusbert (Oxford)
  • Nikk Effingham (Birmingham)
  • Graeme A Forbes (Kent)
  • Daniel Nolan (ANU)
  • Stephanie Rennick (Glasgow)
  • Alastair Wilson (Birmingham)
  • Read abstracts


Wednesday 27 May

  • 10.00 – 10.30 – Coffee
  • 10.30 – 12.00 – Nikk Effingham (Birmingham): “Heterodox Ludovicianism”
  • 12.00 – 13.30 – Lunch 13.30 – 15.00 – John Cusbert (Oxford): “Causal loops and unstable chances”
  • 15.00 – 15.30 – Break
  • 15.30 – 17.00 – Daniel Nolan (ANU): “Time Travel, Self-Prediction and Rational Action, or, How To Win Money From Philosophers”
  • 17.00 – 18.00 – Drinks in Staff House
  • 18.30 – 22.00 – Dinner at Kababish, Moseley

Thursday 28 May

  • 09.00 – 10.30 – Alastair Wilson (Birmingham): “The Time-Travelling Interventionist”
  • 10.30 – 11.00 – Break
  • 11.00 – 12.30 – Stephanie Rennick (Glasgow): “Bilking the Future”
  • 12.30 – 13.30 – Lunch
  • 13.30 – 15.00 – Sara Bernstein (Duke): “Time Travel and the Movable Present”
  • 15.00 – 15.30 – Break
  • 15.30 – 17.00 – Graeme A Forbes (Kent): “Quantum Leap with a MOP”


John Cusbert: “Causal loops and unstable chances” 
Intuitively, objective chances are stable: if you repeat an experimental trial, then the chances of its various possible outcomes should stay the same. However, some time travel cases threaten instability, since duplicate setups can apparently yield different chances, if one of them is embedded in a causal loop. I’ll consider the nature and extent of this instability, and suggest a stability thesis that handles such cases.

Nikk Effingham: “Heterodox Ludovicianism” 
This paper criticises Lewis’s contextualist solution to the Grandfather Paradox on the grounds that Lewis does not take seriously the modality of impossibility. I then develop a variant contextualist response to the Paradox that looks more profitable.

Graeme A Forbes: “Quantum Leap with a MOP” 
I shall be developing Bernstein’s discussion of a Moveable Objective Present (MOP), and examining the role of chancy causation in two cases: 1) causing the objective present to move, and 2) the development of time after a discontinuous movement of the objective present.

Further information

All are welcome, but for catering purposes please confirm attendance to 14 May.

This workshop is supported by the New Agendas in the Study of Time project at the University of Sydney –– and is organized in association with MIMOSA –

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