top of page


Time in Fiction


What can we learn from engaging with fictional time series? What should we make of stories involving time travellers who change the past, recurrence of a single day, foreknowledge of the future, the freezing or rewinding of time, or time series which split into alternative courses of events? Do they show us radical alternative possibilities concerning the nature of time, or do they show that even the impossible can be represented in fiction? Neither, so our book argues. Defending the view that a fiction represents a single possible world, we show how apparent representations of radically different time series can be explained in terms of how worlds are represented without there being any fictional world which has such a time series. In this way, the book uses the complexities of fictional time to get to the core of the relation between truth in fiction and possibility. It provides a logic and metaphysics to deal with the fact that fictions can leave certain features of their fictional worlds indefinite, and draws comparisons and connections between fictional and scientific representations and hypotheses. Utilising the notion of a counterpart, we show how to understand claims concerning persistence of characters and their identity across fictions, and what it means for a fiction to be ‘set’ at an actual time. Consideration is given to motion in fiction, asking whether it is sometimes continuous and sometimes discrete, how to understand different rates of change, and whether fictional time itself can be said to flow.


Oxford University Press, February 2016.

288 Pages


ISBN: 9780199675319


A Future for Presentism


Presentism, the view that only the present exists, was a much-neglected position in the philosophy of time for a number of years. Recently, however, it has been enjoying a renaissance among philosophers. A Future for Presentism is meant as a timely contribution to this fast growing and exciting debate.


After discussing rival positions in the philosophy of time, in Part I: The Presentist Manifesto, Craig Bourne shows how presentism is the only viable alternative to the tenseless theory of time. He then develops a distinctive version of presentism that avoids the mistakes of the past, and which sets up the framework for solving problems traditionally associated with the position, such as what makes past-tensed statements true, how to give the proper semantics for statements about the future, how to deal with transtemporal relations, how we can meaningfully talk about past individuals, and how causation can be accommodated. Part I concludes with a discussion of the direction of time and causation, the decision-theoretic problem known as 'Newcomb's problem', and the possibility of time travel and causal loops. In Part II: Presentism and Relativity, Bourne focuses on the problems for presentism raised by relativity theory. He begins by giving a self-contained exposition of the concepts of special relativity that are important for understanding the later discussion of its philosophical implications. The last two chapters explore the philosophical implications of certain cosmological models that arise from general relativity, namely the expanding models, which seem to represent our universe, and Gödel's infamous model, which allows us to take a journey into our future and arrive in our past. The necessary physics is explained with the aid of diagrams, throughout.



ISBN-10: 0-19-921280-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-19-921280-4
Publication date: December 2006


ISBN-13: 978-0-19-956821-5

Publication date: June 2009


Oxford: Clarendon Press
264 pages, 216x138 mm

Time in Fiction




1. Theories of Fiction


2. Theories of Time and Tense

3. Fictional Time—A-Series or B-Series?

4. The Fictional Future


5. Branching Fictional Time?

6. Pausing and Rewinding Fictional Time?

7. Recurring Fictional Time?

8. Time Travel

9. Fictional Duration and Motion: Discrete or Continuous?


10. Identity and Development of Characters and Fictions

11. Identity of Fictional Times


12. True to a Story vs True in a Fiction

13. Indefiniteness and its Logic

14. Incomplete Time Series

bottom of page