McTaggart's Paradox  book cover
1st Edition

McTaggart's Paradox

ISBN 9781138677241
Published July 5, 2016 by Routledge
168 Pages

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Book Description

McTaggart’s argument for the unreality of time, first published in 1908, set the agenda for 20th-century philosophy of time. Yet there is very little agreement on what it actually says—nobody agrees with the conclusion, but still everybody finds something important in it. This book presents the first critical overview of the last century of debate on what is popularly called "McTaggart’s Paradox". Scholars have long assumed that McTaggart’s argument stands alone and does not rely on any contentious ontological principles. The author demonstrates that these assumptions are incorrect—McTaggart himself explicitly claimed his argument to be dependent on the ontological principles that form the basis of his idealist metaphysics. The result is that scholars have proceeded to understand the argument on the basis of their own metaphysical assumptions, duly arriving at very different interpretations. This book offers an alternative reading of McTaggart’s argument, and at the same time explains why other commentators arrive at their mutually incompatible interpretations. It will be of interest to students and scholars with an interest in the philosophy of time and other areas of contemporary metaphysics.

Table of Contents


1. Introduction

2. The Metaphysics

3. The Argument

4. The C Series

5. The Defences

6. The Objections

7. The B View and the Problem of Change

8. The A View and the Problem of Tense

9. The Conclusion

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R. D. Ingthorsson is a Lecturer at Lund University, Sweden. He has published in The European Journal of Philosophy, Dialectica, Metaphysica, and Axiomathes, and co-edited the celebrated Mental Causation and Ontology. His next project is "Scientific Essentialism: Modernising the Aristotelian View", funded by The Bank of Sweden Tercentenial Foundation.


"The book . . . is truly an excellent piece of both philosophy and scholarship: argumentative and rigorous, informative and thought provoking. It is also superbly written, exhibiting exceptional clarity, concision, and flow. It is in all respects a first rate contribution. Anybody interested in McTaggart, the philosophy of time, or metaphysics will reap tremendous rewards from engaging with Ingthorsson's ideas; do give them a go."Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"Ingthorsson’s valuable book is a focused study of the paradox, which offers an insight into McTaggart’s overall metaphysical system and discusses a range of responses to the paradox . . . [This] is a valuable and well-researched addition to the literature on McTaggart’s infamous argument, and scholars interested in the paradox will benefit from careful study of it."David Ingram in Review of Metaphysics

"For anyone who wants to get to grips with the major threads of thought that developed in response to McTaggart, this is an invaluable resource . . . The book is a rich source of argumentation and discussion of a number of core issues in the philosophy of time, and for that reason is well worth a read."Kristie Miller in Phenomenological Reviews

"This book is, to date, clearly the most comprehensive and critical overview of the debate on McTaggart’s paradox."Michelle Beer, Florida International University, USA