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Time Travel and Consistency Constraints

Douglas N. Kutach
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 70, No. 5, Proceedings of the 2002 Biennial Meeting of The Philosophy of Science AssociationPart I: Contributed PapersEdited by Sandra D. Mitchell (December 2003), pp. 1098-1113
DOI: 10.1086/377392
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Page Count: 16
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Time Travel and Consistency Constraints
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The possibility of time travel, as permitted in General Relativity, is responsible for constraining physical fields beyond what laws of nature would otherwise require. In the special case where time travel is limited to a single object returning to the past and interacting with itself, consistency constraints can be avoided if the dynamics is continuous and the object's state space satisfies a certain topological requirement: that all null‐homotopic mappings from the state‐space to itself have some fixed point. Where consistency constraints do exist, no new physics is needed to enforce them. One needs only to accept certain global topological constraints as laws, something that is reasonable in any case.

Notes and References

This item contains 6 references.

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  • ['Earman, John (1995), Bangs, Crunches, Whimpers, and Shrieks: Singularities and Acausalities in Relativistic Spacetimes. New York: Oxford University Press.']
  • ['Lefschetz, Solomon (1937), “On the Fixed Point Formula”, Annals of Mathematics 38 (2): 819–822. Reprinted in S. Lefschetz, Selected Papers. New York: Chelsea (1971), 623–626.']
  • ['Maudlin, Tim (1990), “Time Travel and Topology”, in Arthur Fine, Micky Forbes, and Linda Wessels (eds.), PSA 1990, vol. 1. East Lansing, MI: Philosophy of Science Association, 303–315.']
  • ['Okhezin, V. P. (1995) “On the Fixed-Point Theory for Non‐Compact Maps and Spaces”, Topological Methods in Nonlinear Analysis 5: 83–100.']
  • ['Wheeler, J., and Feynman, R. (1949), “Classical Electrodynamics in Terms of Direct Interparticle Action”, Review of Modern Physics 21: 425–433.']