Imagine that you are called Bob (B), and that you have a loved one called Alice (A). You would both like to touch each other across SpaceTime. How might this happen (or have happened) (or will happen) or not? (With or without the use of a relativistic wormhole). Such a theme is presented, in the form of a conundrum, by Cody Gilmore, who is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at University of California, Davis campus. The professor simplifies the scenario thus :
“I introduce a puzzle about contact and de re temporal predication in relativistic spacetime. In particular, I describe an apparent counterexample to the following principle, roughly stated: if B is never in a position to say ‘I was touching A, I am touching A, and I will be touching A’, then (time travel aside) A is never in a position to say ‘I was touching B, I am touching B, and I will be touching B’. In the case I present, the most that A is ever in a position to say is: ‘I am now touching B, but this is the only instant at which this will ever be so’. B, on the other hand, can say: ‘I was formerly touching A, I am currently touching A, and I will in the future be touching A’. (And neither object is a time traveler.)”
The professor’s paper ‘Keep in Touch’ (in the journal Philosophia Naturalis 49(1) · May 2012) examines many of the ramifications of this enigmatic proposition across eighteen pages or so of highly complex logical and philosophical analysis. But, at the end of the day, does such a puzzle end up raising more questions than it answers? Maybe, as the professor explains:
“My goal here has been not been to settle on any particular solution, but only to raise the puzzle and to argue that the most tempting responses to it are more problematic than they initially appear to be.”
If you enjoyed reading ‘Keep in Touch’ you may also like another new paper from the professor: ‘Quasi-Supplementation, Plenitudinous Coincidentalism, and Gunk’ in Robert Garcia, ed., Substance: New Essays (Philosophia Verlag).