Matt Farr

I'm a lecturer and researcher in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. My work addresses philosophical problems concerning time and causation across the sciences, particularly what it means for time to have a direction. I have held postdoctoral research fellowships at the University of Queensland's School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry (2014-2017), and the University of Sydney's Centre for Time (2013-2014). I was awarded my PhD in Philosophy by the University of Bristol for my thesis Towards a C Theory of Time, supervised by James Ladyman and examined by Huw Price (Cambridge) and Alexander Bird (Bristol).
contact + cv google scholar philpapers twitter


Stuff happens. It’s hard to think of a more general description of reality. We picture the universe as some set of processes that start in some state and evolve to some other state, and this idea of an evolving, time directed universe acts as a backdrop for any story we can give of how things happen in the world and why things are the way they are. And yet this mode of describing reality, as a grand time-directed system, is at best a heuristic metaphor, and at worst a fundamentally misleading representation of the world that distorts our understanding of the world. Or so my work argues...  + read more about my current research


At Cambridge I am available to supervise Philosophy and HPS Part II dissertations and HPSM MPhil essays in the following areas: philosophy of physics; metaphysics of science; scientific explanation; realism and antirealism; laws of nature; time; causation.

In the 2019-2020 year at Cambridge I am running the following courses:
  • Reichenbach's The Direction of Time. + info
  • Realism & Reduction. (With Tim Lewens & Agnes Bolinska)+ info
  • Theory, Evidence and Explanation. (With Riana Betzler) + info
  • Space, Time & Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Physics. + info
  • The Metaphysics of Physics. + info
  • Media

    A talk from 2018 on my C theory of time at the London School of Economics.


    My Erdös number is 5: Erdös→Anderson→Binmore→Paternotte→Ivanova→Me.

    Had I been less interested in counterfactuals, I'd probably make my living as a drummer.

    I'm happily married to this fellow philosopher, and spend most of my time figuring how to keep our little one entertained.
       + latest news


    Journal Articles

    • In press. C-Theories of Time: On the adirectionality of time
      Philosophy Compass + details
    • 2020. Causation and Time Reversal
      British Journal for the Philosophy of Science [preprint] + details
    • 2020. Explaining Temporal Qualia
      European Journal for Philosophy of Science [preprint] + details
    • 2016. Review of Mathias Frisch’s Causal Reasoning in Physics
      British Journal for the Philosophy of Science [preprint] + details
    • 2015. Conventional Principles in Science: On the foundations and development of the relativized a priori [With M. Ivanova]
      Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics [preprint] + details
    • 2015. Temporal Experience, Temporal Passage and the Cognitive Sciences [With S. Baron, J. Cusbert, M. Kon & K. Miller]
      Philosophy Compass + details
    • 2015. Review of Tim Maudlin’s Philosophy of Physics: Space and Time
      Philosophy in Review [preprint] + details
    • 2013. A Relic of a Bygone Age? Causation, Time Symmetry and the Directionality Argument [With A. Reutlinger]
      Erkenntnis [preprint] + details
    • 2012. On A- and B-Theoretic Elements of Branching Spacetimes
      Synthese [preprint] + details
      • Book Chapters

      • 2020. Methods in Science and Metaphysics. [With M. Ivanova]
        In Routledge Handbook of Metametaphysics, ed. Ricki Bliss & J.T.M. Miller. [link to book] + abstract
        • Popular Articles

            Edited Volumes

          • 2015. Conventional Principles in Science: On the foundations and development of the relativized a priori [With M. Ivanova]
            Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics + details
            • PhD Thesis

            • 2013. Towards a C Theory of Time: An Appraisal of the Physics and Metaphysics of Time Direction. University of Bristol. + details
            • Talks



              Previous Talks

              • The C Theory of Time. + venues
              • Do we need to explain initial conditions? + venues
              • Indeterminism and the C theory+ venues
              • Why the passage of time is not an illusion + venues
              • Explaining Temporal Qualia. + venues
              • Causation and Time Reversal. + venues
              • Causal Realism in Physics. + venues
              • Causality and Retrodiction in Quantum Mechanics. + venues
              • 'Initial' Conditions and the Direction of Time. + venues
              • Time: Inside and Out. + venues
              • Supertemporal Ontology and the 'Triviality' Problem. + venues
              • Explaining Time and Time Explaining. + venues
              • Does time have a direction? + venues
              • Difference-Making and the Direction of Time. + venues
              • Non-Reductive Naturalism about Time Direction? + venues
              • On Some Problems with A- and B-Theoretic Models of Branching Spacetime. + venues
              • Towards a C Theory of Time. + venues
            Site written in HTML/CSS/JS, incorporating some ideas + code from Roberts > Schupbach > Beall > Sider.
            Matt Farr | Cambridge | HPS