Matt Farr

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I'm a philosopher specialising on the metaphysics and epistemology of time and causation. I'm currently a Teaching Associate in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. I have previously 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). In 2013, I was awarded a PhD in Philosophy by the University of Bristol for my thesis Towards a C Theory of Time, which was written under the supervision of James Ladyman and examined by Huw Price (Cambridge) and Alexander Bird (Bristol). I have been a research member of the projects New Agendas for the Study of Time (Sydney, 2013-2014) and The Causal Power of Information in a Quantum World (Queensland, 2014-2017).


Does time have a direction? One might think the answer is 'obviously'. However, the combination of the ubiquity and obscurity of the idea of reality as being some kind of time directed process makes the issue ripe for philosophical analysis. My research is geared at addressing a cluster of interrelated philosophical problems concerning the directionality of time, such as causation, scientific explanation, and our concept of personhood over time. I employ an empirically-based methodology, incorporating emerging research in psychology and physics into philosophical debates about time and causation, applying philosophical methods to foundational problems in psychology and physics, and examining the relationship between science and metaphysics more generally.  + read more about my current research


In the 2017-2018 year at Cambridge I ran the following courses:
  • Reichenbach's The Direction of Time. + info
  • Philosophy of Physics. + info
  • Metaphysics of Physics. + info
  • Realism & Reduction. (With Agnes Bolinska)+ info
  • Theory, Laws and Evidence. (With Anna Alexandrova) + info

  • At the University of Queensland (2014-2017) I coordinated the following courses:
  • 2015. Advanced Topics in Metaphysics: Time and Causation + info
  • 2014. Advanced Topics in Metaphysics: What is Time? + info

  • Try here for older courses.

    Current Activity

    Life comes at you fast. 2018 is a year for finalising my first monograph — The Time-Directed Universe: A Defence of the C Theory of Time —, and a series of related papers promoting and defending this theory of time. More importantly, 2018 sees us raising our first baby. You're most likely to find me intermittently touring the UK promoting the book, or else resting/recovering in Cambridge.


    Stay tuned for some planned philosophy events in the UK. Here's some info on previous conference and workshops I've organised. In 2015 I coorganised the conference Causality in a Quantum World with my colleague Pete Evans on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. I have previously organised/co-organised the following conferences: Free Will and Retrocausality in a Quantum World at Trinity College, Cambridge; Time Symmetry: A Unified Approach at the University of Sydney; The Present State of Presentism at the University of Bristol; and Conventional Principles in Science, Bristol. From 2013-2014, I ran the Sydney Foundations of Physics seminar series.


    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

    • 2017. Causation and Time Reversal
      British Journal for the Philosophy of Science + details
    • 2016. Review of Mathias Frisch’s Causal Reasoning in Physics
      British Journal for the Philosophy of Science + 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 + 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 + details
    • 2013. A Relic of a Bygone Age? Causation, Time Symmetry and the Directionality Argument [With A. Reutlinger]
      Erkenntnis + details
    • 2012. On A- and B-Theoretic Elements of Branching Spacetimes
      Synthese + details
      • 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
          • Other things

            Works in Progress


            • Explaining Temporal Qualia. + abstract
            • Temporal Ontology in Perspective. + abstract
            • Pre-entanglement shows that individual quantum systems do not possess states (with D. Miller). + abstract
            • Causality and Quantum Mechanics (with D. Miller).

            Coming soon...

          • The Time Directed Universe: A Defence of the C Theory of Time. [Monograph]
          • The C Theory of Time.
          • Perceiving Backwards Causation.
          • The Past Hypothesis needs no causal explanation.
          • What is the Problem of Quantum Causation? (With Sally Shrapnel.)
          • The Metaphysics of Multi-Fingered Time. (With Karim Thébault.)
          • Talks


            Previous Talks

            • Explaining Temporal Qualia. + venues
            • Causation and Time Reversal. + venues
            • The C Theory of Time. + 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
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          Matt Farr | Cambridge | HPS