Matt Farr

I'm a philosopher of science at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. I work on various philosophical problems concerning time, causation and explanation, particularly what it means for time to have a direction. I've previously held postdoctoral research fellowships at the University of Queensland's School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, and the University of Sydney's Centre for Time. I was awarded my PhD in Philosophy by the University of Bristol for my thesis Towards a C Theory of Time. You'll find links to non-paywalled versions of all my published articles on this page.
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 2021-2022 year at Cambridge I am running the following courses:
  • Reichenbach's The Direction of Time. + info
  • Evidence, Explanation and Models. (With Marta Halina) + info
  • Philosophy of Psychiatry. + info
  • The Metaphysics of Physics. + info
  • Space, Time & Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Physics. + info
  • Media

    A recent podcast in which I discuss my C-theory of time, and wider issues about the relationship between the physics, psychology, and linguistics of time.
    A talk from 2018 on the 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


    Research Articles

    • Forthcoming. Conventionalism about time direction
      Synthese + details
    • Forthcoming. Perceiving direction in directionless time.
      Understanding Human Time, ed. K. M. Jaszczolt. + details
    • Forthcoming. What's so special about initial conditions? Understanding the past hypothesis in directionless time.
      Rethinking the Concept of Laws of Nature, ed. Y. Ben-Menahem. + details
    • 2020. Causation and Time Reversal
      British Journal for the Philosophy of Science [preprint] + details
    • 2020. C-Theories of Time: On the adirectionality of time
      Philosophy Compass [preprint] + details
    • 2020. Explaining Temporal Qualia
      European Journal for Philosophy of Science [preprint] + details
    • 2020. Methods in Science and Metaphysics. [With M. Ivanova]
      Routledge Handbook of Metametaphysics, eds. R. Bliss & J.T.M. Miller. [link to book] + 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
    • 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 Reviews

      • 2021. Essay review of Yemima Ben-Menahem's Causation in Science
        Mind [preprint] + details
      • 2016. Review of Mathias Frisch’s Causal Reasoning in Physics
        British Journal for the Philosophy of Science [preprint] + details
      • 2015. Review of Tim Maudlin’s Philosophy of Physics: Space and Time
        Philosophy in Review [preprint] + details
        • 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


              • What is directionless time? + where & when

              Previous Talks

              • What's so special about initial conditions? + venues
              • Indeterminism and the C theory+ venues
              • Peceiving direction in directionless time. + venues
              • The C Theory of Time. + venues
              • Do we need to explain initial conditions? + 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