Matt Farr

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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).


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


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.


A recent talk 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


Journal Articles

  • Forth. Explaining Temporal Qualia
    European Journal for the Philosophy of Science + details
  • 2018. 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
    • Book Chapters

    • Forthcoming. Methods in Science and Metaphysics. [With M. Ivanova]
      Commissioned for Routledge Handbook of Metametaphysics, ed. James Miller and Ricki Bliss. Abstract
      • 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



            • Indeterminism and the C theory+ where & when
            • Why the passage of time is not an illusion + where & when

            Previous Talks

            • Do we need to explain initial conditions? + venues
            • The C Theory of Time. + 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


            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.
          Site written in HTML/CSS/JS, incorporating some ideas + code from Roberts > Schupbach > Beall > Sider.

          Matt Farr | Cambridge | HPS