Artefacts from tomorrow: Future dilemmas of the parahistorian

Alasdair Richmond*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In 1987, Roy Sorensen coined the term “parahistory” to denote the hypothetical study of evidence retrieved via time travel. Parahistory would thus stand to history rather as parapsychology does to psychology; studying data (in this case artefacts) that are obtained in ways unrecognised by orthodox science. This paper considers future-derived parahistorical artefacts. Past/future asymmetries threaten irresolvable problems in calibrating future objects' periods, in dating future artefacts and insulating them from causal loops. In turn, causal loop objects at best cannot be non-arbitrarily dated at all and at worst, cannot even be artefacts. Even if there can be evidence for travel from the future, any such evidence that appeals to future artefacts faces pervasive difficulties and is very unlikely to be compelling.

Original languageEnglish
JournalRatio: An international journal of analytic philosophy
Early online date22 Apr 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Apr 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • David Lewis
  • evidence
  • Roy Sorensen
  • time travel


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