Dr Alex Kaiserman, ‘How to Change the Past (and Live to Tell the Tale)’

Balliol College, Oxford

May 19, 2020

Dr Alex Kaiserman is Fairfax Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at Balliol College. This video was delivered as part of an online lecture on 19 May 2020. There are many reasons to want to travel to the past – see the dinosaurs, talk to Jesus, find out what the Voynich manuscript was really all about. But ask most people what they’d do with a time machine and they’ll tell you not just of their hopes of seeing the past, but also of changing it – of killing baby Hitler, warning previous generations of impending environmental disasters, maybe thinking twice before sending that passive-aggressive email to Kevin in marketing yesterday. Are such hopes really coherent? Is it possible to change the past? In this lecture, Dr Kaiserman discusses the paradoxes that are supposed to arise from time-travel stories, and different philosophical approaches to resolving them.

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