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Time in Fiction$
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Craig Bourne and Emily Caddick Bourne

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199675319

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199675319.001.0001

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Time Travel

Time Travel

(p.117) 8 Time Travel
Time in Fiction

Craig Bourne

Emily Caddick Bourne

Oxford University Press

What counts as time travel and whether it is possible is discussed. The difficulties in establishing that genuine time travel has been represented by a fiction are shown. Whilst it leaves open whether time travel to the past is itself possible, the chapter shows how someone who takes it to be impossible can nevertheless accommodate such stories within the book’s possible-worlds framework. Discussion then focuses on Back to the Future (1985, dir. R. Zemeckis), showing how to explain it in terms of possible worlds despite its seeming to involve an impossibility, namely changing the past. To show how the film creates an appearance of certain events being genuinely explained by the past having been changed, the argument draws on ideas from Chapter 7 concerning the status of fictional hypotheses and fictional explanations, and supplements this with an account of how audience members reason with counterfactuals.

Keywords:   time travel, Back to the Future, changing the past, fictional explanation, counterfactual

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