Actually, I think you'll find the "time paradox" in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered isn't really a paradox

Descartes be serious.

In case you hadn't heard, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered has a pretty cool Time Paradox achievement / trophy.

Except it's not cool. It's not cool at all - because you've been hoodwinked. This isn't a time paradox at all, in fact it's actually not even close. Allow me to elaborate.

In the original Modern Warfare mission, you take on the role of Captain John Price, who must kill a gentleman known as Zakhaev with a long-range sniper rifle. Succesfully hitting him when you take the shot however will actually just take off his arm (regardless of where you aim) and trigger a series of events where Zakhaev's whisked away in a nearby jeep, whilst Price is suddenly facing down an attack helicopter and a fair bit of trouble.


I just want my degree to seem useful.

In Modern Warfare 3, meanwhile, you are at one stage presented with a flashback through the eyes of protaganist Yuri, where he and Modern Warfare 2 and 3 antagonist Vladimir Makarov were in fact the chaps who picked up the wounded Zakhaev and rode off into the sunset.

Back to Modern Warfare Remastered, and Makarov and Yuri have been retrospectively added into the game in the corresponding jeep. If you shoot Makarov as well as your target Zakhaev, you'll unlock the Time Paradox trophy / achievement.

The alleged paradox, then, comes from the fact that the events of Modern Warfare 2 and 3 would never have happened if you had shot Makarov with Price in Modern Warfare.

Yet this isn't a paradox, indeed it's a flagrant and highly irresponsible misuse of the term. A paradox, strictly speaking, is normally definied as a series of prepositions which, despite sounding reasonable, lead to a logical contradiction (a preposition simultaneously being true and false).

A famous example is the liar's paradox: "This statement is false." - if the statement were true, then it would be false, and vice versa. A more detailed version for those interested (which you obviously are) is one of the famous insolubilia, known as Buridan's Bridge:

  1. Socrates comes to a bridge guarded by Plato.
  2. On seeing him, Plato says: "Socrates, if in the first proposition which you utter, you speak the truth, I will permit you to cross. But surely, if you speak falsely, I shall throw you into the water."
  3. Socrates, the rapscallion, replies: "You will throw me into the water."

In order for the Call of Duty 'Time Paradox' to actually be a paradox, then, we would need to somehow create a contadiction of terms. Perhaps if Price were a time-traveller, transported back to the day of Yuri's flashback where he once only shot Zakhaev, with the mission of taking out Makarov too. That way, we would be faced with a paradox: Price can kill Makarov, because he has the weapons, the training, and expertise to do so. Yet Price cannot kill Makarov, because doing so would prevent the sequence of events from occuring which would cause him to be sent back in time on this mission in the first place.

However! Even if this were to be the case, would it be a paradox? Those familiar (which of course is all of us here) with 20th century philosopher David Lewis' seminal submission to the American Philosophical Quarterly in 1976, 'The Paradoxes of Time Travel', would note that this situation may not even be a paradox itself.

Lewis' particularly analogous example sees a man called Tim travel back in time to kill his not-very-nice grandfather. This isn't a paradox according to Lewis, however, because the statements "Tim can kill Grandfather" and "Tim cannot kill Grandfather", which seem to be a logical contradiction, are actually true relative to two distinct set of facts. He can in one context, he cannot in another.

To quote:

  • We must decide, if we can, whether to treat these personally past and externally future facts as if they were straightforwardly past or as if they were straightforwardly future.

And so we see that, actually, regardless of whether or not the effects of these fictional stories are affected by the actions of us non-fictional people living in a separate reality, the situation is at no point a paradox.

We probably won't ask Activision for comment.

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