Edited by Sam Baron (University of Western Australia)
Assistant editor: James Darcy (University of Otago)
|Summary||Temporal ontology is home to two central issues in the philosophy of time. The first issue concerns the ontological status of the past, present and future. The debate here is between liberal accounts of temporal ontology, according to which past, present and future entities all exist and conservative accounts of temporal ontology, which deny that past, present and future entities all exist. Liberal approaches to temporal ontology are typically called eternalist views about time, and are contrasted with the most severe form of conservativeness about temporal ontology: presentism, according to which only present entities exist. The second broad issue in the category of temporal ontology concerns the relationship between the future and agency. If, as eternalists maintain, the future exists, then arguably all of the facts about the future are already setltled. But if the facts about the future are already settled, then the future is closed. If, however, the future is closed, then it would seem that there is nothing we can do now to alter what is going to happen. The central issue facing eternalism from agency then is how to avoid descending into fatalism.|
|Key works||The locus classicus for contemporary presentism is Bigelow 1996. Bourne 2006 is a book-length defense of presentism, which is a must-read on the topic. Putnam 1967 presents the chief motivation for eternalism, namely that it is implied by the special theory of relativity, an issue that comes to the fore in Dieks 2006. Mellor 1998 is an important exposition and defense of an eternalist model of time, whereas Tooley 2000 is an attempt to develop a middle-ground position between presentism and eternalism, according to which the past and present exist but the future does not. Anscombe 1956 is a crucial paper on Aristotlean arguments in favour of fatalism, and Barnes & Cameron 2009 and Barnes & Cameron 2011 represent the state of the art on temporal ontology and fatalism. Markosian 1995 forges a link between the open future and indeterminism about the laws of nature. Determinism about the laws of nature is usefully discussed in Churchland 1981 and Unger 1977.|
|Introductions||Encyclopedia articles include Markosian 2010, Rice 2008, Hoefer 2008 and Le Poidevin 2008.|
Growing Block Views (43)
The Open Future (132)
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