Putnam on Time and Special Relativity: A Long Journey from Ontology to Ethics

1.: In this paper I discuss Putnam’s view on time and the special theory of relativity. I first locate Putnam’s philosophical approach within a more general framework, essentially making reference to Sellar’s distinction between the scientific image and the manifest image of the world. I then reconstruct Putnam’s argument in favour of the reality of the future and the determinateness of truth-value for future tense sentences by showing that it is based on three premises that generate a contradiction. In the second part of the paper I discuss Putnam’s argument both by using later results belonging to the foundations of STR and quantum mechanics, and by invoking some conceptual analysis on the pseudo-predicate “is real”. Since I will show that the presentists/eternalists debate is ill-founded if regarded as ontological, I will conclude that it boils down to our different practical attitudes towards past, present and future
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