Ontological Presentism and Logical Presentism

Abstract
When pondering the relation of existence to time one often finds oneself with intriguing intuitions expressed with slogans such as ‘Only the present really exists’, ‘Present entities are more real than past or future entities’, and ‘The future is yet to be; the past is no more’. When we express these intuitions, we don’t seem to be saying, in a straightforward way, that past objects such as a recently popped soap bubble are merely no longer present. Instead, we seem to be voicing some philosophically important view regarding how existence and time are related. The view is presentism, but the slogans only vaguely suggest some view; they do not, by themselves, adequately express it. I will argue that there are two philosophically important kinds of presentism, ontological and logical. Roughly put, ontological presentism is the claim that there is an objective ontological distinction between present and non-present entities: whereas a spatial change from here to there does not mark an ontological distinction, a temporal change from now to then does mark an ontological distinction. Waiving subtleties, logical presentism is the claim that we never quantify over past or future entities. On the face of it, the two theses seem pretty different. One concerns existence; the other, logic. I think we have failed to make significant progress in evaluating presentism because we have failed to carefully distinguish the two theses. In this essay I clarify, distinguish, and evaluate them.
Keywords presentism  existence  quantification  disconnected times  relativity  cross-temporal relations  ontology
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