Review of Peter Ludlow, Semantics, Tense, and Time [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Philosophy 98:325-329 (2001)
This is not your typical book about the A-theory/B-theory controversy in metaphysics. Peter Ludlow attempts something that few philosophers have tried in the last thirty years: he actually argues from linguistic premises for metaphysical conclusions. The relevant linguistic premises have to do with the nature of language, a general theory of semantics, the proper analysis of tense, and various technical theses involving the treatment of temporal indexicals and temporal anaphora. The metaphysical conclusions that Ludlow argues for from these linguistic premises are some of the main claims normally associated with the A-theory in the philosophy of time, namely, that tense is a genuine feature of the world – and that the instantiation of these properties does not somehow reduce to the instantiation of two-place, temporal relations like earlier than, simultaneous with, later than, etc.), that temporal becoming is intrinsic to all events, and that only the present is real. The overall plan of the book is as follows. First Ludlow spends four chapters defending a cluster of related claims about language and semantics in general and, in particular, the semantics for temporal indexicals and temporal anaphora. (Ludlow says that none of this material is original – he attributes most of it to Davidson, Chomsky, Evans, and Higginbotham – but it seems to me that a fair portion of what goes into this part of the book (including, especially
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