David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Philosophia 38 (2):243-255 (2010)
Philosophers have responded to McTaggart’s famous argument for the unreality of time in a variety of ways. Some of those responses are not easy to evaluate, since they involve, for example, sometimes murky questions concerning whether a certain infinite regress is or is not vicious. In this paper I set out a response that has not, I think, been advanced by any other author, and which, if successful, is absolutely clear-cut. The basic idea is simply that a tensed approach to time can avoid McTaggart’s contradiction, and can also avoid any regress, vicious or otherwise, by specifying the times at which events have different tensed properties in a tenseless fashion — namely, by using dates. This answer to McTaggart’s argument is, however, open to four important objections. The first objection is that my answer to the second part of McTaggart’s argument is incompatible with something that McTaggart takes himself to have proved in the first part of his argument — the claim, namely, that “there can be no change unless some propositions are sometimes true and sometimes false.” The second objection is that the sentences that I claim can be used to specify when an event has a given tensed property do not in fact do so, since they turn out to be purely tenseless sentences. The third objection is that the sentences in question make use of tenseless verbs, and that it is not in fact possible to make sense of such verbs. The fourth and final objection is that it is not really possible to specify, in tenseless terms, when an event has a given tensed property, since dates have to be analyzed using the relation of temporal priority, and that relation, in turn, must be analyzed in terms of the tensed properties of pastness, presentness and futurity, so that the purportedly tenseless specification is implicitly tensed. I argue, however, that none of these four objections can be sustained.
|Keywords||McTaggart McTaggart’s argument Unreality of time Tensed propositions Tensed propositions and temporal indexicals Tensed propositions involving dates Growing block view of time|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Michael Dummett (1960). A Defense of Mctaggart's Proof of the Unreality of Time. Philosophical Review 69 (4):497-504.
Antony Flew (1956). Essays in Conceptual Analysis. New York, St. Martin's Press.
J. Ellis McTaggart (1908). The Unreality of Time. Mind 17 (68):457-474.
D. H. Mellor (1981). Real Time. Cambridge University Press.
Citations of this work BETA
L. Nathan Oaklander (2010). Mctaggart's Paradox and Crisp's Presentism. Philosophia 38 (2):229-241.
Similar books and articles
Cheng-Chih Tsai (2011). A Token-Based Semantic Analysis of McTaggart's Paradox. Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations 10:107-124.
L. A. Paul (1997). Truth Conditions of Tensed Sentence Types. Synthese 111 (1):53-72.
D. H. Mellor (1998). Transcendental Tense: D.H. Mellor. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 72 (1):29–44.
D. H. Mellor (1998). Transcendental Tense. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 72 (1):29 - 56.
William Seager (1999). The Reality of Now. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 13 (1):69 – 82.
Jon Torgerson (1988). Reichenbach and Smart on Temporal Discourse. Philosophy Research Archives 14:381-394.
Richard Swinburne (1990). Tensed Facts. American Philosophical Quarterly 27 (2):117 - 130.
L. Nathan Oaklander (1996). Mctaggart's Paradox and Smith's Tensed Theory of Time. Synthese 107 (2):205 - 221.
Thomas Baldwin (1999). Back to the Present. Philosophy 74 (2):177-197.
Heather Dyke (2001). The Pervasive Paradox of Tense. Grazer Philosophische Studien 62 (1):103-124.
Added to index2009-08-22
Total downloads161 ( #5,642 of 1,413,269 )
Recent downloads (6 months)9 ( #23,880 of 1,413,269 )
How can I increase my downloads?