The talk I was supposed to give…

… I am not giving it. I am sorry. I changed my mind and I am giving this talk instead—if everything works out as planned. But you may wonder: What is that it that I am not giving? What am I referring to when I apologize for not giving the talk I was supposed to give? Never mind the content of that talk— I can always give you a summary of what I meant to say, if you wish. Indeed, I might even decide to give a talk with that content on a different occasion. The content, however, is not the talk, and if I gave a talk with that content on a different occasion I would not, on my reckoning, give the talk I was supposed to give. For the talk I was supposed to give is something that was supposed to take place today, and that is not going to happen. Hence the worry: How can we talk about it? How can we talk about events that fail to occur? Let us assume Davidson was right in urging that events form a genuine metaphysical category, on a par with material objects.1 Shall we say that a good inventory of the world ought to include “negative” events—failures, omissions, things that didn’t happen—along with positive ones?
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Randolph Clarke (2012). Absence of Action. Philosophical Studies 158 (2):361-376.
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