The tenseless copula in temporal predication

Erkenntnis 72 (2):267 - 280 (2010)
In this paper I explore how the tenseless copula is to be interpreted in sentences of the form “ a is F at t ”, where “ a ” denotes a persisting, changeable object, “ F ” stands for a prima facie intrinsic property and “ t ” for a B-time. I argue that the interpretation of the copula depends on the logical role assigned to the time clause. Having rejected the idea that the time clause is to be treated as a sentence operator, I argue: (1) that if “at t ” is thought of as being associated with “ a ” or “ F ”, then the tenseless copula is most plausibly read as an “is” simpliciter ; and (2) that if “at t ” is treated as being associated with the copula, then the tenseless copula is most plausibly understood as expressing a disjunction of tensed copulas. I end the paper by explaining the importance of the issue. I indicate the ramifications interpretation of the tenseless copula has for the so-called problem of temporary intrinsics.
Keywords Tenseless predication  Tenseless copula  B-theory of time  Persistence  Endurance  Perdurance  The Problem of Temporary Intrinsics  Change
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