It is customary in current philosophy of time to distinguish between an A- (or tensed) and a B- (or tenseless) theory of time. It is also customary to distinguish between an old B-theory of time, and a new B-theory of time. We may say that the former holds both semantic atensionalism and ontological atensionalism, whereas the latter gives up semantic atensionalism and retains ontological atensionalism. It is typically assumed that the B-theorists have been induced by advances in the (...) philosophy of language and related A-theorists’ criticisms to acknowledge that semantic atensionalism can hardly stand, but have also maintained that what is essential for the B-theory is ontological atensionalism, which can be independently defended. Here it is argued that the B-theorists have been too quick in abandoning semantic atensionalism: they can still cling to it. (shrink)
In this paper I consider two strategies for providing tenseless truth-conditions for tensed sentences: the token-reflexive theory and the date theory. Both theories have faced a number of objections by prominent A-theorists such as Quentin Smith and William Lane Craig. Traditionally, these two theories have been viewed as rival methods for providing truth-conditions for tensed sentences. I argue that the debate over whether the token-reflexive theory or the date theory is true has arisen from a failure to distinguish between conditions (...) for the truth of tensed tokens and conditions for the truth of propositions expressed by tensed tokens. I demonstrate that there is a true formulation of the token-reflexive theory that provides necessary and sufficient conditions for the truth of tensed tokens, and there is a true formulation of the date theory that provides necessary and sufficient conditions for the truth of propositions expressed by tensed tokens. I argue that once the views are properly formulated, the A-theorist’s objections fail to make their mark. However, I conclude by claiming that even though there is a true formulation of the token-reflexive theory and a true formulation of the date theory, the New B-theory nonetheless fails to provide a complete account of the truth and falsity of tensed sentences. (shrink)
Elsewhere I have suggested that the B-theory includes a notion of passage, by virtue of including succession. Here, I provide further support for that claim by showing that uncontroversial elements of the B-theory straightforwardly ground a veridical sense of passage. First, I argue that the B-theory predicts that subjects of experience have a sense of passivity with respect to time that they do not have with respect to space, which they are right to have, even according to (...) the B-theory. I then ask what else might be involved in our experience of time as passing that is not yet vindicated by the B-theoretic conception. I examine a recent B-theoretic explanation of our ‘illusory’ sense of passage, by Robin Le Poidevin, and argue that it explains away too much: our perception of succession poses no more of a problem on the B-theory than it does on other theories of time. Finally, I respond to an objection by Oreste Fiocco that a causal account of our sense of passage cannot succeed, because it leaves out the ‘phenomenological novelty’ of each moment. (shrink)
The A-theory of time states that there is an absolute fact of the matter about what events are, respectively, in the past, present and future. The B-theory says that all there is to temporality are the relations of earlier-than, later-than and simultaneous-with, and the past, present and future are merely relative.
This paper discusses Robin Le Poidevin’s proposal that a commitment to the B-theory of time provides a reason to relinquish the fear of death. After outlining Le Poidevin’s views on time and death, I analyze the specific passages in which he makes his proposal, giving close attention to the claim that, for the B-theorist, one’s life is “eternally real.” I distinguish two possible interpretations of this claim, which I call alethic eternalism and ontic eternalism respectively, and argue, with reference (...) to statements by other B-theroists, that alethic eternalism is the only viable option. I highlight two problems for Le Poidevin’s proposal: firstly, even if alethic eternalism does provide a reason not to fear death, this same reason is available to A-theorists; and secondly, alethic eternalism does not in fact provide such a reason. Having critically assessed possible responses to these problems, I conclude that Le Poidevin’s proposal is unfounded. (shrink)
This thesis is about the conceptualization of persistence of physical, middle-sized objects within the theoretical framework of the revisionary ‘B-theory’ of time. According to the B-theory, time does not flow, but is an extended and inherently directed fourth dimension along which the history of the universe is ‘laid out’ once and for all. It is a widespread view among philosophers that if we accept the B-theory, the commonsensical ‘endurance theory’ of persistence will have to be rejected. The (...) endurance theory says that objects persist through time by being wholly present at distinct times as numerically the same entity. Instead of endurantism, it has been argued, we have to adopt either ‘perdurantism’ or the ‘stage theory’. Perdurantism is the theory that objects are four-dimensional ‘space-time worms’ persisting through time by having distinct temporal parts at distinct times. The stage theory says that objects are instantaneous temporal parts (stages) of space-time worms, persisting by having distinct temporal counterparts at distinct times. In the thesis, it is argued that no good arguments have been provided for the conclusion that we are obliged to drop the endurance theory by acceptance of the B-theory. This conclusion stands even if the endurance theory incorporates the claim that objects endure through intrinsic change. It is also shown that perdurantism and the stage theory come with unwelcome consequences. -/- Paper I demonstrates that the main arguments for the view that objects cannot endure in B-time intrinsically unchanged fail. Papers II and III do the same with respect to the traditional arguments against endurance through intrinsic change in B-time. Paper III also contains a detailed account of the semantics of the tenseless copula, which occurs frequently in the debate. The contention of Paper IV is that four-dimensional space-time worms, as traditionally understood, are not suited to take dispositional predicates. In Paper V, it is shown that the stage theory needs to introduce an overabundance of persistence-concepts, many of which will have to be simultaneously applicable to a single object (qua falling under a single sortal), in order for the theory to be consistent. The final article, Paper VI, investigates the sense in which persistence can, as is sometimes suggested, be a ‘conventional matter’. It also asks whether alleged cases of ‘conventional persistence’ create trouble for the endurance theory. It is argued that conventions can only enter at a trivial semantic level, and that the endurance theory is no more threatened by such conventions than are its rivals. (shrink)
The debate between A-theory and B-theory in the philosophy of time is a persistent one. It is not always clear, however, what the terms of this debate are. A-theorists are often lumped with a miscellaneous collection of heterodox doctrines: the view that only the present exists, that time ﬂows relentlessly, or that presentness is a property (Williams 1996); that time passes, tense is unanalysable, or that earlier than and later than are deﬁned in terms of pastness, presentness, and futurity (...) (Bigelow 1991); or that events or facts (as opposed to language) are “tensed” (Mellor 1993). B-theorists then argue that the A-theory is incoherent, using variants on J.M.E. McTaggart’s argument for the unreality of time (McTaggart 1927, ch. 33). (shrink)
Dōgen's views of time are descriptively compared to the modern western philosophical view called "B-theory" and found to contain elements of each of the four main tenets of the B-theory. Furthermore, a fundamental incongruency is discovered. Even accounting for traditional Buddhist approaches to apparent contradictions, Dōgen's problems in this regard call into question the assumption of consistency that has characterized modern interpretations of his views on time.
The co-reporting theory holds that for every A-sentence-token there is a B-sentence that differs in sense but reports the same event orstate of affairs. Thus, if it is now t7, what is reported by now tokening “It is t7 now” is identical with what is reported by tokening “It is t7 at t7.” Quentin Smith has argued that the fact that the sentence-tokens differ in sense but are co-reporting is compatible with the A-theory supposition that their difference in sense consists (...) in the fact that the A-sentence-token alone conveys the information that t7 has an irreducible A-property of presentness. I counter argue that every time the indexical “now” is tokened it expresses, not an irreducible A-property, but a unique individual essence of a moment of time which can be apprehended only at that time. (shrink)
The paper has two parts: First, I describe a relatively popular thesis in the philosophy of propositional attitudes, worthy of the name “taking tense seriously”; and I distinguish it from a family of views in the metaphysics of time, namely, the A-theories (or what are sometimes called “tensed theories of time”). Once the distinction is in focus, a skeptical worry arises. Some A-theorists maintain that the difference between past, present, and future, is to be drawn in terms of what exists: (...) growing-block theorists eschew ontological commitment to future entities; presentists, to future and past entities. Others think of themselves as A-theorists but exclude no past or future things from their ontology. The metaphysical skeptic suspects that their attempt to articulate an “eternalist” version of the A-theory collapses into merely “taking tense seriously” — a thesis that does not imply the A-theory. The second half of the paper is the search for a stable eternalist A-theory. It includes discussion of temporary intrinsics, temporal parts, and truth. (shrink)
Galton and subsequent investigators find wide divergences in people's subjective reports of mental imagery. Such individual differences might be taken to explain the peculiarly irreconcilable disputes over the nature and cognitive significance of imagery which have periodically broken out among psychologists and philosophers. However, to so explain these disputes is itself to take a substantive and questionable position on the cognitive role of imagery. This article distinguishes three separable issues over which people can be "for" or "against" mental images. Conflation (...) of these issues can lead to theoretical differences being mistaken for experiential differences, even by theorists themselves. This is applied to the case of John B. Watson, who inaugurated a half-century of neglect of image psychology. Watson originally claimed to have vivid imagery; by 1913 he was denying the existence of images. This strange reversal, which made his behaviorism possible, is explicable as a "creative misconstrual" of Dunlap's "motor" theory of imagination. (shrink)
James B. Ashbrook's "new natural theology in an empirical mode" pursued an integrated understanding of the spiritual, psychological, and neurological dimensions of spiritual life. Knowledge of neuroscience and personality theory was central to his quest, and his understandings were necessarily revised and amplified as scientific findings emerged. As a result, Ashbrook's legacy may serve as a case example of how to do religion-and-science in a milieu of scientific change. The constant in the quest was Ashbrook's core belief in the basic (...) holism of brain, mind, personality, the nature of reality, and the underlying reality of God. (shrink)
Gergely and Csibra's theory, known as "natural pedagogy theory", is meant to explain how infants fast-learn generic knowledge from adults. In this paper, my goal is to assess the explanatory import of this theory in a particular case, namely the phenomena known as "A-not-B errors". I first propose a clarification of natural pedagogy theory's fundamental hypotheses. Then, I describe Topál et al.'s (Science, 321, 1831-1834, 2008) experiments, which consist in applying natural pedagogy theory's framework to the A-not-B errors. Finally, I (...) show that natural pedagogy theory, in its actual stage of development, does not suffice to choose between various interpretations of Topál et al.'s experimental results. (shrink)
I examine G.B. Bagci’s arguments for the Ghirardi-Rimini-Weber (GRW) interpretation of non-relativistic quantum mechanics as ideally suited for Whitehead’s philosophy. Much of Bagci’s claims are in response to Michael Epperson, who argues in the same vein in favor of decoherence accounts (Omnès; Zureck). Pace Epperson, I do not think that decoherence is the final arbiter here, and instead I contrast GRW with several other accounts addressing foundational problems of quantum theory (Finkelstein; Green; Peres and Terno; etc.), which also account for (...) relativistic covariance, while GRW does not. I argue that such latter research programs align themselves in a more convincing manner with Whitehead’s scheme, in epistemic as well as metaphysical senses, than GRW. (shrink)
The B-theory of time holds that McTaggart’s A-series of past, present, and future is reducible to the B-series of events running from earlier to later. According to the date-theory—originally put forth by J.J.C. Smart and later endorsed by by D.H. Mellor—the truth conditions of tensed or Asentence-tokens can be given in terms of tenseless or B-sentences and, therefore, A-sentence-tokens do not ascribe any A-determinations of pastness, presentness, or futurity. However, as Nathan Oaklander has argued, the date-theory does not provide (...) an adequate analysis of the ontological truth conditions of irreducible A-propositions. I show that the co-reporting theory—which holds that for every A-sentence-token there is a B-sentence that differs in sense but reports the same event or state of affairs—escapes the objections Oaklander has addressed against the date-theory. (shrink)
If, as the new B-theory of time maintains, tensed sentences have tenseness truth conditions, it follows that it is possible for two sentence-tokens to have the same truth conditions but different meanings. This conclusion forces a rethink of the traditional identification of truth-conditions with meaning. There is an aspect of the meanings of tensed sentences that is not captured by their truth conditions, and that has so far eluded explanation. In this paper I intend to locate, examine, and explain (...) this feature of tensed meaning. (shrink)
In response to a recent challenge that the New B-theory of Time argues invalidly from the claim that tensed sentences have tenseless truth conditions to the conclusion that temporal reality is tenseless, I argue that while early B-theorists may have relied on some such inference, New B-theorists do not. Giving tenseless truth conditions for tensed sentences is not intended to prove that temporal reality is tenseless. Rather, it is intended to undermine the A-theorist’s move from claims about the irreducibility (...) of tensed language to the conclusion that temporal reality must be tensed. I then examine how A-theorists have used facts about language in attempting to establish their conclusions about the nature of temporal reality. I take the recent work of William Lane Craig and argue that he implicitly and illicitly moves from facts about temporal language to his conclusion that temporal reality is tensed. (shrink)
Two recurrent arguments levelled against the view that enduring objects survive change are examined within the framework of the B-theory of time: the argument from Leibniz's Law and the argument from Instantiation of Incompatible Properties. Both arguments are shown to be question-begging and hence unsuccessful.
Does the A-theory have an intuitive advantage over the B-theory? Many A-theorists have claimed so, arguing that their theory has a much better explanation for the fact that we all experience the passage of time: we experience time as passing because time really does pass. In this paper I expose and reject the argument behind the A-theorist’s claim. I argue that all parties have conceded far too easily that there is an experience that needs explaining in the first place. (...) For what exactly is an experience of temporal passage? One natural thought is that we experience passage in virtue of experiencing change, or in virtue of experiencing change as ‘dynamic’. Another is that we experience passage in virtue of experiencing events as (successively) present. None of these experiences, I argue, amounts to an experience of passage. Although there might still be other ways to experience passage, A-theorists would have to provide us with a plausible candidate experience. If there is such an experience at all, it won’t be one that qualifies as what we intuitively take to be an experience of passage. The ‘intuitive advantage’, it seems, has dissolved in any case. (shrink)
Three arguments for the conclusion that objects cannot endure in B-time even if they remain intrinsically unchanged are examined: Carter and Hestevolds enduring-objects-as-universals argument (American Philosophical Quarterly 31(4):269-283, 1994) and Barker and Dowe's paradox 1 and paradox 2 (Analysis 63(2):106-114, 2003, Analysis 65(1):69-74, 2005). All three are shown to fail.
In this paper, we inquire further into the question of the emergence of new orders in physics, first raised in an earlier paper. In this inquiry, we are led to suggest that the quantum theory indicates the need for yet another new order, which we call “enfolded” or “implicate.” One of the most striking examples of the implicate order is to be seen by considering the function of the hologram, which clearly reveals how a total content (in principle extending over (...) the whole of space and time) is “enfolded” in the movement of waves (electromagnetic and other kinds) in any given region. We then come to the notion that the quantum theory indicates that this implicate order is not merely a dependent or fortuitous feature of the content, but rather, that it should be considered as the independent ground of existence of things, while the ordinary explicate order is what should be considered as dependent. Finally, in the appendix we point out how the implicate order is expressed naturally in terms of an algebra similar to that of the quantum theory, which is, however, subject to generalizations going beyond the limits of what has meaning in this theory. Various new directions of further research are indicated, which will be explained in later papers. (shrink)
During the twentieth century, bibliographic classification theory underwent a structural revolution. The first modern bibliographic classifications were top-down systems that started at the universe of knowledge and subdivided that universe downward to minute subclasses. After the invention of faceted classification by S.R. Ranganathan, the ideal was to build bottom-up classifications that started with the universe of concepts and built upward to larger and larger faceted classes. This ideal has not been achieved, and the two kinds of classification systems are not (...) mutually exclusive. This paper examines the process by which this structural revolution was accomplished by looking at the spread of facet theory after 1924 when Ranganathan attended the School of Librarianship, London, through selected classification textbooks that were published after that date. To this end, the paper examines the role of W.C.B. Sayers as a teacher and author of three editions of The Manual of Classification for Librarians and Bibliographers. Sayers influenced both Ranganathan and the various members of the Classification Research Group (CRG) who were his students. Further, the paper contrasts the methods of evaluating classification systems that arose between Sayers’s Canons of Classification in 1915–1916 and J. Mills’s A Modern Outline of Library Classification in 1960 in order to demonstrate the speed with which one kind of classificatory structure was overtaken by another. (shrink)
In the following article, we propose to show that following the general verificationist epistemic programme (its demand that the truth of our judgments be verifiable), the analysis of measurement on the one hand, and the classical positivist analysis of common-sense observation on the other, do not lead to same conclusions. This is especially important, because the differences in conclusions concern the positivist theory/observation distinction. In particular, the analysis of measurement does not fully support this distinction. This fact might have important (...) consequences for the problem of scientific realism and related ontological and epistemological problems in the philosophy of science. (shrink)
In The Agrarian Vision , Thompson argues that a better appreciation of agrarian ideals could lead to a more virtuous, more sustainable way of life. While I agree with Thompson in many respects, there are some aspects of the book that I question and others that I would like to hear Thompson explicate in greater detail. In this paper, I question Thompson’s claim that agrarian farmers and farming communities serve as ideal models of virtuous habits and good character. I challenge (...) Thompson’s use of virtue theory, particularly the notion that farming virtues can be acquired without participating in farming practices. In the end, I make the point that Thompson seems to vacillate between being realistic and being idealistic, which may seriously complicate our notions of responsibility and obligation in practice. (shrink)