Presentism is typically taken as the ‘common-sense’ account of time, and is most easily characterized as the combination of two theses. First of all, the presentist holds that only the present time exists, or conversely that no non-present times exist. Alternatively, this ontological thesis is often formulated solely in terms of present objects, i.e. as the thesis that only present objects exist or that no non-present objects exist. This makes presentism the natural foil for eternalism, which holds that past, present, and future times (or objects) are ontologically on par. Second, presentism is typically understood as an A-theoretic account of time committed to an objective, changing present. This commitment to a dynamic account of time is shared with similar A-theoretic accounts such as the growing block and moving spotlight views of time.
Contemporary presentism can trace its roots back to the work of A.N. Prior, but the classic contemporary defense of the view is provided by Bigelow 1996. Bigelow presents a forceful statement of presentism’s common-sense motivations as well as a popular template for responding to some of presentism’s most pressing objections. Markosian 2004 provides a useful summary of objections faced by presentism and defends a number of responses. Keller 2004 is an excellent survey of one of presentism’s central philosophical problems, the truthmaking objection, and argues against a number of responses available to the presentist. Bourne 2006 provides a powerful book-length defense of presentism, while Crisp 2007 argues for a similar account. Bourne and Crisp offer what is termed an ‘ersatz’ account of presentism that represents a state of the art response to truthmaking objections to presentism. Merricks 2007 and Tallant 2009 contain interesting further discussion of presentism and the truthmaking objection. Presentism is also often taken to face a challenge from relativity. Putnam 1967 and Rietdijk 1966 represent the classic presentation of this challenge. See Monton 2001 and Wuthrich 2010 for further discussion of the relationship between presentism and contemporary physics.
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