Temporal Ontology

Edited by Sam Baron (University of Western Australia)
Assistant editor: James Darcy (University of Virginia)
About this topic
Summary Temporal ontology is home to two central issues in the philosophy of time. The first issue concerns the ontological status of the past, present and future. The debate here is between liberal accounts of temporal ontology, according to which past, present and future entities all exist and conservative accounts of temporal ontology, which deny that past, present and future entities all exist. Liberal approaches to temporal ontology are typically called eternalist views about time, and are contrasted with the most severe form of conservativeness about temporal ontology: presentism, according to which only present entities exist. The second broad issue in the category of temporal ontology concerns the relationship between the future and agency. If, as eternalists maintain, the future exists, then arguably all of the facts about the future are already setltled. But if the facts about the future are already settled, then the future is closed. If, however, the future is closed, then it would seem that there is nothing we can do now to alter what is going to happen. The central issue facing eternalism from agency then is how to avoid descending into fatalism.
Key works The locus classicus for contemporary presentism is Bigelow 1996. Bourne 2006 is a book-length defense of presentism, which is a must-read on the topic. Putnam 1967 presents the chief motivation for eternalism, namely that it is implied by the special theory of relativity, an issue that comes to the fore in Dieks 2006. Mellor 1998 is an important exposition and defense of an eternalist model of time, whereas Tooley 1997 is an attempt to develop a middle-ground position between presentism and eternalism, according to which the past and present exist but the future does not. Anscombe 1956 is a crucial paper on Aristotlean arguments in favour of fatalism, and Barnes & Cameron 2009 and Barnes & Cameron 2011 represent the state of the art on temporal ontology and fatalism. Markosian 1995 forges a link between the open future and indeterminism about the laws of nature. Determinism about the laws of nature is usefully discussed in Churchland 1981 and Unger 1977.
Introductions Encyclopedia articles include Markosian 2010, Rice 2008, Hoefer 2008 and Le Poidevin 2008.
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  1. SWINBURNE, RICHARD Space, Time and Causality. [REVIEW]D. M. Armstrong - 1984 - Philosophy 59:539.
  2. Complicated Presence: Heidegger and the Postmetaphysical Unity of Being.Jussi Backman - 2015 - State University of New York Press.
    From its Presocratic beginnings, Western philosophy concerned itself with a quest for unity both in terms of the systematization of knowledge and as a metaphysical search for a unity of being—two trends that can be regarded as converging and culminating in Hegel’s system of absolute idealism. Since Hegel, however, the philosophical quest for unity has become increasingly problematic. Jussi Backman returns to that question in this book, examining the place of the unity of being in the work of Heidegger. Backman (...)
  3. Time, Tense, and Thucydides.Egbert J. Bakker - 2007 - Classical World: A Quarterly Journal on Antiquity 100 (2):113-122.
  4. Change and Continuity.Ernest Barker - 1949 - London: Gollancz.
  5. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Time.Sam Baron & Kristie Miller - 2018 - Cambridge: Polity Press.
  6. Why Time is Not a Natural Phenomenon.Samuel K. K. Blankson - 1997
  7. Past Measurement and Future Prediction.Adriënne van den Bogaard - 1999 - In Margaret Morrison & Mary Morgan (eds.), Models as Mediators: Perspectives on Natural and Social Science.
  8. Review: Truth and the Past. [REVIEW]C. Bourne - 2007 - Mind 116 (464):1110-1114.
  9. Determinism or Indeterminism in Microphysics.R. D. Bradley - 1962 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 13 (51):193-215.
  10. No Past, No Future Appunti Per Una Fenomenologia Del Presente.Carlo Brosio - 2013 - Societ〠Degli Individui 46:92-104.
  11. The Past and the Future.Alan Bullock - 1982 - Upa.
    Alan Bullock demonstrates the continuity of mankind's thought and concerns from the historical past, through the troubled and often confusing present into the almost invisible future. This continuum offers us a basis for achieving understanding and perspective, for relating past, present and future. Without seeing this relationship, the moment of our lifetime must seem isolated and meaningless. Co-pubished with the Aspen Institute.
  12. The Unreal Future.John P. Burgess - 1978 - Theoria 44 (3):157-179.
  13. Fatalistic Arguments.Steven Cahn - 1964 - Journal of Philosophy 61 (10):295-305.
  14. Does God Know the Future?Steven M. Cahn - 2009 - In Exploring Philosophy of Religion: An Introductory Anthology. Oxford University Press.
  15. Power of the Past, Glimpse of a Future.Thomas Cassilly & George Bernstein - 1991 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 7 (2):17-19.
  16. Thomism and Modern Science: Relationships Past, Present, and Future.Vatican City - 1968 - The Thomist 32:67-83.
  17. Discourse About the Future: Michael Clark.Michael Clark - 1969 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 3:169-190.
    While philosophers feel relatively comfortable about talking of the present and the past, some of them feel uncomfortable about talking in just the same way of future events. They feel that, in general, discourse about the future differs significantly from discourse about the past and present, and that these differences reflect a logical asymmetry between the past and future beyond the merely defining fact that the future succeeds, and the past precedes, the present time. The problem is: how can we (...)
  18. Introduction: Some Difficulties of Empire--Past, Present, and Future.L. Colley - 2005 - Common Knowledge 11 (2):198-214.
  19. Growing Our Communications Future.Karen Coyle - 1999 - Journal of Information Ethics 8 (1):72-77.
  20. Betwixt and Between: The Past and Future of Intersexuality.Robert A. Crouch - 1998 - Journal of Clinical Ethics 9 (4):372.
  21. J. McTaggart And H. Mellor on Time.Jonas Dagys - 2008 - Problemos 73:115-121.
    The article analyzes John McTaggart’s argument for unreality of time, a classical piece of fin de siècleBrittish idealist metaphysics. Having accepted the distinction between A-series and B-series, one can only resist McTaggartian conclusion by denying at least one of the two: that B-series alone is insufficient for change or that A-series implies a contradiction. Hugh Mellor’s criticism is taken to represent thisstrategy. The lesson to be learnt from this debate is that if the world is conceived as a mere totality (...)
  22. Having a Future.Charles B. Daniels - 1992 - Dialogue 31 (4):661-.
  23. Review of Ross Cameron: The Moving Spotlight: An Essay on Time and Ontology. [REVIEW]Daniel Deasy - 2016 - Journal of Philosophy 113 (9):472-477.
  24. Einsteinova sinkronizacija i konvencionalnost istovremenosti.Mladen Domazet - 2006 - Prolegomena 5 (1):53-64.
    Unatoč naslovu koji pokriva iznimno opširno područje, članak se usredotočuje na blisko pitanje da li Specijalna teorija relativnosti nužno zagovara ukidanje ontološke razlike između prošlih i budućih događaja, između prošlosti i budućnosti općenito. Izraženo žargonom koji uvodi Stein: jesmo li u okviru STR prinuđeni birati isključivo između ‘solipsizma’ i ‘determinizma’? Posebice će biti riječi o ulozi koju konvencionalnost istovremenosti u STR ima u pokušaju odgovora na ovo pitanje. Standardni argumenti pozivaju se na relativnost istovremenosti, tvrdnju da STR negira postojanje univerzalne (...)
  25. The Moving Spotlight: An Essay on Time and Ontology, by Ross Cameron. [REVIEW]Maureen Donnelly - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (4):813-816.
  26. The Reality of the Future: Spacetime Physics and the Objectivity of Temporal Becoming.Mauro Dorato - 1993 - Dissertation, The Johns Hopkins University
    Temporal becoming is usually considered the essence of the concept of time. But in our century most physicists and philosophers have defended the view that becoming is dependent on the existence of conscious beings and that there is no ontological difference between past and future. I evaluate these related claims both in light of their conceptual implications and by bringing to bear our best spacetime theories. ;Since a mind-independent becoming should be grounded in an ontological, non-epistemic asymmetry between past and (...)
  27. Liberating the Future From the Past? Liberating the Past From the Future?William Edmundson - manuscript
    He has two antagonists: the first pushes him from behind, from his origin. The second blocks his road ahead. He struggles with both. Actually the first supports him in his struggle with the second, for the first wants to push him forward; and in the same way the second supports him in his struggle with the first, for the second of course forces him back. But it is only theoretically so. For it is not only the two protagonists who are (...)
  28. A Study of Time in Modern Physics.Peter W. Evans - 2011 - Dissertation,
    This thesis is a study of the notion of time in modern physics, consisting of two parts. Part I takes seriously the doctrine that modern physics should be treated as the primary guide to the nature of time. To this end, it offers an analysis of the various conceptions of time that emerge in the context of various physical theories and, furthermore, an analysis of the relation between these conceptions of time and the more orthodox philosophical views on the nature (...)
  29. Is the Future Really Real?Jan Faye - 1993 - American Philosophical Quarterly 30 (3):259 - 269.
  30. Foundations of Mathematics: Past, Present, and Future.Harvey M. Friedman - unknown
    It turns out, time and time again, in order to make serious progress in f.o.m., we need to take actual reasoning and actual development into account at precisely the proper level. If we take these into account too much, then we are faced with information that is just too difficult to create an exact science around - at least at a given state of development of f.o.m. And if we take these into account too little, our findings will not have (...)
  31. Supervenience and (Non-Modal) Reductionism in Leibniz's Philosophy of Time.Michael J. Futch - 2002 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 33 (4):793-810.
    It has recently been suggested that, for Leibniz, temporal facts globally supervene on causal facts, with the result that worlds differing with respect to their causal facts can be indiscernible with respect to their temporal facts. Such an interpretation is at variance with more traditional readings of Leibniz’s causal theory of time, which hold that Leibniz reduces temporal facts to causal facts. In this article, I argue against the global supervenience construal of Leibniz’s philosophy of time. On the view of (...)
  32. The Basis of Indeterminism.Shan Gao - manuscript
  33. The Past, Present and Future of Human Nature.Samuel Gorovitz - 2005 - In Arthur W. Galston & Christiana Z. Peppard (eds.), Expanding Horizons in Bioethics. Springer. pp. 3--18.
  34. To Know the Past One Must First Know the Future: Raymond Smullyan and the Mysteries of Retrograde Analysis.Bernd Graefrath - 2008 - In Benjamin Hale (ed.), Philosophy Looks at Chess. Open Court Press. pp. 1--12.
  35. Counterfactuals of Freedom, Future Contingents, and the Grounding Objection to Middle Knowledge.W. Matthews Grant - 2000 - Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 74:307-323.
  36. Tres instancias originarias de la relación: Vida, conciencia, tiempo.Nicolás Grimaldi - 2012 - Giornale di Metafisica 1.
    The fundamental thesis consists in the assumption of the primary connexion between desire, time, and life. A phenomenological approach to our experience of time shows us the born disposition that allows us to grasp the sense of past, present and future as such. The key of these three dimensions lies in the future, because the past is a pure “becoming matter” of the tendency or radical desire of the reality, always distant of a perfect fulfilling, and not able either to (...)
  37. Are Physical Events Themselves Transiently Past, Present and Future? A Reply to H. A. C. Dobbs.A. Grünbaum - 1969 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 20 (2):145-153.
  38. La philosophie de la physique sans le temps.Alexandre Guay - 2018 - In Joseph Famerée & Paulo Rodrigues (eds.), The Genesis of concepts and the confrontation of rationalities: Theology, Philosophy, Science. Louvain, Belgique: pp. 105-121.
  39. The Ethical Implications of Determinism.Julia H. Gulliver - 1894 - Philosophical Review 3 (1):62-67.
  40. The French Colonies, Past and Future.Ernest Guy - 1945 - Thought: Fordham University Quarterly 20 (1):137-138.
  41. Dispute on the Past and Future of International Law.Jürgen Habermas - 2007 - The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 13:31-39.
  42. The Future.Paul Helm - 1993 - International Studies in Philosophy 25 (1):93-93.
  43. The Once and Future Sea Fight: Aristotle's Discussion of Future Contingents in de Interpretatione IX.Jaakko Hintikka - 1964 - Philosophical Review 73 (4):461-492.
  44. In What Sense, If Any, Do Past and Future Time Exist?Shadworth H. Hodgson - 1897 - Mind 6 (2):231-235.
  45. Causality and Development Past, Present and Future.Brian Hopkins - 2004 - In Alberto Peruzzi (ed.), Mind and Causality. John Benjamins. pp. 55--1.
  46. The Designated Mourner : The Future of Public Administration's Past.Louis E. Howe - 1998 - In Barbara L. Neuby (ed.), Relevancy of the Social Sciences in the Next Millennium. The State University of West Georgia.
  47. Fate, Freedom and Contingency.Ferenc Huoranszki - 2002 - Acta Analytica 17 (1):79-102.
    Argument for fatalism attempts to prove that free choice is a logical or conceptual impossibility. The paper argues that the first two premises of the argument are sound: propositions are either true or false and they have their truth-value eternally. But the claim that from the fatalistic premises with the introduction of some innocent further premise dire consequences follow as regards to the possibility of free choice is false. The introduced premise, which establishes the connection between the first two premises (...)
  48. Past's Weight, Future's Promise: Reading.William Junker - 2003 - Philosophy and Literature 27 (2).
  49. Past Errors and Future Possibilities.Jerome G. Kerwin - 1943 - Modern Schoolman 21 (4):216-224.
  50. Mythical Past, Elusive Future. [REVIEW]Gary Kitchen - 1994 - Radical Philosophy 66.
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