The Triviality Argument Against Presentism

Synthese (forthcoming)
Daniel Deasy
University College Dublin
Presentism is typically characterised as the thesis that everything (unrestrictedly) is present, and therefore there are (quantifying unrestrictedly) no dinosaurs or Martian presidential inaugurations. Putting aside the vexed question of exactly what it is to be present in this context (see Williamson in Modal logic as metaphysics, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2013; Cameron in Anal Philos 57:110–140, 2016; Deasy in Noûs 51:378–397, 2017), this thesis seems quite straightforward. However, a number of authors—such as Merricks (Mind 104:521–531, 1995), Lombard (Philosophia 27:253–260, 1999), Meyer (New papers on the present, Philosophia Verlag, Munich, pp 67–90, 2012), Tallant (Erkenntnis 79:479–501, 2014) and Sakon (Philosophia 43:1089–1109, 2015)—have argued that Presentism so characterised is either trivially true or false even by Presentist lights. This is the so-called Triviality Argument against Presentism. In this paper I show that three of the four premises of the Triviality Argument are plausibly false. I conclude that Presentists have nothing to fear from the Triviality Argument.
Keywords Metaphysics · Time · Presentism · Eternalism · Permanentism
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