The pervasive paradox of tense

Grazer Philosophische Studien 62 (1):103-124 (2001)
The debate about the reality of tense descends from an argument of McTaggart's,whichwas designed to prove the unreality of time.The argument has two constituent theses: firstly that time is intrinsically tensed, and secondly, that the notion of tense is inherently self-contradictory. If both of these theses are true, it follows that time does not exist. The debate that has emerged from this argument centres around the truth or falsity of each of these theses. A-theorists accept the first and reject the second thesis, drawing the conclusion that, since there is no contradiction in the notion of tense, time exists and is intrinsically tensed. B-theorists accept the second and reject the first thesis, concluding that the notion of tense is inherently self-contradictory, but since time is not intrinsically tensed, time exists and is tenseless. I think the argument against tense is sound, but time is not intrinsically tensed, so time exists and is tenseless. However, this argument, which has come to be known as McTaggart's paradox, is obscure, which has tended to blunt its force. In this paper I recast McTaggart's paradox in my own terms. The notion of tense has two components: an observer-independent distinction between past, present and future, and a flow of time. Totake tense seriously is to suppose that these two features of tense are also features of time. I argue that they are inherently incompatible with each other, generating a contradiction at the heart of the notion of tense, thus proving that tense is unreal. The contradiction arises no matter how one construes the notion of tense, and I illustrate this by revealing essentially the same contradiction in a number of different accounts of tensed time.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 28,157
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Time, Tense, and Causation.Michael Tooley - 1997 - Oxford University Press.
A-Theory for B-Theorists.Josh Parsons - 2002 - Philosophical Quarterly 52 (206):1-20.
Mc Taggart and the Truth About Time.Heather Dyke - 2002 - In Craig Callender (ed.), Time, Reality and Experience. Cambridge University Press. pp. 137-.
Real Time.D. H. Mellor - 1981 - Cambridge University Press.
Becoming Inflated.Craig Bourne - 2004 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (1):107-119.
Wishing It Were Now Some Other Time.William Lane Craig - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 62 (1):159-166.
Back to the Present.Thomas Baldwin - 1999 - Philosophy 74 (2):177-197.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

100 ( #50,965 of 2,171,928 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

3 ( #117,896 of 2,171,928 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums