The Minimal A-theory

Philosophical Studies 158 (2):149-174 (2012)

Authors
Meghan Sullivan
University of Notre Dame
Abstract
Timothy Williamson thinks that every object is a necessary, eternal existent. In defense of his view, Williamson appeals primarily to considerations from modal and tense logic. While I am uncertain about his modal claims, I think there are good metaphysical reasons to believe permanentism: the principle that everything always exists. B-theorists of time and change have long denied that objects change with respect to unqualified existence. But aside from Williamson, nearly all A-theorists defend temporaryism: the principle that there are temporary existents. I think A-theorists are better off without this added commitment, but I will not argue for that in any great detail here. Instead, I will contend that a very tempting A-theoretic argument for temporaryism is unsound. In the first half of the paper, I will develop the Moorean “common sense” argument for temporaryism and dispute its central premise, namely that temporaryism is a valid generalization from highly plausible beliefs about change. I will argue that given the pervasive vagueness in our ordinary beliefs about change and the background commitments of all A-theories, no party can claim to be the common sense view because no party can accommodate most of our common sense beliefs about change in existence. In the second half of the paper, I will propose a permanentist A-theory that explains all change over time as a species of property change. I call it the minimal A-theory, since it dispenses with the change in existence assumption. As we'll see, the permanentist alternative performs well enough in explaining our ordinary beliefs about change, and it has better prospects for answering some objections commonly levied against A-theories.
Keywords A-theory of time  Time  Existence  Property change vague change  Essentialism
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-012-9888-5
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References found in this work BETA

Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1994 - Routledge.
On What Grounds What.Jonathan Schaffer - 2009 - In David Manley, David J. Chalmers & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press. pp. 347-383.
Truth and Ontology.Trenton Merricks - 2007 - Oxford University Press.
On the Plurality of Worlds.David Lewis - 1986 - Journal of Philosophy 85 (1):42-47.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Moving Spotlight Theory.Daniel Deasy - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (8):2073-2089.
What is Presentism?Daniel Deasy - 2017 - Noûs 51 (2):378-397.
Tense and Relativity.Andrew Bacon - 2018 - Noûs 52 (3):667-696.

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