McTaggart's argument that time is unreal was agreed by few philosophers, but it opened up a great split among twentieth‐century philosophers of time over the question of whether time must form an A‐series (“A‐theory”) or whether a B‐series suffices for the reality of time (“B‐theory”). This chapter discusses the most prominent twentieth‐century arguments in favor of the negative responses to questions that were seen to be especially important in deciding this matter. It begins with the puzzle of change (...) because if one accepts that temporal predicates indeed any predicates that can report change are in fact relations, then the appeal of the four pillars of the B‐theory becomes apparent. The pillars of B‐theory are (i) any conception of temporal passage as the gain and loss of non‐relational, tensed properties is incoherent; (ii) the underlying, logical structure of tensed language is tenseless; (iii) eternalism; and (iv) temporal experience is explainable B‐theoretically. (shrink)
We care not only about what experiences we have, but when we have them too. However, on the B-theory of time, something’s timing isn’t an intrinsic way for that thing to be or become. Given B-theory, should we be rationally indifferent about the timing per se of an experience? In this paper, I argue that B-theorists can justify time-biased preferences for pains to be past rather than present and for pleasures to be present rather than past. In support (...) of this argument, I appeal to the doctrine of temporal parts or “four-dimensionalism” for short. When held in conjunction with a certain evaluative principle about whose experiences matter, four-dimensionalism reconciles B-theory with some time-biased preferences. (shrink)
The most important argument against the B-theory of time is the paraphrase argument. The major defense against that argument is the “new” tenseless theory of time, which is built on what I will call the “indexical reply” to the paraphrase argument. The move from the “old” tenseless theory of time to the new is most centrally a change of viewpoint about the nature and determiners of ontological commitment. Ironically, though, the new tenseless theorists have generally not paid (...) enough sustained, direct attention to that notion. I will defend a general criterion of ontological commitment and apply it to generate a version of the new tenseless theory of time. I will argue that many of the extant versions of the new tenseless theory of time (specifically, all those which seek to identify tenseless truth-conditions of tensed sentences as a way out of apparent ontological commitment to tensed features of reality) are unsatisfactory because their general criterion of ontological commitment is inadequate. Those versions of the new tenseless theory which are adequate (specifically, those which identify tenseless truthmakers for tensed sentences) actually entail the criterion of ontological commitment that I defend, despite appearances to the contrary. (shrink)
This paper discusses Robin Le Poidevin’s proposal that a commitment to the B-theory of time provides a reason to relinquish the fear of death. After outlining Le Poidevin’s views on time and death, I analyze the specific passages in which he makes his proposal, giving close attention to the claim that, for the B-theorist, one’s life is “eternally real.” I distinguish two possible interpretations of this claim, which I call alethic eternalism and ontic eternalism respectively, and argue, with reference (...) to statements by other B-theroists, that alethic eternalism is the only viable option. I highlight two problems for Le Poidevin’s proposal: firstly, even if alethic eternalism does provide a reason not to fear death, this same reason is available to A-theorists; and secondly, alethic eternalism does not in fact provide such a reason. Having critically assessed possible responses to these problems, I conclude that Le Poidevin’s proposal is unfounded. (shrink)
The A-theory of time states that there is an absolute fact of the matter about what events are, respectively, in the past, present and future. The B-theory says that all there is to temporality are the relations of earlier-than, later-than and simultaneous-with, and the past, present and future are merely relative.
In this paper I describe a specific emotional reaction to the fact that we will cease to exist, namely existential dread, and I argue that the B-theory of time, according to which reality contains a four-dimensional spacetime manifold and the present time is metaphysically on a par with past and future times, cannot accommodate it. Some may see this as an advantage of the B-theory; some may see it as a problem for the view. My aim is not (...) to argue either for or against the B-theory, but merely to show that it is incompatible with a certain common emotion. The paper is split into three sections. I begin by introducing existential dread. Next, I show how existential dread fits into a widely accepted theory of emotion according to which emotions are intentional states susceptible of being both intelligible and correct, where an emotion is intelligible if, roughly, it makes sense; and is correct if, roughly, it fits its object. The core of the paper is the third section: in that section, I introduce the B-theory of time and I argue that it is incompatible with existential dread. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Closed time is possible in several senses of ‘possible’. One might like to know, therefore, whether closed time is possible in the sense that it is compatible with standard metaphysical theories of time. In this paper I am concerned with whether closed time is compatible with A and/or B theories of time. A common enough view amongst philosophers is that B theories do but A theories do not allow closed time. However, I show that prima-facie neither approach allows closed (...) time, but that with a little work standard versions of both approaches do. This shows that there’s no special problem with the notion of eternal return. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to explore the connection between change and the B-theory of time, sometimes also called the Scientific view of time, according to which reality is a four-dimensional spacetime manifold, where past, present and future things equally exist, and the present time and non-present times are metaphysically the same. I argue in favour of a novel response to the much-vexed question of whether there is change on the B-theory or not. In fact, B-theorists are (...) often said to hold a ‘static’ view of time. But this far from being innocent label: if the B-theory of time presents a model of temporal reality that is static, then there is no change on the B-theory. From this, one can reasonably think as follows: of course, there is change, so the B-theory must be false. What I plan to do in this paper is to argue that in some sense there is change on the B-theory, but in some other sense, there is no change on the B-theory. To do so, I present three instances of change: Existential Change, namely the view that things change with respect to their existence over time; Qualitative Change, the view that things change with respect to how they are over time; Propositional Change, namely the view that things (i.e. propositions) change with respect to truth value over time. I argue that while there is a reading of these three instances of change that is true on the B-theory, and so there is change on the B-theory in this sense, there is a B-theoretical reading of each of them that is not true on the B-theory, and therefore there is no change on the B-theory in this other sense. (shrink)
New B-Theorists of language, while conceding the untranslatability of tensed sentences by tenseless sentences, deny that the ineliminability of tense implies the reality of tensed facts. Thus, New BTheorist Nathan Oaklander explains, For a variety of reasons, ... recent defenders of the tenseless view have come to embrace the thesis that tensed sentences cannot be translated by tenseless ones without loss of meaning. Nevertheless, recent detensers have denied that the ineliminability of tensed language and thought entails the reality of temporal (...) properties. ... Tensed discourse is indeed necessary for timely action, but tensed facts are not, since the truth conditions of tensed sentences can be expressed in a tenseless meta-language that describes unchanging temporal relations between and among events. (shrink)
It is customary in current philosophy of time to distinguish between an A- (or tensed) and a B- (or tenseless) theory of time. It is also customary to distinguish between an old B-theory of time, and a new B-theory of time. We may say that the former holds both semantic atensionalism and ontological atensionalism, whereas the latter gives up semantic atensionalism and retains ontological atensionalism. It is typically assumed that the B-theorists have been induced by advances in (...) the philosophy of language and related A-theorists’ criticisms to acknowledge that semantic atensionalism can hardly stand, but have also maintained that what is essential for the B-theory is ontological atensionalism, which can be independently defended. Here it is argued that the B-theorists have been too quick in abandoning semantic atensionalism: they can still cling to it. (shrink)
The paper has two parts: First, I describe a relatively popular thesis in the philosophy of propositional attitudes, worthy of the name ‘taking tense seriously’; and I distinguish it from a family of views in the metaphysics of time, namely, the A-theories (or what are sometimes called ‘tensed theories of time’). Once the distinction is in focus, a skeptical worry arises. Some A-theorists maintain that the difference between past, present, and future, is to be drawn in terms of what exists: (...) growing-block theorists eschew ontological commitment to future entities; presentists, to future and past entities. Others think of themselves as A-theorists but exclude no past or future things from their ontology. The metaphysical skeptic suspects that their attempt to articulate an ‘eternalist’ version of the A-theory collapses into merely ‘taking tense seriously’– a thesis that does not imply the A-theory. The second half of the paper is the search for a stable eternalist A-theory. It includes discussion of temporary intrinsics, temporal parts, and truth. (shrink)
In this paper I consider two strategies for providing tenseless truth-conditions for tensed sentences: the token-reflexive theory and the date theory. Both theories have faced a number of objections by prominent A-theorists such as Quentin Smith and William Lane Craig. Traditionally, these two theories have been viewed as rival methods for providing truth-conditions for tensed sentences. I argue that the debate over whether the token-reflexive theory or the date theory is true has arisen from a failure (...) to distinguish between conditions for the truth of tensed tokens and conditions for the truth of propositions expressed by tensed tokens. I demonstrate that there is a true formulation of the token-reflexive theory that provides necessary and sufficient conditions for the truth of tensed tokens, and there is a true formulation of the date theory that provides necessary and sufficient conditions for the truth of propositions expressed by tensed tokens. I argue that once the views are properly formulated, the A-theorist’s objections fail to make their mark. However, I conclude by claiming that even though there is a true formulation of the token-reflexive theory and a true formulation of the date theory, the New B-theory nonetheless fails to provide a complete account of the truth and falsity of tensed sentences. (shrink)
Elsewhere I have suggested that the B-theory includes a notion of passage, by virtue of including succession. Here, I provide further support for that claim by showing that uncontroversial elements of the B-theory straightforwardly ground a veridical sense of passage. First, I argue that the B-theory predicts that subjects of experience have a sense of passivity with respect to time that they do not have with respect to space, which they are right to have, even according to (...) the B-theory. I then ask what else might be involved in our experience of time as passing that is not yet vindicated by the B-theoretic conception. I examine a recent B-theoretic explanation of our ‘illusory’ sense of passage, by Robin Le Poidevin, and argue that it explains away too much: our perception of succession poses no more of a problem on the B-theory than it does on other theories of time. Finally, I respond to an objection by Oreste Fiocco that a causal account of our sense of passage cannot succeed, because it leaves out the ‘phenomenological novelty’ of each moment. (shrink)
New B-Theorists of language, while conceding the untranslatability of tensed sentences by tenseless sentences, deny that the ineliminability of tense implies the reality of tensed facts. Thus, New BTheorist Nathan Oaklander explains,For a variety of reasons,... recent defenders of the tenseless view have come to embrace the thesis that tensed sentences cannot be translated by tenseless ones without loss of meaning. Nevertheless, recent detensers have denied that the ineliminability of tensed language and thought entails the reality of temporal properties.... Tensed (...) discourse is indeed necessary for timely action, but tensed facts are not, since the truth conditions of tensed sentences can be expressed in a tenseless meta-language that describes unchanging temporal relations between and among events. (shrink)
What system of morals should rational people select as the best for society? Using a contemporary psychological theory of action and of motivation, Richard Brandt's Oxford lectures argue that the purpose of living should be to strive for the greatest good for the largest number of people. Brandt's discussions range from the concept of welfare to conflict between utilitarian moral codes and the dictates of self-interest.
Greek art and literature follow parallel courses through the long period from Homer to Euripides. Homer and Euripides, Dipylon vases and the latest white lekythoi are as far apart from each other as it is possible for works in the same medium to be. The distance can only be explained by a similar change in the views of artists, writers, and their public.
This provocative but persuasive book is essentially a radical attack upon the Humean conception of causality and the presentation and defense of a counter-theory, closer to everyday experience and pre-Humean traditional views. As formulated by empiricist philosophers, the Humean approach depends on two basic postulates. The philosophical analysis of any non-empirical concept must be a formal explication; any residue elements have to be accounted for in terms of their psychological origins. The world as experienced can be conceived adequately as (...) a logically independent system of things or flux of events, without the unwarranted assumption that individuals persist diachronically. As the grounds for undermining these assumptions, the authors develop a conception of causes as "powerful particulars," i.e., things which have both a nature and powers. So long as the nature remains unchanged the agent in question will continue to behave in this fashion with a natural necessity, stemming from the individual’s nature and specific powers. The opening chapter discusses the problem of conceptual and natural necessity—as distinct from logical necessity which alone is allowed by the Humean empiricists. Natural necessity is the mark of the relationship between real causes and their respective effects, whereas conceptual necessity characterizes the way our statements about such are themselves related. Later the irreducibility of natural necessity is emphasized and its differences from logical entailment spelled out. Chapter two takes up the subject of the "regularity theory and its allies." Characteristic of such are two claims: the empirical content of a causal-relationship statement is exhausted by the actual or hypothetical regularity between independent entities, and the necessity ordinarily attributed to causal production is an illusion, to be accounted for in various ways. Subsequent chapters are devoted to assaulting the pillars of the Humean notion either directly or indirectly through an illuminating and attractive account of their own theory of nature, causal powers, and natural necessity. The final chapter, entitled "Fields of Potential," indulges in speculation about the nature of ultimate entities on the basis of an extended generalization of the notion of the powerful individual, and concludes with a brief account of the historical antecedents of Faraday’s modern field theory and the metaphysical implications of a generalized field theory.—A.B.W. (shrink)
The debate between A-theory and B-theory in the philosophy of time is a persistent one. It is not always clear, however, what the terms of this debate are. A-theorists are often lumped with a miscellaneous collection of heterodox doctrines: the view that only the present exists, that time ﬂows relentlessly, or that presentness is a property (Williams 1996); that time passes, tense is unanalysable, or that earlier than and later than are deﬁned in terms of pastness, presentness, and (...) futurity (Bigelow 1991); or that events or facts (as opposed to language) are “tensed” (Mellor 1993). B-theorists then argue that the A-theory is incoherent, using variants on J.M.E. McTaggart’s argument for the unreality of time (McTaggart 1927, ch. 33). (shrink)
The modern reinterpretations of Vico are a good example of the rethinking by historians of one age of the rethinking by historians of previous ages of the original thought of a philosopher. The present volume stresses the unique unity of theory and practice in Vico's thought and dispels some unfounded criticisms, such as his alleged reliance on the geometric method, inconsistencies in his use of the terms "philosophy" and "philology," and the mechanical acceptance of the patterns of development of (...) Greece and Rome as the patterns for all nations. Above all, it is suggested that, although Providence was central to Vico's conception of historical development, his system does not collapse by modern rejection of this force. The principle of the continuity of human nature which lies at the core of Dilthey's insight into the special character of history was stated in its pure form by Vico a century and a half earlier. Vico's ideas were sharpened in his critiques of Grotius, Selden, Pufendorf, and Francis Bacon. While drawing some positive inspiration from each, he found in them the common deficiency of reading their own abstract principles into history. Descartes, however, emerges as Vico's bête noire because of his dismissal of history as incapable of producing certainty. Vico's biting polemic against Descartes pales the criticisms of Arnauld and Gassendi, and, at the same time, illustrates the sweep and power of his own historically-grounded concepts. The author gives major attention to Vico's notion of the limits of knowledge, to his notion of cause, to the historicity of human society and its laws and governments, to the vital role of language, to the distinction between imaginative universals and rational universals, and to the necessary union in his New Science of philosophy and philology. Manson is an unrestrained admirer of Vico and he makes no effort to dilute his enthusiasm by taking critical exception to any fundamental aspect of Vico's epistemology.--H. B. (shrink)
George Lakoff (in his book Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things(1987) and the paper "Cognitive semantics" (1988)) champions some radical foundational views. Strikingly, Lakoff opposes realism as a metaphysical position, favoring instead some supposedly mild form of idealism such as that recently espoused by Hilary Putnam, going under the name "internal realism." For what he takes to be connected reasons, Lakoff also rejects truth conditional model-theoretic semantics for natural language. This paper examines an argument, given by Lakoff, against realism and MTS. (...) We claim that Lakoff's argument has very little, if any, impact for linguistic semantics. (shrink)
James B. Ashbrook's "new natural theology in an empirical mode" pursued an integrated understanding of the spiritual, psychological, and neurological dimensions of spiritual life. Knowledge of neuroscience and personality theory was central to his quest, and his understandings were necessarily revised and amplified as scientific findings emerged. As a result, Ashbrook's legacy may serve as a case example of how to do religion-and-science in a milieu of scientific change. The constant in the quest was Ashbrook's core belief in the (...) basic holism of brain, mind, personality, the nature of reality, and the underlying reality of God. (shrink)
Dōgen's views of time are descriptively compared to the modern western philosophical view called "B-theory" and found to contain elements of each of the four main tenets of the B-theory. Furthermore, a fundamental incongruency is discovered. Even accounting for traditional Buddhist approaches to apparent contradictions, Dōgen's problems in this regard call into question the assumption of consistency that has characterized modern interpretations of his views on time.
This second, more cohesive volume of Schutz's papers goes beyond the critical and inconclusive work of Volume I, to advance, not quite a theory, but certain postulates for the interpretation of social phenomena. Schutz contends that the social scientist, normally an impartial observer, must also assume the standpoint of the subject: he must ask what is the meaning and rationality of social action for the actor himself. From such a bi-polar perspective Schutz describes the situations of "The Stranger," "The (...) Homecomer," and "The Well-Informed Citizen." In the longest paper he analyzes the meaning of equality both for those who are and for those who are not equal. These papers are perceptive—the best in the volume.—A. B. D. (shrink)
The paper illustrates how organic chemists dramatically altered their practices in the middle part of the twentieth century through the adoption of analytical instrumentation — such as ultraviolet and infrared absorption spectroscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy — through which the difficult process of structure determination for small molecules became routine. Changes in practice were manifested in two ways: in the use of these instruments in the development of ‘rule-based’ theories; and in an increased focus on synthesis, at the expense (...) of chemical analysis. These rule-based theories took the form of generalizations relating structure to chemical and physical properties, as measured by instrumentation. This ‘Instrumental Revolution’ in organic chemistry was two-fold: encompassing an embrace of new tools that provided unprecedented access to structures, and a new way of thinking about molecules and their reactivity in terms of shape and structure. These practices suggest the possibility of a change in the ontological status of chemical structures, brought about by the regular use of instruments. The career of Robert Burns Woodward provides the central historical examples for the paper. Woodward was an organic chemist at Harvard from 1937 until the time of his death. In 1965, he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. (shrink)
This is a systematic and admirably clear exposition of a philosophical anthropology by the dean of Latin-American philosophers—it is nothing less than philosophy in the grand manner. Romero begins with a novel theory of intentionality. Intentional consciousness differentiates man from the lower animals. For this consciousness is originally an objectifying and cognitive awareness. From man's intentional consciousness Romero then traces the constitution of the self, a community, and spiritual consciousness. Basically, man is a duality of his intentional, aggressive consciousness (...) and his spiritual, disinterested consciousness; this duality is manifested in the phenomena of self-consciousness, sociability, historicity, and meaning. A greater part of the book is devoted to spirit, the essentially human element of man's being, and the cource[[sic]] of universality, unity, freedom, and value. There are many echoes of Heidegger, Scheler, Dilthey, Hartmann, and Husserl in Romero's work, but his system is an original synthesis of their different views.—A. B. D. (shrink)
This brief text assists students in understanding Rawls' philosophy and thinking so they can more fully engage in useful, intelligent class dialogue and improve their understanding of course content. Part of the Wadsworth Notes Series,, ON RAWLS is written by a philosopher deeply versed in the philosophy of this key thinker. Like other books in the series, this concise book offers sufficient insight into the thinking of a notable philosopher, better enabling students to engage in reading and to discuss the (...) material in class and on paper. (shrink)