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 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. 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)
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)
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)
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)
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 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.
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)
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.
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)
Introduction. The roots of liberal-democratic theory -- Problems of interpretation -- Hobbe : the political obligation of the market. Philosophy and political theory -- Human nature and the state of nature -- Models of society -- Political obligation -- Penetration and limits of Hobbe's political theory -- The Levellers : franchise and freedom. The problem of franchise -- Types of franchise -- The record -- Theoretical implications -- Harrington : the opportunity state. Unexamined ambiguities -- The balance (...) and the gentry -- The bourgeois society -- The equal commonwealth and the equal agrarian -- The self-cancelling balance principle -- Harrington's stature --Locke : the political theory of appropriation. Interpretations -- The theory of property right -- Class differentials in natural rights and rationality -- The ambiguous state of nature -- The ambiguous civil society -- Unsettled problems reconsidered -- Possessive individualism and liberal democracy. The seventeenth-century foundations -- The twentieth-century dilemma -- Appendix : Social classes and franchise classes in England, circa 1648. (shrink)
The goal of this book is to develop a new framework for thinking about what moral character looks like today. My central claim will be that most people have moral character traits, but at the same time they do not have either the traditional ...
This seminal work by political philosopher C.B. Macpherson was first published by the Clarendon Press in 1962, and remains of key importance to the study of liberal-democratic theory half-a-century later. In it, Macpherson argues that the chief difficulty of the notion of individualism that underpins classical liberalism lies in what he calls its "possessive quality" - "its conception of the individual as essentially the proprietor of his own person or capacities, owing nothing to society for them." Under such a (...) conception, the essence of humanity becomes freedom from dependence on the wills of others; society is little more than a system of economic relations; and political society becomes a means of safeguarding private property and the system of economic relations rooted in property. As the New Statesman declared: "It is rare for a book to change the intellectual landscape. It is even more unusual for this to happen when the subject is one that has been thoroughly investigated by generations of historians.... Until the appearance of Professor Macpherson's book, it seemed unlikely that anything radically new could be said about so well-worn a topic. The unexpected has happened, and the shock waves are still being absorbed." A new introduction by Frank Cunningham puts the work in a twenty-first-century context. (shrink)
A uniform theory of conditionals is one which compositionally captures the behavior of both indicative and subjunctive conditionals without positing ambiguities. This paper raises new problems for the closest thing to a uniform analysis in the literature (Stalnaker, Philosophia, 5, 269–286 (1975)) and develops a new theory which solves them. I also show that this new analysis provides an improved treatment of three phenomena (the import-export equivalence, reverse Sobel-sequences and disjunctive antecedents). While these results concern central issues in (...) the study of conditionals, broader themes in the philosophy of language and formal semantics are also engaged here. This new analysis exploits a dynamic conception of meaning where the meaning of a symbol is its potential to change an agent’s mental state (or the state of a conversation) rather than being the symbol’s content (e.g. the proposition it expresses). The analysis of conditionals is also built on the idea that the contrast between subjunctive and indicative conditionals parallels a contrast between revising and consistently extending some body of information. (shrink)
Is there a limit to the legitimate demands of morality? In particular, is there a limit to people's responsibility to promote the well-being of others, either directly or via social institutions? Utilitarianism admits no such limit, and is for that reason often said to be an unacceptably demanding moral and political view. In this original new study, Murphy argues that the charge of excessive demands amounts to little more than an affirmation of the status quo. The real problem with utilitarianism (...) is that it makes unfair demands on people who comply with it in our world of nonideal compliance. Murphy shows that this unfairness does not arise on a collective understanding of our responsibility for others' well being. Thus, according to Murphy, while there is no general problem to be raised about the extent of moral demands, there is a pressing need to acknowledge the collective nature of the demands of beneficence. (shrink)
Kant's theory of punishment is commonly regarded as purely retributive in nature, and indeed much of his discourse seems to support that interpretation. Still, it leaves one with certain misgivings regarding the internal consistency of his position. Perhaps the problem lies not in Kant's inconsistency nor in the senility sometimes claimed to be apparent in the Metaphysic of Morals, but rather in a superimposed, modern yet monistic view of punishment. Historical considerations tend to show that Kant was discussing not (...) one, but rather two facets of punishment, each independent but nevertheless mutually restrictive. Punishment as a threat was intended to deter crime. It was a tool in the hands of civil society to counteract human drives toward violating another's rights. In its execution, however, the state was limited in its reaction by a retributive theory of justice demanding respect for the individual as an end and not as a means to some further social goal. This interpretation of Kant's theory of punishment maintains consistency from the earliest through the latest of his writings on moral, legal, and political philosophy. It provides a good reason for rejecting current economic analyses of crime and punishment. Most important of all, it credits Kant's theory in its clear recognition of the ideals intrinsic to libertarian government. (shrink)
An approach to argument macrostructure -- The dialectical nature of argument -- Toulmin's problematic notion of warrant -- The linked-convergent distinction, a first approximation -- Argument structure and disciplinary perspective : the linked-convergent versus multiple-co-ordinatively compound distinctions -- The linked-convergent distinction, refining the criterion -- Argument structure and enthymemes -- From analysis to evaluation.
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)
According to probabilistic theories of reasoning in psychology, people's degree of belief in an indicative conditional `if A, then B' is given by the conditional probability, P(B|A). The role of language pragmatics is relatively unexplored in the new probabilistic paradigm. We investigated how consequent relevance a ects participants' degrees of belief in conditionals about a randomly chosen card. The set of events referred to by the consequent was either a strict superset or a strict subset of the set of events (...) referred to by the antecedent. We manipulated whether the superset was expressed using a disjunction or a hypernym. We also manipulated the source of the dependency, whether in long-term memory or in the stimulus. For subset-consequent conditionals, patterns of responses were mostly conditional probability followed by conjunction. For superset-consequent conditionals, conditional probability responses were most common for hypernym dependencies and least common for disjunction dependencies, which were replaced with responses indicating inferred consequent irrelevance. Conditional probability responses were also more common for knowledge-based than stimulus-based dependencies. We suggest. (shrink)
David Annis is professor of philosophy at Ball State University. In this essay, Annis offers an alternative to the foundationalist-coherent controversy: "contextualism." This theory rejects both the idea of intrinsically basic beliefs in the foundational sense and the thesis that coherence is sufficient for justification. he argues that justification is relative to the varying norms of social practices.