Opponents of presentism have often argued that the presentist has difficulty in accounting for what makes true past-tensed propositions true in a way that is compatible with her metaphysical view of time and reality. The problem is quite general and concerns not only strong truth-maker principles, but also the requirement that truth be grounded in reality. In order to meet the challenge, presentists have proposed many peculiar present aspects of the world as grounds for truths concerning the past, such as (...) uninstantiated haecceities, Meinongian non-existents, ersatz times, and dispositional and distributional properties. The main problem with all such solutions is that any explanation of what grounds a TptP that involves the past is eo ipso a better explanation than any that involves only the present. Thus, the quest for an account of grounding for TptP that is compatible with the presentist ontology and ideology is doomed to be explanatorily deficient with respect to eternalism. In a recent article, Ben Caplan and David Sanson have claimed that presentists should change their strategy and, rather than seeking for exotic grounds for TptP, should adopt a more liberal view of explanation. That is, they should allow themselves to resort to “past directed” explanations, even if they do not accept the past in their ontology and ideology. I argue that such a proposal is not compatible with the tenet that there is a substantial distinction between the ideology of such a version of presentism and that of eternalism. Therefore, the presentist cannot endorse such “deflationist” explanations as an easy way out to the problem of the grounding of TptP. (shrink)
Sceptics about substantial disputes in ontology often argue that when two philosophers seem to disagree on a quantified claim, they are actually equivocating on the notion of existence that they are using. When temporal elements play a central role, as in the debate between presentists and eternalists, the hypothesis of an equivocation with respect to existence acquires more plausibility. However, the anti-sceptic can still argue that this hypothesis is unjustified.
The book is divided into three parts. The first, containing three papers, focuses on the characterization of the central tenets of previii sentism (by Neil McKinnon) and eternalism (by Samuel Baron and Kristie Miller), and on the ‘sceptical stance’ (by Ulrich Meyer), a view to the effect that there is no substantial difference between presentism and eternalism. The second and main section of the book contains three pairs of papers that bring the main problems with presentism to the fore and (...) outlines its defence strategy. Each pair of papers in this section can be read as a discussion between presentists and eternalists, wherein each directly responds to the arguments and objections offered by the other. This is a discussion that is sometimes absent in the literature, or which is at best carried out in a fragmented way. The first two papers of the section deal with the problem of the compatibility of Special Relativity Theory (SRT) and presentism. SRT is often considered to be a theory that contradicts the main tenet of presentism, thereby rendering presentism at odds with one of our most solid scientific theories. Christian Wüthrich’s paper presents arguments for the incompatibility of the two theories (SRT and presentism) within a new framework that includes a discussion of further complications arising from the theory of Qauantum Mechanics. Jonathan Lowe’s paper, by contrast, develops new general arguments against the incompatibility thesis and replies to Wüthrich’s paper. The second pair of papers focuses on the problem that presentists face, in providing grounds for past tensed truths. In the first (by Matthew Davidson), new arguments are provided to defend the idea that the presentist cannot adequately explain how what is now true about the past is grounded, since for the presentist the past is completely devoid of ontological ground. The second paper (by Brian Kierland) takes up the challenge of developing a presentist explanation of past truths, beginning by outlining some existing views in the literature before advancing an original proposal. (shrink)
I present a new problem for the tense realist concerning the evaluation of cross-temporal claims, such as ‘John is now taller than Michael was in 1984’. Time can play two different roles in the evaluation of an utterance of a sentence: either as an element that completes the content expressed by the utterance (the completion role), or as part of the circumstances against which the content is evaluated (the evaluation role). It is this latter role that time plays in the (...) realist view of tenses. I argue that if the content of a cross-temporal sentence is taken at face value (as an ascription of a crosstemporally instantiated relation), time does not play the evaluation role. Therefore, the world of the tense realist seems to leave no room for cross-temporality. (shrink)
There seems to be a minimal core that every theory wishing to accommodate the intuition that the future is open must contain: a denial of physical determinism (i.e. the thesis that what future states the universe will be in is implied by what states it has been in), and a denial of strong fatalism (i.e. the thesis that, at every time, what will subsequently be the case is metaphysically necessary).1 Those two requirements are often associated with the idea of an (...) objective temporal flow and the non-reality of the future. However, at least certain ways to frame the “openness” intuition do not rely on any of these. Branching Time Theory (BTT) is one such: it is compatible with the denial that time flow is objective and it is couched in a language with a (prima facie) commitment to an eternalist ontology. BTT, though, urges us to resist certain intuitions about the determinacy of future claims, which arguably do not lead either to physical determinism or to fatalism. Against BTT, supporters of the Thin Red Line Theory (TRL) argue that their position avoids determinism and fatalism, while also representing the fact that there is a future which is “special” because it is the one that will be the case. But starting with Belnap and Green 1994, some have objected to the tenability of TRL, mainly on metaphysical grounds. In particular, those argue that “positing a thin red line amounts to giving up objective indeterminism,”2 and that “has unacceptable consequences, ranging from a mistreatment of actuality to an inability to talk coherently about what would have happened had what is going to happen not taken place.”3 In this paper, we wish to reframe the.. (shrink)
we propose a revised version of Black's original argument against the principle of identity of indiscernibles. Our aim is to examine a puzzle regarding the intuitiveness of arguments, by showing that the revised version is clearly less intuitive than Black's original one, and appears to be unjustified by our ordinary means of assessment of intuitions.
Many philosophers regard collective behavior and attitudes as the ground of the whole of social reality. According to this popular view, society is composed basically of collective intentions and cooperative behaviors; this is so both for informal contexts involving small groups and for complex institutional structures. In this article, I challenge this view, and propose an alternative approach, which I term institutional externalism. I argue that institutions are characterized by the tendency to defer to elements that are external to the (...) content of collective intentions—such as laws, declarations, and contracts. According to institutional externalism, those elements are the grounds of institutional statutes, rights, and duties. (shrink)
Ostrich presentists maintain that we can use all the expressive resources of the tensed language to provide an explanation of why true claims about the past are true, without thereby paying any price in terms of ontology or basic ideology. I clarify the position by making a distinction between three kinds of explanation, which has general interest and applicability. I then criticize the ostrich position because it requires an unconstrained version of the third form of explanation, which is out of (...) place in metaphysics. (shrink)
Temporal aspects dwell both in the world around us and at the core of our experience of it. Reality, thought, and language all seem to be imbibed in temporality at some level or another. It is thus not surprising that philosophers who have to face the problems of understanding time have resorted to tools from different spheres of investigation, and often at the points of overlap of these areas. Metaphysics, philosophy of physics and science in general, philosophy of language, phenomenology, (...) philosophy of mind, the study of perception and cognition, but also anthropology, sociology, and history of culture, art, and ideas all contain theories and reflections that are crucial to our understanding and experience of time. Many recent debates in analytic philosophy have tackled in different ways the question of whether the sensation of the passage of time that seems to characterise our ordinary experience should be understood as reflecting some obje .. (shrink)
Every criminal act ought to be matched by a corresponding punishment, or so we may suppose, and every punishment ought to reflect a criminal act. We know how to count punishments. But how do we count crimes? In particular, how does our notion of a criminal action depend on whether the prohibited action is an activity, an accomplishment, an achievement, or a state?
In this paper I present a problem for the conventionalist regarding temporal metrics, and I defend an objectivist position on the ground of its explanatory force. Roughly, the conventionalist has it that there is no fact of the matter with respect to the truth or falsity of judgments of the kind “event e1 lasted as long as event e2”, while the objectivist thinks that they are grounded in objective features of space-time. I argue that, by positing grounds for judgments of (...) relative temporal length, the objectivist gains an explanatory force that the conventionalist position lacks. (shrink)
Achille Varzi è uno dei maggiori metafisici viventi. Nel corso degli anni ha scritto testi fondamentali di logica, metafisica, mereologia, filosofia del linguaggio. Ha sconfinato nella topologia, nella geografia, nella matematica, ha ragionato di mostri e confini, percezione e buchi, viaggi nel tempo, nicchie, eventi e ciambelle; e non ha disdegnato di dialogare con gli abitanti di Flatlandia, con Neo e con Terminator. Tra le sue opere principali: Holes and Other Superficialities e Parts and Places. The Structures of Spatial Representation, (...) entrambi scritti insieme a R. Casati per MIT Press; Il mondo messo a fuoco, Laterza; e il suo libro più recente: Le tribolazioni del filosofare, con C. Calosi, per Laterza. -/- Da una giornata all’Università di Urbino nasce questa conversazione a molte voci sulla e con la filosofia di Achille C. Varzi. In un dialogo critico al quale l’Autore si presta con generosità e onestà intellettuale, Andrea Borghini, Francesco Calemi, Claudio Calosi, Elena Casetta, Valeria Giardino, Pierluigi Graziani, Patrizia Pedrini, Daniele Santoro e Giuliano Torrengo lo interrogano e mettono alla prova sui temi affrontati, nel corso degli anni, in campi diversi. Il risultato è un percorso che si snoda attraverso molti mondi, dalla logica alla metafisica, dalla filosofia del linguaggio alla filosofia della matematica, dalla mereologia alla filosofia del tempo, spingendosi in qualche caso oltre i confini del saggio filosofico. (shrink)