There seems to be a "what it is like" to the experience of the flow of time in any conscious activity of ours. In this paper, I argue that the feeling that time passes should be understood as a phenomenal modifier of our mental life, in roughly the same way as the blurred or vivid nature of a visual experience can be seen as an element of the experience that modifies the way it feels, without representing the world as being (...) in a certain way. I defend my positions against the deflationary view according to which the passing of time does not have a specific phenomenal character, and the representationalist view according to which the feeling of time passing is a feature of the representational content of our experience, like being red or yellow. (shrink)
In this paper, we articulate a version of non-standard A-theory – which we call Flow Fragmentalism – in relation to its take on the issue of supervenience of truth on being. According to the Truth Supervenes on Being (TSB) Principle, the truth of past- and future-tensed propositions supervenes, respectively, on past and future facts. Since the standard presentist denies the existence of past and future entities and facts concerning them that do not obtain in the present, she seems to lack (...) the resources to accept both past and future-tensed truths and the TSB Principle. Contrariwise, positions in philosophy of time that accept an eternalist ontology (e.g., B-theory, moving spotlight, and Fine’s and Lipman’s versions of fragmentalism) allow for a “direct” supervenience base for past- and future-tensed truths. We argue that Flow Fragmentalism constitutes a middle ground, which retains most of the advantages of both views, and allows us to articulate a novel account of the passage of time. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to argue that the adoption of an unrestricted principle of bivalence is compatible with a metaphysics that (i) denies that the future is real, (ii) adopts nomological indeterminism, and (iii) exploits a branching structure to provide a semantics for future contingent claims. To this end, we elaborate what we call Flow Fragmentalism, a view inspired by Kit Fine (2005)’s non-standard tense realism, according to which reality is divided up into maximally coherent collections of tensed (...) facts. In this way, we show how to reconcile a genuinely A-theoretic branching-time model with the idea that there is a branch corresponding to the thin red line, that is, the branch that will turn out to be the actual future history of the world. (shrink)
Explanations of the genuine openness of the future often appeal to objective indeterminacy. According to the received view, such indeterminacy is indeterminacy of certain future-tensed state of affairs that presently obtain. We shall call this view the weak indeterminate present, to distinguish it from the view we will defend in this paper, which we dub the strong indeterminate present. According to our view, unsettledness of the future is grounded on the present indeterminacy of some present-tensed state of affairs. In order (...) for an indeterminate present-tensed state of affairs to explain the unsettledness of a future-tensed state of affairs, there has to be a connection between the two. We argue that this connection can only be provided if we look at the internal structure of the relevant state of affairs. Finally, we will suggest that the best background theory to explain the connection are the so-called spontaneous collapse models of quantum mechanics. (shrink)
It has been argued that quantum mechanics forces us to accept the existence of metaphysical, mind-independent indeterminacy. In this paper we provide an interpretation of the indeterminacy involved in the quantum phenomena in terms of a view that we call Plural Metaphysical Supervaluationism. According to it, quantum indeterminacy is captured in terms of an irreducibly plural relation between the actual world and various misrepresentations of it.
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)
The moving spotlight account (MS) is a view that combines an eternalist ontology and an A-theoretic metaphysics. The intuition underlying MS is that the present time is somehow privileged and experientially vivid, as if it were illuminated by a moving spotlight. According to MS-theorists, a key reason to prefer MS to B-theoretic eternalism is that our experience of time supports it. We argue that this is false. To this end, we formulate a new family of positions in the philosophy of (...) time, which differ from MS in that, intuitively, they admit a plurality of moving spotlights. We argue that these ‘deviant’ variants of MS cannot be dismissed as conceptually incoherent, and that they are as well-supported by our experience as is MS. One of these variants, however, is consistent with the B-theory. Thus, if our experience of time supports MS, then it supports the B-theory as well. (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)
In this paper, we discuss the inherent temporal orientation of fear, a matter on which philosophers seem to have contrasting opinions. According to some, fear is inherently present-oriented; others instead maintain that it is inherently future-oriented or that it has no inherent temporal orientation at all. Despite the differences, however, all these views seem to understand fear’s temporal orientation as one-dimensional—that is, as uniquely determined by the represented temporal location of the intentional object of fear. By contrast, we present a (...) view that introduces a two-dimensional account of fear’s temporal orientation. On such a view, we can say that fear is inherently future-oriented, independently of its being about something in the present or in the future. (shrink)
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)
A widespread (and often tacit) assumption is that fear is an anticipatory emotion and, as such, inherently future-oriented. Prima facie, such an assumption is threatened by cases where we seem to be afraid of things in the past: if it is possible to fear the past, then fear entertains no special relation with the future—or so some have argued. This seems to force us to choose between an account of fear as an anticipatory emotion (supported by pre-theoretical intuitions as well (...) as empirical research in psychology) and admitting cases of past-oriented fear. In this paper, we argue for a proposal that dissolves this dilemma. Our claim is: with the right account in place, the future-orientation of fear can be made compatible with, and is actually explanatory of, cases where we are genuinely afraid of something in the past. So, there is no need to choose: fear is still future-oriented, even when we are genuinely afraid of things in the past. The key is a correct understanding of what fear’s temporal orientation amounts to, and the framework we offer here provides us with such an understanding. (shrink)
The analysis of the derogatory aspect of slurs has recently aroused interest among philosophers of language. A puzzling element of it is its erratic behaviour in embeddings, for instance negation or belief reports. The derogatory aspect seems sometimes to “scope out” from the embedding to the context of utterance, while at other times it seems to interact with the linguistic constructions in which the slur is implanted. I argue that slurs force us to maintain a kind of semantic indeterminacy which, (...) to my knowledge, has passed largely unnoticed in philosophy of language. (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.
As far as our experience goes, we live in a dynamic present. Those two phenomenal features of experience—presentness and dynamism—are obviously connected. However, how they are connected is not obvious at all. In this paper, I criticise the view according to which the former can explain the latter, which I call sophisticated representationalism. My criticism will be based on an ambiguity in the notion of tense found in the philosophical literature, that between the perspectival understanding and the dynamic understanding of (...) tenses. The distinction is not just of independent interest, but it has a role in providing indirect evidence for the claim that the feeling of passage of time should be understood in non-representationalist terms. (shrink)
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)
The goal of this paper is to defend the general tenet that time travelers cannot change the past within B-theoretical models of time, independently of how many temporal dimensions there are. Baron Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 98, 129–147 offered a strong argument intended to reach this general conclusion. However, his argument does not cover a peculiar case, i.e. a B-theoretical one-dimensional model of time that allows for the presence of internal times. Loss Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 96, 1–11 used the latter model (...) to argue that time travelers can change the past within such model. We show a way to debunk Loss’s argument, so that the general tenet about the impossibility of changing the past within B-theoretical models is maintained. (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)
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)
When we cook, by meticulously following a recipe, or adding a personal twist to it, we sometimes care not only to (re-)produce a taste that we can enjoy, but also to give our food a certain aftertaste. This is not surprising, given that we ordinarily take aftertaste to be an important part of the gustatory experience as a whole, one which we seek out, and through which we evaluate what we eat and drink—at least in many cases. What is surprising (...) is that aftertastes, from a psychological point of view, seem to be analogous to afterimages, and thus have little or no epistemic import. In this paper we tackle this puzzle, and argue that we are right in treating aftertastes seriously. The moral is that both from a metaphysical and an epistemic point of view aftertastes should be categorized differently from afterimages. (shrink)
Scopo del volume è offrire un’introduzione accessibile e rigorosa ai più recenti sviluppi di una fondamentale branca della filosofia del tempo: la filosofia del futuro. Vengono presentate e discusse alcune delle domande chiave del dibattito contemporaneo, ad esempio: il futuro è già scritto o esistono molti cammini alternativi che il tempo è in grado di imboccare? "Esistere" significa semplicemente essere presenti o ci sono veri e propri oggetti futuri? Siamo davvero liberi di scegliere quali azioni compiere e di modificare il (...) corso degli eventi? Il dibattito intorno alle risposte di volta in volta offerte in filosofia esplora un’intrigante zona d’intersezione tra metafisica, logica ed etica, e interessa discipline diverse, come la fisica, la psicologia e l’economia. Non sorprende dunque che la discussione contemporanea sia oramai tanto intricata da risultare ostica ai non addetti ai lavori. Il volume offre gli strumenti necessari per inquadrare le domande sul futuro nella loro reale complessità concettuale, introducendo tutte le indispensabili nozioni tecniche in un linguaggio chiaro e intuitivo. (shrink)
In this paper, I present a problem for the realist with respect to the institutional sphere, and suggest a solution. Roughly, the problem lies in a contradiction that arises as soon as institutional contexts are allowed to influence the institutional profile of objects and events not only in the present, but also in the past. If such “retroactive enactments” are effective, in order to avoid contradiction the realist seems to have to accept the unpleasant conclusion that institutions can create a (...) past that has never been present. I will defend a solution which involves a distinction between temporal and atemporal types of institutional kinds that has, I maintain, independent interest. (shrink)
Even hard-core metaphysicians should admit that certain disputesmay indeed turn out not tobe substantive. The debate between presentism and eternalism has recently come undersceptical attack. The aim of the paper is to argue that a certain approach to presentism is indeedin danger of succumbing to the sceptic, and thus a no-go for the presentist.
I criticize Lockwood’s solution to the “paradoxes” of time travel, thus endorsing Lewis’s more conservative position. Lockwood argues that only in the context of a 5D space-time-actuality manifold is the possibility of time travel compatible with the Autonomy Principle. I argue that shifting from 4D space-time to 5D space-time-actuality does not change the situation with respect to the Autonomy Principle, since the shift does not allow us to have a coincidence-free local dynamical theory.
The idea that the present moment is in some sense experientially privileged has been used in various arguments from presentness in favour of the existence of an objective present. Roughly speaking, in the literature we find two different approaches. Either by having an experience of something present we are aware of it as present, or by having an experience located in the present we are aware of our experience as present. While the various ways of understanding presentness can be used (...) to formulate different arguments in favour of the existence of an objective present, none of them is ultimately tenable. Eventually, our conclusions will suggest that eliminativism is the best attitude towards presentness. (shrink)
This paper introduces a new kind of explanation that we describe as ‘purely theoretical’. We first present an example, E, of what we take to be a case of purely theoretical explanation. We then show that the explanation we have in mind does not fit neatly into any of the existing categories of explanation. We take this to give us prima facie motivation for thinking that purely theoretical explanation is a distinctive kind of explanation. We then argue that it can (...) earn its keep via application to two existing literatures: the literature on how we explain the truth of true negative existential propositions and the literature on how we explain the truth of true propositions about the past. We reply to some possible concerns regarding the introduction of purely theoretical explanations. We conclude that there is nothing obviously wrong with them and explore the ramifications for particular debates in metaphysics. (shrink)
In this paper we discuss two issues addressed by Stanley in How Propaganda Works: the status of slurs (Section 1) and the notion of positive propaganda (Section 2). In particular, in Section 1 we argue contra Stanley that code words like ‘welfare’ are crucially different from slurs in that the association between the lexical item and an additional social meaning is not as systematic as it is for slurs. In this sense, slurs bring about a special kind of propagandistic effect, (...) even if it typically concerns informal contexts rather than public debates. In Section 2, we consider positive propaganda and its relation to emotional effects. For Stanley, positive propaganda relies on the production of emotional effects, feature which risks to erode rational debates even if there is a good purpose behind. Instead, we argue that positive propaganda can work with no appeal to emotions. To this end, we focus on the use of ‘she’ as the default personal pronoun in academic writing and suggest that this measure can count as positive propaganda which rather than eroding rational debates by relying on emotional effects, closely resembles affirmative action aimed at counterbalance a pre-existing form of injustice and inequality. (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?
I argue that, contrary to an idea to be found in popularizations of time travel, one cannot more easily multiply oneself by taking younger versions of oneself back in time than by travelling back in time on one’s own. The reason is that the suggested multiplication of the traveller is, from a global perspective, only apparent.
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)
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.
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)
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)
In this book, we develop a fragmentalist theory of time, which we call Flow Fragmentalism, and then explore its ramifications in a number of philosophical topics. In Chapter 1, after presenting the view, we argue that it offers an explanation of the passage of time that is unavailable to standard tense realism, and it is thus more effective than the latter in vindicating the inherent dynamism of reality. Chapter 2 presents a branching-time version of Flow Fragmentalism, in which a genuine (...) form of openness of the future is vindicated. We argue that the view retains all the benefits of what we call ontological and topological openness. In Chapter 3, we provide a fragmentalist theory of causation, comparing and contrasting it with Humean reductionism about laws of nature. Chapter 4 develops a relativistic version of Flow Fragmentalism and then discusses its advantages over Fine’s version. Chapter 5 concludes the book by discussing how to understand time travel within the flow fragmentalist framework. (shrink)