Presentists, who believe that only present objects exist, face a problem concerning truths about the past. Presentists should (but cannot) locate truth-makers for truths about the past. What can presentists say in response? We identify two rival factions ‘upstanding’ and ‘nefarious’ presentists. Upstanding presentists aim to meet the challenge, positing presently existing truth-makers for truths about the past; nefarious presentists aim to shirk their responsibilities, using the language of truth-maker theory but without paying any ontological price. We argue that presentists (...) should be nefarious presentists. (shrink)
Three plausible views—Presentism, Truthmaking, and Independence—form an inconsistent triad. By Presentism, all being is present being. By Truthmaking, all truth supervenes on, and is explained in terms of, being. By Independence, some past truths do not supervene on, or are not explained in terms of, present being. We survey and assess some responses to this.
Presentism is the doctrine that only the present is real. Since ordinary talk and thought are full of quantification over non-present objects, presentists are in a familiar predicament: in their unreflective moments they apparently commit themselves to far more than their ontological scruples allow. A familiar response is to begin a project of paraphrase. Truths appearing to quantify over problematic entities are shown, on analysis, to not involve quantification over those entities after all. But I think that we might (...) be better off abandoning paraphrase altogether. I suggest a project of discovering “underlying truths” rather than paraphrases. I will explore this strategy as applied to defending presentism, but my hope is that lovers of desert landscapes everywhere will herein find words of comfort. (shrink)
Perdurantists think of continuants as mereological sums of stages from different times. This view of persistence would force us to drop the idea that there is genuine change in the world. By exploiting a presentist metaphysics, Brogaard proposed a theory, called presentist four-dimensionalism, that aims to reconcile perdurantism with the idea that things undergo real change. However, her proposal commits us to reject the idea that stages must exist in their entirety. Giving up the tenet that all the stages are (...) equally real could be a price that perdurantists are unwilling to pay. I argue that Kit Fine ’s fragmentalism provides us with the tools to combine a presentist metaphysics with a perdurantist theory of persistence without giving up the idea that reality is constituted by more than purely present stages. (shrink)
Here, I defend the view that there is no sensible way to pin a truth-maker objection on presentism. First, I suggest that if we adopt truth-maker maximalism then the presentist can requisition appropriate ontological resources with impunity. Second, if we deny maximalism, then the presentist can sensibly restrict the truth-maker principle in order to avoid the demand for truth-makers for talk about the non-present.
In this critical notice we argue against William Craig's recent attempt to reconcile presentism (roughly, the view that only the present is real) with relativity theory. Craig's defense of his position boils down to endorsing a ‘neo-Lorentzian interpretation’ of special relativity. We contend that his reconstruction of Lorentz's theory and its historical development is fatally flawed and that his arguments for reviving this theory fail on many counts. 1 Rival theories of time 2 Relativity and the present 3 Special (...) relativity: one theory, three interpretations 4 Theories of principle and constructive theories 5 The relativity interpretation: explanatorily deficient? 6 The relativity interpretation: ontologically fragmented? 7 The space-time interpretation: does God need a preferred frame of reference? 8 The neo-Lorentzian interpretation: at what price? 9 The neo-Lorentzian interpretation: with what payoff? 10 Why we should prefer the space-time interpretation over the neo-Lorentzian interpretation 11 What about general relativity? 12 Squaring the tenseless space-time interpretation with our tensed experience. (shrink)
Presentism is usually understood as the thesis that only the present exists whereas the rival theory of eternalism is usually understood as the thesis that past, present, and future things are all equally real. The significance of this debate has been threatened by the so-called triviality objection, which allegedly shows that the presentist thesis is either trivially true or obviously false: Presentism is trivially true if it is read as saying that everything that exists now is present, and (...) it is obviously false if read as saying that everything that has existed, exits or will exist is present. If eternalism is taken as the negation of presentism, it is also either trivially false or obviously true. In this paper, I try to respond to the triviality objection on behalf of presentism. In second section, I will examine how the argument proceeds. In third section, I will reflect on three possible ways to respond but will argue that none of them succeeds in giving a satisfactory solution. I will then try to clarify the core idea of presentism and to suggest that if we characterise presentism accurately, the problem will disappear. In fourth section, I will offer a plausible definition of presentism and will show how it can avoid the triviality objection and demonstrate why it is advantageous to accept the version of presentism I offer. (shrink)
The distinction between presentism and eternalism is usually sought in some formula like ‘Only presently existing things exist’ or ‘Past, present, and future events are equally real’. I argue that ambiguities in the copula prevent these slogans from distinguishing significant opposed positions. I suggest in addition that one can find a series of significant distinctions if one takes spacetime structure into account. These presentisms and eternalisms are not contradictory. They are complementary elements of a complete naturalistic philosophy of time.
Thisness Presentism outlines and defends a novel version of presentism, the view that only present entities exist and what is present really changes. Presentism is a view of time that captures a real and objective difference between what is past, present, and future, and which offers a model of reality that is dynamic and mutable, rather than static and immutable. The book advances a new defence of presentism by developing a novel ontology of thisness, combining insights (...) about the nature of essence, the metaphysics of propositions, and the relationship between true propositions and the elements of reality that make them true, alongside insights about time itself. It shows how, by accepting an ontology of thisness, presentists can respond to a number of pressing challenges to presentism, including claims that presentism cannot account for true propositions about the past, and that it is inconsistent with the reality of temporal passage and the openness of the future. This is one of the only book-length defences of presentism. It will be of interest to students and scholars working on the debate about presentism in the philosophy of time, as well as those interested in the metaphysics of propositions and truth-making, more generally. (shrink)
This paper has three main sections. The first section provides a general characterisation of presentism, eternalism and growing blockism. It presents a pair of core, defining claims that jointly capture each of these three views. This makes clear the respects in which the different views agree, and the respects in which they disagree, about the nature of time. The second section takes these characterisations and considers whether we really do have three distinct views, or whether defenders of these views (...) are somehow talking past one another when they claim to disagree. The third section looks at the key objections to each view and considers some of the replies that can be made to those objections. The paper concludes by offering some thoughts about how future research might help us resolve the debate between defenders of these three views. (shrink)
Many philosophers believe that truth is grounded: True propositions depend for their truth on the world. Some philosophers believe that truth’s grounding has implications for our ontology of time. If truth is grounded, then truth supervenes on being. But if truth supervenes on being, then presentism is false since, on presentism, e.g., that there were dinosaurs fails to supervene on the whole of being plus the instantiation pattern of properties and relations. Call this the grounding argument against (...) class='Hi'>presentism. Many presentists claim that the grounding argument fails because, despite appearances, supervenience is compatible with presentism. In this paper, I claim that the grounding argument fails because, despite appearances, truth’s grounding gives the presentist no compelling reason to adopt the sort of supervenience principle at work in the grounding argument. I begin by giving two precisifications of the grounding principle: truthmaking and supervenience. In Sect. 2, I give the grounding argument against presentism. In Sect. 3, I argue that we should distinguish between eternalist and presentist notions of grounding; once this distinction is in hand, the grounding argument is undercut. In Sect. 4, I show how the presentist’s notion of grounding leads to presentist-friendly truthmaking and supervenience principles. In Sect. 5, I address some potential objections. (shrink)
The truthmaker objection to presentism (the view that only what exists now exists simpliciter) is that it lacks sufficient metaphysical resources to ground truths about the past. In this paper I identify five constraints that an adequate presentist response must satisfy. In light of these constraints, I examine and reject responses by Bigelow, Keller, Crisp, and Bourne. Consideration of how these responses fail, however, points toward a proposal that works; one that posits God’s memories as truthmakers for truths about (...) the past. I conclude that presentists have, in the truthmaker objection, considerable incentive to endorse theism. (shrink)
Presentism is the view that only present entities exist. Recently, several authors have asked the question whether presentism is able to account for cross-time relations, i.e., roughly, relations between entities existing at different times. In this paper I claim that this question is to be answered in the affirmative. To make this claim plausible, I consider four types of cross-time relation and show how each can be accommodated without difficulty within the metaphysical framework of presentism.
Next SectionIn this article I offer a new version of presentism and argue that this new version of presentism is not a species of the A-theory. Along the way, I argue that Rasmussen’s recent attempt to articulate a version of presentism that is not also a version of the A-theory does not succeed.
This paper argues that recent arguments to the effect that the debate between presentism and eternalism lacks any metaphysical substance ultimately fail, although important lessons can be gleaned from them in how to formulate a non-vacuous version of presentism. It suggests that presentism can best be characterized in the context of spacetime theories. The resulting position is an ersatzist version of presentism that admits merely non-present entities as abstracta deprived of physical existence. Ersatzist presentism both (...) escapes the charges of triviality and promises to offer a route to solving the grounding problem which befalls its more traditional cousins. (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)
Presentism is, roughly, the metaphysical doctrine that maintains that whatever exists, exists in the present. The compatibility of presentism with the theories of special and general relativity was much debated in recent years. It has been argued that at least some versions of presentism are consistent with time-orientable models of general relativity. In this paper we confront the thesis of presentism with relativistic physics, in the strong gravitational limit where black holes are formed. We conclude that (...) the presentist position is at odds with the existence of black holes and other compact objects in the universe. A revision of the thesis is necessary, if it is intended to be consistent with the current scientific view of the universe. (shrink)
Presentism is held by most to be the intuitive theory of time, due in large part to the view's supposed preservation of time's passage. In this paper, I strike a blow against presentism's intuitive pull by showing how the presentist, contrary to overwhelming popular belief, is unable to establish temporal change upon which the passage of time is based. I begin by arguing that the presentist's two central ontological commitments, the Present Thesis and the Change Thesis, are incompatible. (...) The main problem is that satisfying the Change Thesis to establish passage requires the existence of more than one moment. This conflicts with the Present Thesis that only the present moment exists. The presentist's response is to appeal to surrogates to stand proxy for the past, so as to account for the difference between what does exist and what did exist. I argue that, for this surrogate strategy to be successful, the proposed surrogates must track what actually happened. I demonstrate that there is no guarantee that t.. (shrink)
We argue that presentism, understood as a view about time and existence, can perspicuously be defined in opposition to all other familiar contenders without appeal to any notion of presentness or cognate notions such as concreteness. Given recent worries about the suitability of such notions to cut much metaphysical ice, this should be welcomed by presentism's defenders. We also show that, irrespective of its sparse ideology, the proposed formulation forestalls any deviant interpretation at odds with the view it (...) aims to capture. (shrink)
The presentist view of time is psychologically appealing. I argue that, ironically, contingent facts about the temporal properties of consciousness are very difficult to square with presentism unless some form of mind/body dualism is embraced.
We lay out the fatalist’s argument, making sure to clarify which dialectical moves are available to the libertarian. We then offer a more robust presentation of Ockhamism, responding to obvious objections and teasing out the implications of the view. At this point, we discuss presentism and eternalism in more detail. We then present our argument for the claim that the libertarian cannot take Ockham’s way out of the fatalism argument unless she rejects presentism. Finally, we consider and dispense (...) with objections to our argument. In the end, it ought to be clear that the libertarian must make a choice between Ockham’s way out and presentism. (shrink)
This paper defends three theses: that presentism is either trivial or untenable; that the debate between tensed and tenseless theories of time is not about the status of presentism; and that there is no temporal analogue of the modal thesis of actualism.
Here I examine some recent attempts to provide a new way of thinking about the philosophy of time that question the central role of ‘presentness’ within the definition of presentism. The central concern raised by these critics turns on the intelligibility and theoretical usefulness of the term ‘is present’. My overarching aim is to at least challenge such concerns. I begin with arguments due to Deasy. Deasy develops a view that he calls ‘transientism’ and that he takes to be (...) a well-motivated version of presentism. I show that both this way of thinking about presentism and the argument supposedly motivating it all fail. I then move to an argument due to Correia and Rosenkrantz. Correia and Rosenkrantz purport to show that presentism can be salvaged without making recourse to the term ‘is present’. I demonstrate that their arguments fail. I then move on to a view, proposed and defended by Merricks, Tallant, and Zimmerman, and show that it has the wherewithal to meet the challenges raised by Williamson who, as noted above, raises genuine concerns about our capacity to define presentism. (shrink)
In this paper, we show that presentism -- the view that the way things are is the way things presently are -- is not undermined by the objection from being-supervenience. This objection claims, roughly, that presentism has trouble accounting for the truth-value of past-tense claims. Our demonstration amounts to the articulation and defence of a novel version of presentism. This is brute past presentism, according to which the truth-value of past-tense claims is determined by the past (...) understood as a fundamental aspect of reality different from things and how things are. (shrink)
One of the major difficulties facing presentism is the problem of causation. In this paper, I propose a new solution to that problem, one that is compatible with intrinsic, fundamental causal relations. Accommodating relations of this kind is important because (i) according to David Lewis (2004), such relations are needed to account for causation in our world and worlds relevantly similar to our own, (ii) there is no other strategy currently available that successfully reconciles presentism with relations of (...) this kind and (iii) resolving the problem of causation by accommodating intrinsic, fundamental causal relations provides the presentist with a far more general solution to the problem of causation than those currently on offer. (shrink)
In this paper I will consider a number of responses to the grounding problem for presentism. I don’t think that the grounding problem is a damning problem for the presentist (it seems to me that presentism has much more serious problems with cross-time relations and relativity). But each of the solutions comes at a cost, and some are much pricier than others. I will set out what I take these costs to be when I examine each response to (...) the grounding problem. (shrink)
Different versions of the A-theory of time are traditionally defined in terms of whether everything is present, or whether there are also past and future things. In this paper I argue that the traditional way of defining A-theories should be abandoned. I focus on the traditional definition of presentism, according to which always, everything is present. First, I argue that there are good reasons to reject all the most plausible interpretations of the predicate ‘is present’ as it appears in (...) the traditional definition of presentism. It follows that there are also good reasons to reject the most plausible interpretations of the traditional definitions of the other A-theories. I then argue that there is a better way of defining the A-theories, in terms of the question of whether existence has a beginning and an end. Finally, I argue that what goes for the traditional definition of presentism goes for the traditional definition of its modal analogue actualism, according to which necessarily, everything is actual : there are good reasons to reject the traditional definition of actualism in favour of a definition in terms of contingent existence. (shrink)
Ross Cameron proposes to reconcile presentism and truth-maker theory by invoking temporal distributional properties, instantiated by present entities, as the truth-makers for truths about the past. This chapter argues that Cameron's proposal fails because objects can change which temporal distributional properties they instantiate and this entails that the truth-values of truths about the past can change in an objectionable way.
Abstract: Presentism is the view that whatever exists presently exists. Without defending Presentism, I argue first that Presentists should be Time-Free Presentists – Presentists whose views do not imply that there exist irreducible times. Second, I argue that Presentists should accept Limited Thick Presentism, the view that 'the present' has some extension and is thereby neither durationlessly thin nor unlimitedly 'thick'. Third, before addressing several objections to Limited Time-Free Thick Presentism [LTFTP], I argue that defenders of (...) LTFTP should accept that 'temporal becoming' involves an overlapping succession of present entities, not a 'skipping' from one set of present entities to the next discrete set. (shrink)
This essay offers a reaction to the recent resurgence of presentism in the philosophy of time. What is of particular interest in this renaissance is that a number of recent arguments supporting presentism are crafted in an untypically naturalistic vein, breathing new life into a metaphysics of time with a bad track record of co-habitation with modern physics. Against this trend, the present essay argues that the pressure on presentism exerted by special relativity and its core lesson (...) of Lorentz symmetry cannot easily be shirked. A categorization of presentist responses to this pressure is offered. As a case in point, I analyze a recent argument by Monton (2006) presenting a case for the compatibility of presentism with quantum gravity. Monton claims that this compatibility arises because there are quantum theories of gravity that use fixed foliations of spacetime and that such fixed foliations provide a natural home for a metaphysically robust notion of the present. A careful analysis leaves Monton's argument wanting. In sum, the prospects of presentism to be alleviated from the stress applied by fundamental physics are faint. (shrink)
If _presentism_ is true, then no wholly non-present events exist. If _absence orthodoxy_ is true, then no absences exist. I discuss a well-known causal argument against presentism, and develop a very similar argument against absence orthodoxy. I argue that solutions to the argument against absence orthodoxy can be adopted by the presentist as solutions to the argument against presentism. The upshot is that if the argument against absence orthodoxy fails, then so does the argument against presentism.
In this critical notice we argue against William Craig's recent attempt to reconcile presentism (roughly, the view that only the present is real) with relativity theory. Craig's defense of his position boils down to endorsing a 'neo-Lorentzian interpretation' of special relativity. We contend that his reconstruction of Lorentz's theory and its historical development is fatally flawed and that his arguments for reviving this theory fail on many counts.
According to the presentist the present time is the only one that there is. Nevertheless, things persist. Most presentists think that things persist by enduring. Employing E. J. Lowe’s notion of identity-dependence, Jonathan Tallant argues that presentism is incompatible with any notion of persistence, even endurance. This consequence of Lowe’s ideas, if soundly drawn, is important. The presentist who chooses to deny persistence outright is a desperate figure. However, though Lowe’s notion is a legitimate and worthwhile one, this application (...) is faulty. The incompatibility of presentism and persistence is not part of Lowe’s heritage. A positive conclusion can be drawn. A form of persistence is compatible with presentism. It is one on which persistence is defined in tensed terms using an adverbial tense operator: x persists iff x exists and existed or will exist. Unsurprisingly, so understood persistence is endurance. The commonly held view is correct. (shrink)
Presentists have typically argued that the Block View is incapable of explaining our experience of time. In this paper I argue that the phenomenology of our experience of time is, on the contrary, against presentism. My argument is based on a dilemma: presentists must either assume that the metaphysical present has no temporal extension, or that it is temporally extended. The former horn leads to phenomenological problems. The latter renders presentism metaphysically incoherent, unless one posits a discrete present (...) that, however, suffers from the same difficulties that the instantaneous present is prone to. After introducing the main phenomenological models of our experience of time that are discussed in the literature, I show that none of them favors presentism. I conclude by arguing that if even the phenomenology of time sides against presentism, the latter metaphysical theory has no scientific evidence in its favor and ought to be dropped. (shrink)
Truthmaker theory is commonly thought to pose a challenge for presentism. Presentism seems to lack the ontological and ideological resources required to adequately underwrite the truth of propositions concerning the past. That is because if presentism is true, then the past does not exist. According to the standard response to this challenge, the truth of propositions concerning the past supervenes on surrogate entities that ‘stand proxy’ for past things. I argue that in order for the standard response (...) to the truthmaker challenge to succeed these surrogate entities must stand in necessary connections to the past. I go on to argue that because the standard response is already committed to denying the existence of cross-temporal modal connections of this kind, by its own lights that response is in error.1. (shrink)
The main claim that I want to defend in this paper is that the there are logical equivalences between eternalism and perdurantism on the one hand and presentism and endurantism on the other. By “logical equivalence” I mean that one position is entailed and entails the other. As a consequence of this equivalence, it becomes important to inquire into the question whether the dispute between endurantists and perdurantists is authentic, given that Savitt (2006) Dolev (2006) and Dorato (2006) have (...) cast doubts on the fact that the debate between presentism and eternalism is about “what there is”. In this respect, I will conclude that also the debate about persistence in time has no ontological consequences, in the sense that there is no real ontological disagreement between the two allegedly opposite positions: as in the case of the presentism/eternalism debate, one can be both a perdurantist and an endurantist, depending on which linguistic framework is preferred. (shrink)
Abstract- Presentism And Temporal Experience Intuitively, we all believe that we experience change and the passage of time. Presentism prides itself as the most intuitive theory of time. However, a closer look at how we would experience temporality if presentism was true reveals that this is far from obvious. For if presentism was really so intuitive, then it would do justice to these intuitions. In the course of this article I examine how presentism fares when (...) combined with various leading theories of perception and temporal perception. I focused on two Central Questions. Can presentism, given theory X, account for experiences of change and duration? And can presentism, given theory X, account for experiences of time as passing? I argue that there is no possible combination which allows for an experience of time as passing. This result alone undermines the alleged intuitive advantage of presentism and with it the motivation for the view. Presentism, it remains safe to say, is not as intuitive a theory as its adherents like to portray it. (shrink)
This paper explores what could justify some intuitive temporal asymmetries regarding redemption and the distribution of ills and goods throughout an agent's lifespan. After exposing the inadequacies of causal explanations – based on our differential ability to affect the future, but not the past – a metaphysical explanation is outlined in relation to three competing temporal-ontological profiles of agents, and their varying accounts of a being's development. Only one of those conceptions of agents – supported by Presentism, the thesis (...) that everything is present – offers an account justifying the intuitive temporal asymmetries. Finally, consequences are then drawn for the possibility of true redemption. (shrink)
Presentists standardly conform to the eternalist’s paradigm of treating all cases of property-exemplification as involving a single relation of instantiation. This, we argue, results in a much less parsimonious and philosophically explanatory picture than is possible if other alternatives are considered. We argue that by committing to primitive past and future tensed instantiation ties, presentists can make gains in both economy and explanatory power. We show how this metaphysical picture plays out in cases where an individual exists to partake in (...) facts about its past and future, and also in cases where that individual no longer exists, and proxies (or surrogates) for that thing must be found. (shrink)
∗ Apologies to Mark Hinchliff for stealing the title of his dissertation. (See Hinchliff, A Defense of Presentism. As it turns out, however, the version of Presentism defended here is different from the version defended by Hinchliff. See Section 3.1 below.).
It is widely believed that presentism is compatible with both a libertarian view of human freedom and an unrestricted principle of bivalence. I argue that, in fact, presentists must choose between bivalence and libertarianism: if presentism is true, then either the future is open or no one is free in the way that libertarians understand freedom.
In this paper, I argue that there is an inconsistency between two presentist doctrines: that of ontological symmetry and asymmetry of fixity. The former refers to the presentist belief that the past and future are equally unreal. The latter refers to the A-Theoretic intuition that the past is closed or actual, and the future is open or potential. My position in this paper is that the presentist is unable to account for the temporal asymmetry that is so fundamentally a part (...) of her theory. In Section I, I briefly outline a recent defence of presentism due to Craig, and argue that a flaw in this defence highlights the tension between the presentist's doctrines of ontological symmetry and asymmetry of fixity. In Section II, I undertake an investigation, on the presentist's behalf, in order to determine whether she is capable of reconciling these two doctrines. In the course of the investigation, I consider different asymmetries, other than that of ontology, which might be said fundamentally to constitute temporal asymmetry, and the asymmetry of fixity in particular. In Section III, I also consider whether the presentist is able to avail herself of some of the standard B-Theoretic accounts of the asymmetry of fixity, and argue that she cannot. Finally, I conclude that temporal asymmetry cannot be accounted for (or explained) other than through the postulation of an ontological asymmetry. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that presentism has a problem accounting forthe truth of statements whose truth conditions seem to require therebe relations that hold between present and non-present objects. Imotivate the problem and then examine several strategies for dealingwith the problem. I argue that no solution is forthcoming, and thispresents a prima facie problem for presentism.