Against Presentism

Theodore Sider

in Four-Dimensionalism

Published in print October 2001 | ISBN: 9780199244430
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598425 | DOI:
 Against Presentism

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The ‘B‐theory’ of time says that all temporal facts ‘reduce’ to tenseless facts about a manifold of equally real past, present, and future objects; the ‘A‐theory’ denies this reduction. Presentism is a version of the A‐theory that denies the existence of part of the B‐theorist's manifold: the part containing merely past and future objects. Some say that the B‐theory cannot account for the irreducibly temporal nature of our psychological attitudes, but this is incorrect. B‐theorists can defend temporal versions of well‐known theories of ‘indexical’, or ‘de se’, attitudes. Presentism, on the other hand, is vulnerable to powerful objections: (1) The irreducible tense‐operators to which presentists must appeal are objectionably ungrounded in reality. (2) Presentists cannot account for the fundamental ‘cross‐time spatial relations’ that ground the structure of space‐time, and thus cannot account for spatiotemporal continuity, acceleration, and other states of motion. (3) Presentism conflicts with the special theory of relativity.

Keywords: change; cross‐time relations; de se; eternalism; indexical attitudes; Minkowski space‐time; motion; presentism; prior; relativity; space‐time; special relativity; supervenience; time; velocity

Chapter.  17474 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Metaphysics

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