Temporal Supervenience

Thomas Sattig

in The Language and Reality of Time

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9780199279524
Published online September 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191604041 | DOI:
 Temporal Supervenience

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This chapter serves as an introduction to the themes of the book. The thesis of temporal supervenience is that all facts about ordinary time, all facts shaped by our ordinary temporal discourse, logically supervene on facts about spacetime; what goes on in spacetime fully determines what goes on in ordinary time. Temporal supervenience has many aspects, corresponding to various kinds of supervenient temporal phenomena. Among the most basic phenomena are persistence and change through ordinary time. The problem of temporal supervenience with respect to these phenomena has two components. The first component is to specify the spatiotemporal supervenience base of persistence and change. How do objects occupy spacetime? And how are properties instantiated across occupied spacetime? The second component is to build an explanatory bridge from the supervenience base to the supervenient phenomena. Such a bridge requires an ‘analysis’ of temporal existence and temporal instantiation, that is, a semantic account of ordinary temporal predications such as ‘a was F’. The problem of temporal supervenience thus connects the metaphysics of time with the semantics of temporal discourse. Before the supervenience of ordinary temporal facts on spacetime facts can be explained, the shape of ordinary time needs to be clarified. This is a further task of Chapter 1. Tenserism and A-time are criticized in the context of temporal supervenience with the aim of promoting detenserism as the correct account of tense and B-time as the true shape of ordinary time.

Keywords: A-theory; change; indexicals; persistence; presentism; spacetime; supervenience; temporal adverbials; tense; time

Chapter.  18887 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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