Article

Time and Tense

Kristie Miller

in Philosophy

ISBN: 9780195396577
Published online August 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0051
Time and Tense

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The nature of the relationship between time and tense is a contested one. On the one hand, when philosophers ask about the nature of time, they tend to ask (among other things) whether time flows, whether time has a direction, and if so, whether the direction is intrinsic or irreducible. They also ask whether other times are, in some good sense, just like other places, or whether there is some ontological difference between the present moment and other moments in time. When philosophers ask about the nature of tense, they ask (among other things) whether tensed language is eliminable, and they ask how we ought to model tensed language in logic. Exactly what the relationship is between these two sets of questions is not always clear. For some time it was thought that if tense turns out to be ineliminable in some appropriate sense, then this would give us reason to think that the world itself is tensed—that there are irreducible tensed facts—and therefore reason to think both that time flows, and that other locations in time are ontologically different from the current moment in time at which we are located. This link between tense, in our language, and the way the world is has for some time been much disputed, and it is probably fair to say that most philosophers no longer believe that we can automatically conclude that the world is composed of tensed facts even if language is ineliminably tensed.

Article.  8067 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art ; Epistemology ; Feminist Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Metaphysics ; Moral Philosophy ; Non-Western Philosophy ; Philosophy of Language ; Philosophy of Law ; Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic ; Philosophy of Mind ; Philosophy of Religion ; Philosophy of Science ; Social and Political Philosophy

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