Real Metaphysics: Essays in Honour of D.H. Mellor

By Hallvard Lillehammer; Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra | Go to book overview

12

What is wrong with the relational theory of change?

Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra


1

Things, or objects, change their properties: a banana is green one day and some days later it is yellow; a kettle is hot at one time and some time later it is cold; a person is bent at the times when he or she is sitting and straight at the times when he or she is standing. How can a banana be both green and yellow all over? By being green and yellow at different times, of course, since for something to change it must have incompatible properties at different times. 1 But how is change possible? Given that certain properties cannot be had at the same time, why is it possible to have them at different times? Why and how does a difference in time make possible what is otherwise impossible? Why is it not a contradiction that a banana is green and yellow, i.e. not green, all over at different times? This is the problem of change, and several solutions have been proposed.

Some philosophers, such as David Armstrong (1980) and David Lewis (1986:202-4), think that a difference in time makes possible what is otherwise impossible because a difference in time is also a difference in parts. No doubt it is possible for a thing to be green and for another to be yellow, and this, according to these philosophers, is what happens in the case of the banana: it is one thing that is green, a certain temporal part of the banana, and another one that is yellow, another temporal part of the banana. Others, among them presentists such as Mark Hinchliff (1996:123-6), think that a difference in time makes possible what is otherwise impossible because a difference in time is also a difference in tense. No doubt it is possible for a thing to be green and not to be other colours and this, according to these philosophers, is what happens in the case of the banana: the banana is just green and any other colour is a colour that the banana has had or will have.

Yet other philosophers propose yet another solution. Hugh Mellor, in his Real Time (1981:111-14), thought that a difference in time makes possible what is otherwise impossible because a difference in time is always a difference in relata. No doubt it is possible for a thing to bear a relation to a thing and an incompatible relation to a different thing, and this, Mellor thought, is what happens in the case of the banana: it is one thing with respect to which the

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Real Metaphysics: Essays in Honour of D.H. Mellor
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction 1
  • References 11
  • 1 - Truthmakers for Modal Truths 12
  • 2 - Things Qua Truthmakers 25
  • Postscript to 'things Qua Truthmakers': Negative Existentials 39
  • References 42
  • 3 - Deflationism 43
  • 4 - Truth and the Theory of Communication 54
  • 5 - Subjective Facts 68
  • 6 - From H2o to Water 84
  • 7 - Epiphenomenalism and Causal Asymmetry 98
  • References 119
  • 8 - Is Causation a Genuine Relation? 120
  • 9 - Dispositions and Conditionals 137
  • Notes 153
  • 10 - Structural Properties 154
  • 11 - Laws, Explanations and the Reduction of Possibilities 169
  • References 183
  • 12 - What is Wrong with the Relational Theory of Change? 184
  • 13 - Presentism 196
  • 14 - Real Metaphysics 212
  • References 237
  • A Bibliography 239
  • Index 246
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