Oxford Studies in Metaphysics - Vol. 1

By Dean W. Zimmerman | Go to book overview

3.A Defense of Presentism

Ned Markosian


1. INTRODUCTION

Presentism is the view that only present objects exist.1 According to Presentism, if we were to make an accurate list of all the things that exist—i.e. a list of all the things that our most unrestricted quantifiers range over—there would be not a single non-present object on the list.

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. I’m grateful to West Virginia University for a research grant that helped support the writing of an earlier draft of this paper. And although they didn’t give me any money, I’m even more grateful to Stuart Brock, Matthew Davidson, Greg Fitch, Geoffrey Goddu, Mark Heller, Hud Hudson, Aleksandar Jokic, Trenton Merricks, Bradley Monton, Joshua Parsons, Laurie Paul, Sharon Ryan, Steven Savitt, Ted Sider, Quentin Smith, and Dean Zimmerman for helpful comments on earlier versions of the paper, and to Greg Fitch, Tom Ryckman, and Ted Sider for many helpful discussions of these topics.

1 More precisely, it is the view that, necessarily, it is always true that only present objects exist. At least, that is how I am using the name ‘Presentism’. Quentin Smith has used the name to refer to a different view; see his Language and Time. Note that, unless otherwise indicated, what I mean by ‘present’ is temporally present, as opposed to spatially present.

For discussions of Presentism and Non-presentism, see R. M. Adams, “Time and Thisness”; Augustine, Confessions; Bigelow, “Presentism and Properties”; Brogaard, “Presentist Four-Dimensionalism”; Chisholm, On Metaphysics; Chisholm, “Referring to Things that No Longer Exist”; Christensen, Space-Like Time; Fine, “Prior on the Construction of Possible Worlds and Instants”; Fitch, “Does Socrates Exist?”; Fitch, “Singular Propositions in Time”; Hinchliff, A Defense of Presentism; Hinchliff, “The Puzzle of Change”; Keller and Nelson, “Presentists Should Believe in Time Travel”; Long and Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers, Vol. 1, Translations of the Principal Sources with Philosophical Commentary (especially the writings of Sextus Empiricus); Lucretius, On the Nature of the Universe; Markosian, “The 3D/4D Controversy and Nonpresent Objects”; McCall, A Model of the Universe; Merricks, “On the Incompatibility of Enduring and Perduring Entities”; Monton, “Presentism and Spacetime Physics”; Prior, “Changes in Events and Changes in Things”; Prior, “The Notion of the Present”; Prior, Papers on Time and tense; Prior, Past, Present and Future; Prior, “Some Free Thinking About Time”; Prior, “A Statement of Temporal Realism”; Prior, Time and Modality;

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