Presentism’s persisting problem

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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David Lewis [1986. On the Plurality of Worlds. Oxford: Basil Blackwell Publishers] famously declares that presentism is unable to allow for objects to persist and therefore should be rejected. The underlying idea is that presentism, in which only present entities exist, conflicts with persistence, which requires an object exist at multiple times. Both presentists and eternalists alike take this objection to be easily dismissed because the presentist can offer a tensed account of persistence in which an object persists iff it exists and it will or did exist. Although it is the standard presentist response to Lewis, this strategy is inherently problematic. I show that if persistence is formulated in a tensed way, the presentist cannot distinguish a temporal series of unrelated instantaneous objects from a persisting object. Because there is no persistence in a temporal series of unrelated instantaneous objects, if the presentist cannot establish a difference between the two kinds of objects, the presentist’s account does not qualify as an adequate account of persistence.



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Lisa Leininger
Hobart and William Smith Colleges

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On the Plurality of Worlds.David Lewis - 1986 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 178 (3):388-390.
Persistence through time.Sally Haslanger - 2003 - In Michael J. Loux & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), The Oxford handbook of metaphysics. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 315--354.
Presentism and properties.John Bigelow - 1996 - Philosophical Perspectives 10:35-52.

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