Presentism is, roughly, the ontological view that only the present exists. Among the philosophers engaged in the metaphysics of time there is wide agreement that presentism is intuitive (or commonsensical) and that its intuitiveness counts as evidence in its favour. My contribution has two purposes: first, defending the view that presentism is intuitive from some recent criticisms; second, putting forth a genealogical (or debunking) argument aimed at depriving presentism’s intuitiveness of the evidential value commonly granted to it.
In a series of recent papers Francesco Orilia has presented an argument for the moral desirability of presentism. It goes, in brief, as follows: since the existence of painful events is morally undesirable, presentism, which denies that past painful events (tenselessly) exist, is morally more desirable than non-presentism, which instead affirms that past painful events (tenselessly) exist. An objection against this argument, which has already been taken into consideration by Orilia, is the ugly history objection or radical objection: what really (...) matters in the moral appraisal of a world is the history of it, and since the presentist and the non-presentist versions of our world share the same ugly history, they are morally on a par. This paper aims at corroborating this objection and defending it from Orilia’s criticisms. This will be done by bringing into play various thought experiments and a distinction between relevance (of an event or a fact about the occurrence of an event) to the moral evaluation of a world and moral (and psychological) involvement (in an event or in a fact about the occurrence of an event). (shrink)
Temporal ontology is the philosophical debate on the existence of the past and the future. It features a three-way confrontation between supporters of presentism (the present exists, the past and the future do not), pastism (the past and the present exist, the future does not), and eternalism (the past, the present, and the future all exist). Most philosophers engaged in this debate believe that presentism is much more in agreement with common sense than the rival views; moreover, most of them (...) believe that being in agreement with common sense is epistemically valuable for a philosophical view. We studied experimentally non-experts’ ideas pertaining to the domain of temporal ontology, i.e., as we called it, common-sense temporal ontology, focusing on the Italian population. We found that a non-overwhelming majority of participants (~64%) favoured presentism, while two significant minorities favoured pastism (~19%) and eternalism (~17%). We think that our findings provide some support, albeit weaker than expected, for the view that presentism is more in agreement with common sense than the rival positions. (shrink)
The Dead Past Growing Block theory of time—DPGB-theory—is the metaphysical view that the past and the present tenselessly exist, whereas the future does not, and that only the present hosts mentality, whereas the past lacks it and is, in this sense, dead. One main reason in favour of this view is that it is immune to the now-now objection or epistemic objection (which aims at undermining the certainty, within an A-theoretical universe, of being currently experiencing the objective present time). In (...) this paper, I examine the additional arguments offered by P. Forrest and G. A. Forbes to back the DPGB-theory and show that they do not work. I also examine a proposal to rescue the DPGB-theory suggested by an anonymous reviewer for this journal and argue that it does not work either. Moreover, in line with D. Braddon-Mitchell and against Forbes, I argue that the DPGB-theory is indeed committed to the existence of zombies in the past. Being ad hoc and burdened by a very odd and counterintuitive ontological commitment, the DPGB-theory turns out to be rather unpalatable. (shrink)
Temporal ontology is concerned with the ontological status of the past, the present and the future, with presentism and eternalism as main contenders since the second half of the last century. In recent years several philosophers have argued that the presentism/eternalism dispute is not substantial. They have embraced, one may say, deflationism. Denying or downplaying the meaningfulness of tenseless language and wielding the so-called triviality objection have been their main argumentative tools. Other philosophers have opposed this trend, thereby holding fast (...) to what could be named substantialism. Their leading defensive strategy has consisted in bringing to the fore tenselessness or unrestricted quantification in an attempt to resist the triviality objection. Despite this reaction, the past few years have hosted a new wave of deflationism, wherein the triviality objection and qualms about the legitimacy of tenselessness and unrestricted quantification still loom large. This paper counters this trend, by providing a new clarification of tenseless predication, unrestricted quantifiers and their role in rescuing substantialism from the triviality objection. A crucial ingredient is this: the appeal to unrestricted quantifiers and to tenseless predication are not alternative strategies, but rather two sides of the same coin, since substantialism requires quantifiers that are both tenseless and unrestricted. (shrink)
In filosofia spesso si segue un metodo stando al quale una tesi o teoria che sia più in sintonia con il senso comune deve essere preferita alle posizioni meno in sintonia con esso, per lo meno fino a quando non si mostri che quella tesi o teoria è inadeguata e che una delle posizioni avverse costituisce un adeguato sostituto. Nel presente contributo si vuole offrire una caratterizzazione della nozione di senso comune generalmente in uso nei dibattiti filosofici contemporanei; illustrare criticamente (...) i principali metodi impiegabili per determinare contenuti filosoficamente rilevanti del senso comune; chiarire e giustificare il metodo filosofico dell'appello al senso comune; presentare, d'altro canto, alcune delle strategie argomentative attuabili da chi si trovi a sostenere una tesi o teoria contrastante con il senso comune. (shrink)
Presentism is the view that only present temporal entities (tenselessly) exist. A widely-discussed problem for presentism concerns causation and, more specifically, the supposed cross-temporally relational character of it. I think that the best reply to this problem can already be found in the literature on temporal ontology: it consists, roughly, in showing that (at least) some of the main approaches to causation can be rephrased so as to avoid commitment to any cross-temporal relation, including the causal relation itself. The main (...) purpose of this paper is to extend this reply to the process view, an approach to causation that has not been considered within this debate until now. I shall do this by taking into account Dowe’s conserved quantity theory—a recent and prominent theory of this sort— and employing it as a proxy for the other major process theories of causation. In dealing with Dowe’s process theory of causation, however, two additional problems must be faced: one concerns the four-dimensional spacetime framework on which its formulation relies; the other concerns the very notion of causal process (and the companion notion of causal interaction). While the presentistic account of Dowe’s theory (and, virtually, of the process view of causation in general) put forth in this paper is intended primarily as a contribution to the mentioned paraphrase- based enterprise of reconciliation between presentism and causation, I shall also offer some reasons for presentists to prefer the process view of causation to the other views of causation that have already been reconciled with presentism. (shrink)
The conference “Emergence and Causation” took place in Macerata on 23–25 September 2015 and was organised by Michele Paolini Paoletti and Francesco Orilia as a major event within the research project “Causal Relata, Mental Causation and Downward Causation”, founded by The John Templeton Foundation and Durham University. In what follows, I shall summarise one by one the contributions offered by the 12 speakers who attended at the conference, attempting to highlight the main points of each of them.
We distinguish three debates within current analytic philosophy of time: a first one regarding the passage of time, where static and dynamic views oppose each other; a second one concerning the existence or non-existence of temporal entities, where presentism and eternalism are main contenders; a third one about permanence, where the conflict is between permanentism and temporarism. We then consider how Severino's Parmenidean view may be related to such debates and argue that it is best viewed as a kind of (...) temporarist static eternalism. (shrink)