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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: February 2013

5 - Tensed time

Summary

Tense versus dynamism

In §1.6 I noted that we should not assume that the eternal–dynamic dispute maps neatly onto the tenseless–tensed dispute. The latter revolves around the sorts of concepts that are needed to describe the world in a metaphysically adequate way, whereas the former concerns the reality or otherwise of temporal passage. The B-theory we have just been considering combines two claims:

• The world is a four-dimensional ensemble, and all times and events are equally real and coexist.

• The world can be fully described in tenseless terms.

In Chapter 6 I will be looking at ways of taking issue with the first claim; in this chapter I will consider the implications of rejecting the second.

In a sequence of papers spread over some years, E. J. Lowe has sought to defend the A-framework against its critics (such as McTaggart and Mellor), and thus establish the viability of the tensed conception of time. Since many B-theorists have argued that the tensed conception is incoherent, his arguments on this point are of interest in their own right. In Chapter 2 I introduced McTaggart's A-paradox, but since it proved peripheral to the main point that McTaggart was trying to make, I did not consider it in any detail; a remedy was suggested but not examined closely. Similarly, in Chapter 3 we encoun tered Mellor's argument that tensed statements have tenseless truth-conditions, but we have not yet considered counter arguments.

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