[SydPhil] August 8: Workshop on Presentism

Kristie Miller kristie_miller at yahoo.com
Thu Jul 13 10:30:24 AEST 2017

Workshop on Presentism: all welcome
August 8, The Muniment Room
 The Centre for Time, The University of Sydney
David Ingram
'The Essence of Time'
Presentism is, roughly, the view that only present entities exist and what’s present changes. Many objections to presentism challenge the apparent implications of its distinctive ontological commitments. Some opponents insist that presentists lack the ontological resources required to account for genuine cross-temporal relations, including direct reference to past things, and a relation that mediates ‘ontological explanations’ of evidence-transcendent and objective truths about the past (i.e. the ‘truth-making’ relation). The implication that presentists can’t account for such cross-temporal relations underpins several distinct objections to the view. Presentism is rightly (justifiably) unpopular if it fails to account for how things really are with respect to myriad cross-temporal relations in the world. I defend presentism from standard objections. I present and defend a version of presentism that employs a novel ontology of ‘thisness’. I urge that presentists accept the existence of thisnesses of past and present entities in order to avoid a suite of objections facing the view, each of which stem from the worry that presentists lack the ontological resources to account for cross-temporal relations. I use two objections, one concerning direct reference to past things, and one concerning ontological explanation for truths about the past, in order to frame and develop my particular version of the view.


Jonathan Tallant:
‘There’s no such thing as presentism’

In a number of papers, I have articulated a slightly non-standard version of presentism, described as ‘Existence Presentism’ (EP). In this paper I adduce three reasons to prefer EP to more traditional forms of presentism. I suggest that presentists should be existence presentists and that those looking to oppose presentism should focus their attention on EP.






Nick Smith

Presentism is Still Inconsistent
Presentism is one version of the A-theory of time. A-theorists hold that there is an objective now (present moment) and an objective flow of time, and therefore want to draw different pictures of reality depending upon the time at which the picture is drawn. In an earlier paper I argued that the times at which the different pictures are drawn may be taken to be normal times or hypertimes: if they are normal times then the A-theory is inconsistent, or else collapses to the B-theory; if they are hypertimes then the A-theory is consistent but deeply problematic. Several authors have objected to my argument -- for example Brad Skow claims that I incorrectly assume that all A-theorists must accept that there is a "perspective outside of time", and Ross Cameron claims that my argument proves too much: that a parallel argument in the modal case would force us towards Lewisian modal realism. In this talk I respond to these authors and show that my argument against the A-theory still stands.



Kristie Miller


If you’re going to be an A-theorist, you should be a presentist


In this paper I present a general version of the epistemic challenge for non-presentist A-theorists, and argue that recent attempts to avoid the argument’s conclusion fail. These recent attempts aim to avoid the conclusion without holding that the way things seem, at non-present times, is subjectively distinguishable from the way things seem in the present. I argue that these approaches fail, and that presentism is preferable to alternative approaches that do not fail.



Associate Professor Kristie Miller
Senior ARC Research Fellow
Joint Director, the Centre for Time
School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry and
The Centre for Time
The University of Sydney
Sydney Australia
Room S212, A 14

kmiller at usyd.edu.au
kristie_miller at yahoo.com
Ph: +612 9036 9663

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