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Oxford University Press
A Future for Presentism

A Future for Presentism

by Craig Bourne


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A Future for Presentism

Presentism, the view that only the present exists, was a much neglected position in the philosophy of time for a number of years. Recently, however, it has been enjoying a renaissance among philosophers. A Future for Presentism is meant as a timely contribution to this fast growing and exciting debate.

After discussing rival positions in the philosophy of time, in Part I Craig Bourne shows how presentism is the only viable alternative to the tenseless theory of time. He then develops a distinctive version of presentism that avoids the mistakes of the past, and which sets up the framework for solving problems traditionally associated with the position, such as what makes past-tensed statements true, how to give the proper semantics for statements about the future, how to deal with transtemporal relations, how we can meaningfully talk about past individuals, and how causation can be accommodated. Part I concludes with a discussion of the direction of time and causation, the decision-theoretic problem known as 'Newcomb's problem', and the possibility of time travel and causal loops. In Part II Bourne focuses on the problems for presentism raised by relativity theory. He begins by giving a self-contained exposition of the concepts of special relativity that are important for understanding the later discussion of its philosophical implications. The last two chapters explores the philosophical implications of certain cosmological models that arise from general relativity, namely the expanding models, which seem to represent our universe, and Gödel's infamous model, which allows us to take a journey into our future and arrive in our past. The necessary physics is explained withthe aid of diagrams, throughout.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199568215
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 08/17/2009
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Carig Bourne is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Hertfordshire.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgements xi

Introduction 1

I What is a theory of time? 1

II Initial Plausible options for a theory of time 3

III What conditions must any adequate philosophical theory of time satisfy? 14

Part I The Presentist Manifesto 19

1 When am I? 21

I The Present Problem 21

II Tensed theories toppled 24

III Tensed truth-conditions: token-reflexive or non-token-reflexive, that's not the question 33

2 A theory of presentism 39

I The parameters of the problem 39

II A radical response 40

III Priorian presentism 41

IV Reductive presentism 47

V Ersatzer presentism 52

VI Branching time for presentists 61

VII The advantages of ersatzer presentism 65

3 Some outstanding problems for presentism met 70

Problem 1 McTaggart's argument 70

I McTaggart's position 71

II McTaggart's argument 73

III How ersatzer presentism avoids McTaggart's argument 76

Problem 2 A deontic, semantic, and paradoxical need for other times 78

I The deontic need 78

II The semantic need 79

III The paradoxical need 80

Problem 3 Future contingents, non-contradiction, and the law of excluded middle muddle 82

Problem 4 Transtemporal relations (I) 95

I Earlier than and defining tenses 96

II Determinables 98

III Qualitative relations 98

Problem 5 Transtemporal relations (II): reference 99

I Prior, proper names, and presentism 99

II Rigidity for Russellians 102

III Who wants to be a Millianaire? 103

IV Passing the nominal parcel 104

4 Transtemporal relations (III): causation 109

I Formulating theories of causation within presentism 110

II The direction of time and causation: the counterfactual connotation of causation 115

III Thedirection of time and causation: the means-end connotation of causation 121

IV Mellor's argument against causal loops 131

V Presentism and backwards causation 134

Part II Presentism and Relativity 137

5 Physics for philosophers 141

I Basic notions 141

II Essentials of special relativity 146

III Minkowski space-time diagrams 151

IV Minkowski's philosophical conclusions 157

6 The present dialectic in special relativity 160

I Putnam's thesis 160

II Stein's antithesis 162

III Questioning the grounds for adopting Einstein's definition of simultaneity 172

IV Understanding and defining absolute simultaneity 173

V The interpretation of the Lorentz transformations 176

VI The 'conspiracy of silence' objection 179

VII Simplicity and surplus content 182

VIII The Present Problem revisited 184

IX Conclusion 185

7 Becoming inflated 187

I The Mellor-Rees argument against tense theories 187

II Can expansion combat such wrinkles? 191

III Event and creation horizons 197

IV Bursting the balloon 198

8 All the time in the worlds: Gödel's modal moral 204

I Gödel's philosophical position on the nature of time 205

II Establishing part I of Gödel's argument 206

III Part 2 of Gödel's argument 212

IV Using TNT as ammunition against Gödel's conclusion 213

V Tenseless time: one way to dispose of TNT safely 214

VI The essential properties of time 216

VII Another way to dispose of TNT-although taking great care to do it safely 217

Bibliography 225

Index 239

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A Future for Presentism 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Atethnekos More than 1 year ago
I bought this e-book because I needed it quick for some research and didn't have time to wait for a hard-copy edition to be delivered. The price at Barnes and Noble ($20) was a lot better than the price at Sony's e-book store ($80). So that would be this edition's good point. The bad points are two, as follows. First problem with this e-book: The pagination is not the same as the hard-copy edition and entirely relative to the settings (resolution, etc.) of the reader software. This makes it impossible to give a page reference for this edition. Second problem with this e-book: Many different symbols have been rendered with the same "?". This includes asterisks, logical quantifiers and some logical operators. This makes it very difficult at times to figure out what the propositions are supposed to be. When I was at a loss I would have to look up the surrounding readable words on Google's preview of the book and then Google would show me the small excerpt with the proper formatting. The Barnes and Noble e-book format seems to be alright for casual readers of fiction but not for scholarly purposes. But who is casually reading a philosophical defence of Presentism?