front page  |  about  |  site map






September 27th, 2014
workshop/symposium
philosophy of mental time III:
the metaphysics of time


The metaphysics of time is characterized by a number of antagonisms: A-theory vs. B-theory, presentism vs. eternalism, 3Dism vs. 4Dism, and so forth. Because the options are mutually exclusive, in all of these a choice is obligatory, or so it seems at least.
This workshop focuses on the questions whether and why such choices matter; that is, on what exactly is at stake in these choices. Possible answers to these questions range from an endorsement of one option in a given antagonism to a skeptical or deflationary rejection of that antagonism and/or its underlying assumptions itself.


speakers

Samuel Wheeler III
(University of Connecticut, Storrs, USA)
Davidsonian Dissolution of Two Problems in the Philosophy of Time

Yasuo Nakayama
(Osaka University, Osaka)
Ontology and Epistemology of Four-dimensional Indexicalism

Takahiro Isashiki
(Nihon University, Tokyo)
Is the Present a Durationless Instant?

Daisuke Kachi
(Saitama University, Saitama)
Endurance and the Asymmetry of Time

Takeshi Sakon
(Kyoto University, Kyoto)
In defense of Presentism; Or How to Defuse the Triviality Objection

Lajos Brons
(Nihon University, Tokyo)
Quantifiers, Domains, and (Meta-) Ontology




abstracts

Samuel Wheeler III
Davidsonian Dissolution of Two Problems in the Philosophy of Time

A neo-Davidsonian treats truth as completely characterized by sentences such as "'Fred is a frog' is true if and only if Fred is a frog." That Fred is a frog is how the world has to be for “Fred is a frog” to be true. There are no "truth-makers," entities which correspond to sentences in an explanatory way. Likewise, predication as completely explained by sentences such as "'Is a frog' is true of an object a if and only if a is a frog." There are no properties that explain what has to be the case for a predicate to be true of an object.
I demonstrate how two traditional problems in the philosophy of time disappear from a Davidsonian perspective. Those problems rest on supposing that truth requires truth-makers or that properties are entities that explain predication. The problem of future contingents, which goes back at least to Aristotle, and leads him to hold that sentences about the future are now neither true nor false, cannot be formulated without supposing that there are truth-makers which must exist for a sentence to be true. Lewis' "problem of temporary intrinsics," which is a modern version of Heraclitus' argument that nothing survives change, depends on treating properties as entities that explain predication.


Yasuo Nakayama
Ontology and Epistemology of Four-dimensional Indexicalism

In this presentation, I defend the four-dimensional indexicalism against other positions. The four-dimensionalism is an ontological position that permits the use of the temporal part. I interpret the mereological primitive relation part as four-dimensional part. The indexicalism concerns with the indexical interpretation of the present time. For a four-dimensionalist, it is natural to accept the eternalist position. The distinction between A-theory and B-theory presupposes that the time dimension is separable from three space dimensions. For four-dimensionalists who take the relativity theory seriously, the time dimension should be determined after the frame of the reference is determined. Furthermore, we should distinguish between the simple B-theory and the perspectival B-theory. Indexicalists identify, in a given situation, a particular element of the B series as the referent of the indexical term now. Perspectival B-theorists deal with the B series supplied with information of the present time. In this presentation, I also explain the appearance of the time flaw from the viewpoint of four-dimensional epistemology.


Takahiro Isashiki
Is the Present a Durationless Instant?

Many people seem to take it for granted that objectively the present is a durationless instant though psychologically it has some duration (called "the specious present"). But, as far as I know, no one has succeeded in proving that the objective present is a durationless instant.
In this presentation, firstly, I examine three possible proofs (each resorts respectively to the continuity of change, the divisibility of interval, and the difference of melody from dissonance), and I conclude that they all fail.
Then, I show that these proofs use the line-image of time as an implicit assumption, and I explain the reason why we should not assume the line-image of time when we study it philosophically. (McTaggart's "A series" and "B series" are lines, and so he sets a wrong starting point for the philosophy of time.)
Lastly, I outline my theory of time which doesn't rely on the line-image of time. It is based on the differences between the things category and the events category.


Daisuke Kachi 
Endurance and the Asymmetry of Time          

I argue that tense (or rather, aspect) is a kind of de re modality whose source is endurance, which should be characterized by the concepts of 'pure becoming' and 'momentary worlds'. I will show that this view leads to a dynamic A-theory of Time which implies the asymmetry between the past and the future in a way that is different from either a growing-block theory or a branching-time theory


Takeshi Sakon
In defense of Presentism; Or How to Defuse the Triviality Objection

Very roughly, presentism is the thesis that only the present exists (or equivalently, everything is present), whereas eternalism is the thesis that past, present and future things are all equally real. The dispute between presentism and etenalism thus described is purely ontological. Crisp (2004a and 2004b), Ludlow (2004), Meyer (2005), Mozerskey (2011: sec. 1) and other philosophers, however, have raised and discussed the so-called triviality objection, which allegedly shows that the presentist ontology is either trivially true or obviously false. If the argument succeeds, presentism cannot even get off the ground, as the objectors claim.
In this talk, I try to respond to the objection on behalf of presentism. First, the ontological characterization of presentism is not enough to capture its core idea: When it is defined more accurately, the problem will vanish. Second, even though presentism may be false under some metaphysical assumptions, to accept them as true is by no means a trivial matter. Third, presentists may answer the objection in the same way as actualists do by taking times as ways things can be. ]


Lajos Brons
Quantifiers, Domains, and (Meta-) Ontology

In metaphysics, quantifiers are assumed to be either binary or unary. Binary quantifiers take the concept(s) "all of" and/or "some of" as primitive(s); unary quantifiers take the concept(s) "everything" and/or "something" as primitive(s). Binary quantifiers (explicitly) range over domains. However, "everything" and "something" are reducible to the binary quantifiers "all of" and "some of": "everything" is all of some implied domain, and there is no natural, default, or inherent domain U such that everything is all of U. Therefore, any quantifier ranges over a domain, and is thus binary, and there are no unary quantifiers.
This implies that if two theories assign different truth values to "Fs exist", while they agree about the relevant properties of Fs, then the two theories quantify over different domains, and a choice between these two theories is, therefore, a choice between domains. However, none of the common arguments for or against particular domains is up to the task, and therefore, there are at least some cases in which there is no single right domain. The choice for a particular domain is a pragmatic choice. (Particular attention will be given to the case of presentism vs. eternalism in the presentation.)
In addition to substantiating the above arguments, this paper discusses its implications for the metaphysical debate between Carnap and Quine and the contemporary controversies in meta-ontology.