Combining Philosophers

Ideas for Anon (Dan), Samir Okasha and Ned Markosian

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9 ideas

27. Natural Reality / D. Time / 1. Nature of Time / h. Presentism
Presentism is the view that only present objects exist [Markosian]
     Full Idea: According to Presentism, if we were to make an accurate list of all the things that exist (within the range of our most unrestricted quantifiers) there would not be a single non-present object on the list.
     From: Ned Markosian (A Defense of Presentism [2004], 1)
     A reaction: An immediate problem that needs examing is what constitutes an 'object'. It had better not range over time (like an journey). It would be hard to fit a description like 'the oldest man in England'.
Presentism says if objects don't exist now, we can't have attitudes to them or relations with them [Markosian]
     Full Idea: If there are no non-present objects (according to Presentism), then no one can now stand in any relation to any non-present object. You cannot now 'admire' Socrates, and no present event has a causal relation to Washington crossing the Delaware.
     From: Ned Markosian (A Defense of Presentism [2004], 2.2)
     A reaction: You can have an overlapping causal chain that gets you back to Washington, and a causal chain can connect Socrates to our thoughts about him (as in baptismal reference). A simple reply needs an 'overlap' though.
Presentism seems to entail that we cannot talk about other times [Markosian]
     Full Idea: It is very natural to talk about times, ...but Presentism seems to entail that we never say anything about any such times.
     From: Ned Markosian (A Defense of Presentism [2004], 2.4)
     A reaction: I'm beginning to think that Markosian is in the grips of a false notion of proposition, as something that exists independently of thinkers, and is entailed by the facts and objects of reality. This is not what language does.
Serious Presentism says things must exist to have relations and properties; Unrestricted version denies this [Markosian]
     Full Idea: Mark Hinchliff distinguishes between 'Serious' Presentism (objects only have relations and properties when they exist) and 'Unrestricted' Presentism (objects can have relations and properties even when they don't exist).
     From: Ned Markosian (A Defense of Presentism [2004], 3.1)
     A reaction: [Hinchliff 1996:124-6] Markosian votes for the Serious version, as being the only true Presentism. I think he is muddling language and reality, predicates and properties.
Maybe Presentists can refer to the haecceity of a thing, after the thing itself disappears [Markosian]
     Full Idea: Some Presentists (such as Adams) believe that a haecceity (a property unique to some entity) continues to exist even after its object ceases to exist. A sentence about Socrates still expresses a proposition, about 'Socraticity'.
     From: Ned Markosian (A Defense of Presentism [2004], 3.4)
     A reaction: [Adams 1986] This is rather puzzling. In what sense could a haecceity 'exist' to be referred to? Existence, but not as we know it, Jim. This smacks of medieval theology.
Maybe Presentists can paraphrase singular propositions about the past [Markosian]
     Full Idea: Maybe Presentists can paraphrase singular propositions about the past, into purely general past- and future-tensed sentences.
     From: Ned Markosian (A Defense of Presentism [2004], 3.5)
     A reaction: I'm not clear why Markosian worries about singular propositions, but is happy with general ones. Surely the latter refer as much as the former to what doesn't exist? Markosian objects that the paraphrase has a different meaning.
Special Relativity denies the absolute present which Presentism needs [Markosian]
     Full Idea: The objection to Presentism from Special Relativity is this: 1) Relativity is true, 2) so there is no absolute simultaneity, 3) so there is no absolute presentness, but 4) Presentism entails absolute presentness, so 5) Presentism is false.
     From: Ned Markosian (A Defense of Presentism [2004], 3.9)
     A reaction: I don't accept this objection. There may be accounts that can give Relativity one present (Idea 12689-90). Maybe Einstein was too instrumentalist in his account. Maybe we can have Presentism with multiple present moments.
27. Natural Reality / D. Time / 2. Passage of Time / k. Temporal truths
Objects in the past, like Socrates, are more like imaginary objects than like remote spatial objects [Markosian]
     Full Idea: Maybe putative non-present objects like Socrates have more in common with putative non-actual objects like Santa Claus than they have in common with objects located elsewhere in space, like Alpha Centauri.
     From: Ned Markosian (A Defense of Presentism [2004], 3.7)
     A reaction: We can see Alpha Centauri, so we need an example beyond some 'event horizon'. He credits Arthur Prior with this line of thought. He seems to me to drift towards a Descriptive Theory of Reference (shock!). Does the nature of reference change with death?
People are mistaken when they think 'Socrates was a philosopher' says something [Markosian]
     Full Idea: People sometimes think that 'Socrates was a philosopher' expresses something like a true, singular proposition about Socrates. They're making a mistake, but still, this explains why they think it is true.
     From: Ned Markosian (A Defense of Presentism [2004], 3.8)
     A reaction: A classic error theory, about our talk of the past. Personally I would say that the sentence really is true, and that needing a tangible object to refer to is a totally bogus requirement. 'I wonder if there are any scissors in the house?'