Saturday, April 27, 2019

Open the thread!

It’s your opportunity lawfully to indulge your impulse to make those off-topic comments I’m constantly having to delete.  Do so in good conscience, because nothing is really off-topic in this, the latest open thread.  From Donald Fagen to Ronald Reagan, from the Black Dahlia to papal regalia to inverted qualia – discuss whatever you like.  As always, just keep it classy and civil and free of trolling and troll-feeding. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Aristotelians ought to be presentists

Presentism holds that within the temporal domain, only the present exists and the past and future do not.  Alex Pruss thinks that Aristotelians shouldn’t be presentists.  That would be news to Aristotle, Aquinas, and other presentist Aristotelians.  I agree with them rather than with Alex, and I think that presentism is in fact the natural view to take if one starts with an Aristotelian view of the nature of physical reality, and of the nature of time in particular.  I spell all this out at length in Aristotle’s Revenge.  Here I will just try briefly to convey the general idea.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Vallicella on existence-entailing relations and presentism

Bill Vallicella continues his critical response to my defense of presentism in Aristotle’s Revenge.  In the first part of his critique (to which I responded in an earlier post), Bill raised the influential “truthmaker objection” against presentism.  In his latest post, he rehearses another popular objection, which appeals to the nature of relations.  I don’t think this objection is any more formidable than the truthmaker objection, but here too Bill disagrees.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Vallicella on the truthmaker objection against presentism

Among the many ideas defended in Aristotle’s Revenge is the A-theory of time, and presentism in particular.  Relativity, time travel, the experience of time, and other issues in the philosophy of time are treated along the way, and what I say about those topics is crucial to my defense of presentism.  (See pp. 233-303.)  My buddy Bill Vallicella objects to my response in the book to the “truthmaker objection” against presentism.  Let’s consider Bill’s misgivings.

Presentism is the thesis that only the present exists, and that past and future events and objects do not.  To be more precise, it is the thesis that in the temporal realm, only present objects and events exist.  (For one could also hold – as I do, though other presentists might not – that in addition to what exists in time, there is what exists in an eternal or timeless way and what exists in an aeviternal way.) 

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Can you doubt that 2 + 3 = 5?

In his first Meditation, Descartes famously tries to push doubt as far as he can, in the hope of finding something that cannot be doubted and will thus provide a suitable foundation for the reconstruction of human knowledge.  Given the possibility that he is dreaming or that an evil spirit might be causing him to hallucinate, he judges that whatever the senses tell him might in principle be false.  In particular, the entire material world, including even his own body and brain, might be illusory.  Hence claims about the material world, and empirical claims in general, cannot in Descartes’ view be among the foundations of knowledge.