The New Theory of Time


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Edited and with an introduction by L. Nathan Oaklander and Quentin Smith

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The most important debate between twentieth-century philosophers of time has been whether events that have happened, are happening, or will happen are equally real (the tenseless theory of time) or whether there is a fundamental distinction between past, present, and future, with only present events possessing full existence (the tensed theory). In the 1980s a new version of the tenseless theory of time emerged. While advocates still posit that all events are equally real, they depart from the old tenseless theory by conceding that tensed expressions cannot be translated into tenseless ones, and support their view of time using other arguments.

This anthology offers the latest turns in the debate over the new theory of time, with essays written by many of the most prominent contemporary thinkers in the philosophy of time. There are discussions on the role—or nonrole—of language in determining which theory is true; McTaggart's paradox and the logical difficulties that defenders of the tenseless theory say are inherent in tensed theory; and the nature of our experience of time, which proponents of both theories claim can now be explained. The preface and the general introduction to the book set the debate within the wider philosophical context and show why the subject of temporal becoming is a perennial concern of science, religion, language, logic, and the philosophy of mind.

L. Nathan Oaklander is professor of philosophy at the University of Michigan- Flint. Quentin Smith is associate professor of philosophy at Western Michigan University.

"A collection of essays of unfailing interest and marked originality. Mandatory reading for anyone interested in the metaphysics of time and the semantics of tense."—Ruth Barcan Marcus, Yale University

"This volume not only is the first to survey comprehensively the many thorny controversies involved in the new tenseless theory of time but is also itself an important contribution toward advancing the debate."—V. Alan White, University of Wisconsin Center-Manitowoc County

"Anyone undertaking research on the debate over tense could not do better than to begin with this volume. . . . An indispensable tool for anyone working in this area."—Roin Le Poidevin, International Philosophical Quarterly

"The merit of this collection lies in the fact that it is clearly focused, and is replete with replies and 'replies to replies'. It is also . . . the only collection that addresses in depth the issues raised by the new tenseless theory of time. For these reasons, it is highly recommended for both students and professionals interested in issues relating to the semantics of tensed language, and in the metaphysics of time flow."—Caroline Lierse, Australian Journal of Philosophy

ISBN: 9780300057966
Publication Date: August 31, 1994
394 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4