Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Major

Philosophy

Date of Defense

11-12-2012

Graduate Advisor

Professor Berit Brogaard

Committee

John Brunero, PhD.

Jon McGinnis, PhD.

Abstract

In a paper titled “Tense, Modality, and Semantic Values,” (Philosophical Perspectives, 2003) Jeffrey King argues (in part) that tenses in English do not function as sentential operators but that they are more akin to object-language quantifiers over times. Although not an explicit concern of King’s in the paper under consideration here, his analysis poses several prima facie difficulties for the metaphysical position known as “presentism” (that is, roughly, the view that only what exists at the present is real). Specifically, the commonsense motivation for presentism is threatened because of the discrepancy King proposes between how tense actually functions in the language and how presentism typically insists that tense functions. Additionally, if King is right, the typical presentist paraphrasing project is seemingly jeopardized. Herein we will try to raise some worries about King’s proposal (e.g., without limitation, that he has failed to consider relevant potential sorts of operators) and about the cited linguistic evidence (e.g., that it is too parochial, turns on "hard cases," etc.). Finally, we will suggest defenses (e.g., a Matti Eklund-inspired sort of "indifferentism") of both the motivation for presentism and the paraphrasing methods usually employed (which defenses arguably hold up even if King is correct).

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