Time and Becoming

Subproject 1

Tense is undeniably a phenomenon which pertains to language and thought. It seems to be a deeply rooted commonsense belief that the tensed features of being past, being present and being future – so called A-properties in the literature -, are also real, objective determinations of things and events, rather than “just in our words and minds”.

Yet these determinations have been attacked both from the metaphysics camp (mostly via some variant of the celebrated McTaggart’s argument), and the philosophy of physics camp (mostly due to their alleged incompatibility with any theory which incorporates Lorentz-invariance, and hence relativity of simultaneity, which in turns seemingly undermines an absolute distinction between past, present and future). It has been argued that, as far as physics is concerned, temporal determinations are completely captured by frame-relative B-relations of being earlier than, simultaneous with and later than, and that only spatiotemporal determinations have an absolute character

Skeptical challenges about the metaphysical substantivity of the debate between A- and B-theories have also been raised. Recent works in philosophy of time suggest promising ways out of both the skeptical stance, and the attacks on commonsensical conceptions of the time order. This part of the project will investigate and critically assess these options and explore new ones.