Ersatzer Presentism and the Limits of the Modal Analogy
Presentism, the position that only present objects exist, is taken as the commonsense view of time, capturing our everyday temporal beliefs. However, presentism is also faced by a number of well-known objections. One of the most damaging of these is the grounding objection, which shows that the presentist is unable to account for contingent past truths. A recent strategy deployed by the presentist to counter this objection is to adopt a view known as ersatzer presentism. This ersatzer picture holds that times are abstract objects, and uses these abstract times to ground past truths. It draws on the structural similarities between time and modality to construct a temporal analogue of actualist realism about possible worlds. In this thesis, I argue that ersatzer presentism is unsuccessful as an account of time, as it cannot adequately represent a temporal series. I will reformat an argument originally made by Lewis (1986), against actualist abstract accounts of worlds, which shows that the ersatzer presentist cannot distinguish between an ordered series of abstract times which genuinely represents the past and one which does not. This inability to distinguish between an accurate and an inaccurate series means that ersatzer presentism has not provided an account of the grounding of past truths. The failure of ersatzer presentism has important implications for the analogy between time and modality, particularly in regards to the distinction between temporal and modal ordering relations.
Advisor: Weber, Zach; Majeed, Raamy; Dyke, Heather
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Philosophy
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: presentism; modality; time
Research Type: Thesis