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Wednesday, February 08, 2017

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You did not mention Prior's solution to this, namely strict tensing.

This avocado was not ripe, this avocado is ripe. The predicates ‘was not ripe’ and ‘is ripe’ are not contraries. Why do you think this puzzle is not easily solved?

I link again to Prior’s excellent paper on the subject.

Prior makes the point very nicely as follows.

I only insist (a) that what is now in question with this leaf is not a property of being green in August which attaches to it tenselessly, but a property of having been green August which attaches to it now; and (b) that having been green in August is not a way of being green now (I am not writing in August); (c) that neither is it a way of being green timelessly - there is in fact no way of being green timelessly (as Wilson very truly says, Philip cannot be drunk without being drunk at some time; and neither can a leaf be green without being green at some time); and (d) that the internal punctuation of 'having been green in August' is 'having in-August been green', not 'having been green-in-August'. Putting it yet another way: A leaf that was green in August is one sort of formerly-green leaf (because 'in August' is one sort of 'formerly'); but a formerly-green leaf is not one sort of green leaf.

Ie. being green-in-the-past is not a way of being a particular kind of green. I.e. ‘in the past’ is a sort of alienans adjective.

You mean that the predicates are not contradictories. We agree on these platitudes:

Contradiction: this avocado is not ripe and is ripe.
No contradiction: this avocado was not ripe but is now ripe.

Now how do these platitudes dispose of the problem of accidental change?

That would really be something if you could show that the problem of change is a pseudo-problem sired by a failure to appreciate how tenses work in English!

>>Now how do these platitudes dispose of the problem of accidental change?

What is the problem supposed to be? Do you have a clear statement of the supposed problem? You say that (1) ‘Alteration requires that one and the same thing have incompatible properties at different times’. Why is this a problem. Clearly it would be problematic to have incompatible properties at the same time. But I don’t see the faintest whiff of a problem otherwise.

Then you say (2) ‘there is something puzzling about change inasmuch as it seems to imply a contradiction. When a thing changes, it becomes different than what it was. But unless it also remains the same, we cannot speak, as we do, of one thing changing’. Why is this a problem? One thing was F, and now the very same thing is now not F. Of course, one and the same thing can have different properties at different times. Suppose F represents some colour. So we say it, i.e. the same individual is not the same colour.

Not even a hint of problems or paradox. So, please explain clearly the problem that has to be disposed of.

>>That would really be something if you could show that the problem of change is a pseudo-problem sired by a failure to appreciate how tenses work in English!

I just have, assuming you can't phrase the 'problem' in any other way :)

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