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Saturday, May 11, 2019

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This discussion seems also to engage with the logical presentist’s challenge to give a non-trivial sense to presentism. Suppose we define *exists as meaning ‘exists, or existed, or will exist’. Then it is true that Boethius no longer exists, although he *exists. But presumably not true in the sense that the metaphysical presentist wants, since it is trivially true. Right?

Yes, but it is tricky. The following are both unproblematically true:

1. Boethius no longer exists.

2. Boethius *exists in the following disjunctive sense: he existed or he exists or he will exist.

(2) is true because the first disjunct is true.

The metaphysical presentist needs a sense of 'exist' that allows him to engage the eternalist and disagree with him. They must agree about what 'exists' means if they are to disagree about what exists. Now which sense of 'exists' is that? Can't be the disjunctive sense.

The eternalist says that past, present, and future items all (tenselessly) exist. Now if tenseless 'exists' = disjunctive 'exists,' then we hit a snag:

The presentist denies that Boethius tenselessly exists. So, given the above equation, the presentist denies that (Boethius existed or exists or will exist). Trouble is, he doesn't and he can't.

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