, Volume 191, Issue 6, pp 1085-1104
Date: 12 Jul 2013

The existence of the past

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Abstract

My goal in this paper is to address what I call the ‘Incoherence’ objection to the growing universe theory of time. At the root of the objection is the thought that one cannot wed objective temporal becoming with the existence of a tenseless past—which is apparently what the growing universe theorist tries to do. To do so, however, is to attribute both dynamic and static aspects to time, and, given the mutual exclusivity of these two aspects—so the thought goes—incoherence results. My solution to the problem is to offer an alternative account of past existence that is compatible with a dynamic conception of time. I take as my starting point Adams’ suggestion that the past exists in virtue of the existence of thisnesses of past individuals. I first seek to defend this suggestion, before amending it in order to provide a satisfactory response to the Incoherence objection. The result is a new growing universe theory which avoids the Incoherence objection but which has some surprising features of its own. Chief among these is the rejection of present events. I argue, however, that such a rejection is a necessary consequence of endorsing the growing universe theory, and that it is not as counter-intuitive as it initially sounds.