, Volume 72, Issue 2, pp 267–280 | Cite as

The Tenseless Copula in Temporal Predication

Original Article


In this paper I explore how the tenseless copula is to be interpreted in sentences of the form “a is F at t”, where “a” denotes a persisting, changeable object, “F” stands for a prima facie intrinsic property and “t” for a B-time. I argue that the interpretation of the copula depends on the logical role assigned to the time clause. Having rejected the idea that the time clause is to be treated as a sentence operator, I argue: (1) that if “at t” is thought of as being associated with “a” or “F”, then the tenseless copula is most plausibly read as an “is” simpliciter; and (2) that if “at t” is treated as being associated with the copula, then the tenseless copula is most plausibly understood as expressing a disjunction of tensed copulas. I end the paper by explaining the importance of the issue. I indicate the ramifications interpretation of the tenseless copula has for the so-called problem of temporary intrinsics.



The bulk of this paper was written during a visit to the Centre for Time at the Department of Philosophy, University of Sydney, Australia, July–December 2006, funded by STINTThe Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education. I am indebted to John Cusbert for his helpful comments. The paper was subsequently presented at the Higher Seminar in Theoretical Philosophy, Lund University, Sweden, March 2007; I thank the participants for helpful discussion. Anna-Sofia Maurin, Erik J. Olsson, Paul Robinson, Nils-Eric Sahlin and Lena Wahlberg also read the whole manuscript and gave me very valuable feedback. Finally, I want to express my gratitude to the two anonymous referees for Erkenntnis for their constructive criticism.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyLund UniversityLundSweden

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