Worlds, times and selves revisited
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In Prior’s tense-logical analysis, we can avoid mentioning instants in our language by construing them as propositions of a special kind. Instead of qualifying instants by predicates, we may qualify propositions by modalities. Prior shows that by changing the informal interpretation of our modal-like language, we can similarly attempt to avoid ontological commitments to worlds (modal logic) and even to selves and other bona fide individuals (egocentric logic). As he notes, the paraphrasing strategy works too generally to be of direct metaphysical use. I wish to speak of several types of entities within one and the same language. This leads to the issue of cross-context identity: how to make sense of speaking of the same entity of one type relative to distinct entities of another type. My analysis employs the notion of world line. I discern a structure of mutually interrelated categories with three informal interpretations: tense, modal and egocentric. They correspond to different metaphysical views on the interrelations of time, logical alternatives and individuals. Prior’s dilemma regarding the possibility of modalizing, not only our talk concerning times and worlds, but even our discourse pertaining to the ‘real world of individuals’ does not vanish but reappears also in my setting.
KeywordsCross-context identity Egocentric logic Modality Time
I am indebted to the anonymous referees for their useful remarks. An earlier version of this paper was presented in the Arthur Prior Centenary Conference at Balliol College, Oxford; I am grateful for the comments received from participants.
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