Richard Gale, The Language of Time, International Library of Philosophy and Scientific Method (London: Routledge, Kegan & Paul, 1968 ), p. 55.
L. Nathan Oaklander, “A Defense of the New Tenseless Theory of Time,” Philosophical Quarterly 41 (1991): 26–27. For other conscious rejections of the Old B-Theory by New B-theorists, see Jeremy Butterfield, “Indexicals and Tense,” in Exercises in Analysis, ed. Ian Hacking (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp. 69–87; Michelle Beer, “Temporal Indexicals and the Passage of Time,” Philosophical Quarterly 38 (1988): 158–164. For an anthology on the New B-Theory, see L. Nathan Oaklander and Quentin Smith, eds., The New Theory of Time ( New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994 ).
Gale, Language of Time, pp. 55–56.
D. H. Mellor, Real Time ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981 ), p. 45.
Quentin Smith, Language and Time (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), p. 69; cf his earlier essay “Problems with the New Tenseless
Theory of Time,“ Philosophical Quarterly 52 (1987): 371–392.
For a similar point concerning spatial indexicals, see David H. Sanford, critical notice of Real Time, by D. H. Mellor, Philosophical Review 93 (1984): 290–291.
Herein lies Oaklander’s error; he fails to specify which token of S the tenseless sentence is referring to. If one insists that the type S does occur in time, then none of the S; have the same truth conditions as any of the R;, since the former refer to tokens and the latter to the type. This will be of no help to Mellor, however, for the problem resurfaces upon our asking for the truth conditions of, say, S,, which will be that S, occurs in 1980. We may then inquire as to the truth conditions of“ S1 occurs in 1980.”
Oaklander himself comes to propose a similar modification of Mellor’s theory: “…tensed and tenseless sentence-types have tokens with different truth conditions, while…tensed and tenseless sentence tokens themselves have the same truth conditions” (Oaklander, “Defense,” p. 30). This statement of the theory is very ambiguous, however, and does not take cognizance of the fact that only the 1980 tokens of S have the same truth conditions as the tokens of R.
In his response to Oaklander, Smith charges that the latter has misunderstood Mellor’s theory, since that theory holds that tensed and tenseless sentence tokens have different truth conditions (Smith, Language and Time, p. 70–71). But this time it is Smith who misinterprets Mellor, for in the passage Smith cites, the varying versus unvarying truth conditions referred to are each of a single type respectively. As the Figures in our text illustrate, the truth conditions of the S, are varying, while the truth conditions of the R; are unvarying. Thus, the “modification” is in line with Mellor’s theory.
A more plausible route for Mellor to take would be to distinguish between the rule of use of a token, which is given by the tenseless truth conditions, and the linguistic meaning of the token, which is the same for all tokens and the type they exemplify. But then it would also seem necessary to distinguish propositional content from linguistic meaning, since “It is now raining” tokened on one date does not have the same information value as it does when tokened on another date. But then matters of fact become more closely aligned with propositional content rather than linguistic meaning, and thus different tokens having the same meaning may express different facts. What reason would there be, then, to think that tensed and tenseless tokens express the same facts? Because they are both given the same rule of use? How does having the same rule of use prove that two tokens express the same propositional content?
Now simultaneity with its subject matter is the defining truth condition of a present tense judgment, as opposed to a past or future tense one; so if I am thinking of my actions or experiences as happening while I am thinking of them, I am ipso facto thinking of them as being present. And that, I suggest, is all there is to the much vaunted presentness of our experience. Experiences in themselves, like events of every other kind, are neither past, present, nor future. It is only our simultaneous consciousness of them, as being simultaneous, which necessarily both has, and satisfies, the tenseless truth conditions of present tense judgments“ (D. H. Mellor, ”McTaggart, fixity, and coming true,“ in Reduction, Time and Reality, ed. Richard Healey [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981 ], p. 88 ).
Mellor seems to be saying that the presentness of experience amounts to no more than my thinking of my experiences as simultaneous with themselves. But this seems a patently inadequate explanation of why certain of my range of experiences are apprehended as present.
If “The present experience is present” is said attributively, then the sentence is trivial for A- and B-theorist alike. If it is used referentially, then the B-theorist can only state that this statement is necessarily true in the sense that the designated experience is self-simultaneous. But he offers nothing to explain why we experience that moment, not merely as self-simultaneous (it is always that), but as present. By contrast, the A-theorist explains that we apprehend the designated experiences as present because they, and they alone, really are present, that is, they exist at the unique time which is ontologically present.
Murray MacBeath, “Mellor’s Emeritus Headache,” Ratio 25 (1983): 86–87.
D. H. Mellor, “MacBeath’s Soluble Aspirin,” Ratio 25 (1983): 92.
Smith, Language and Time, p. 90; idem, “Problems with the New Tenseless Theory,” pp. 374–384. Smith sometimes makes the tensed tokens synonymous, but dissimilar, e.g., “It is now 1980” and “1980 is present.” Two synonymous sentence types are thus being tokened. But I do not see that this move contributes anything to the argument, since on the New B-Theory it is tokens which are the truth-bearers and recipients of truth conditions, so that even two similar tokens must have distinct token-reflexive truth conditions, as Smith comes to see in his revised version of the argument.
L. Nathan Oaklander, “The New Tenseless Theory of Time: a Reply to Smith,” Philosophical Studies 58 (1990): 288.
Ibid., p. 290. Smith in his response to Oaklander (Smith, Language and Time, p. 13), errs in thinking that the New B-Theory draws ontological conclusions about the nature of time from the analysis it provides of tensed sentences’ truth conditions. That analysis is primarily defensive (though some B-theorists may occasionally rashly claim more) in nature; the positive case for a B-theoretic ontology of time leans primarily on McTaggart’s Paradox. Smith is correct that New B-theorists aim to construct a language that gives in truth condition sentences the meanings and entailments in a natural language, but Oaklander does not deny that—he denies that a logical entailment between two sentences corresponds to an ontological connection between things in the world.
Smith, Language and Time, p. 99. 1 have altered some of Smith’s stylistic conventions expressing tenseless and tensed verbs.
Graham Priest, “Tense and Truth Conditions,” Analysis 46 (1986): 162–166; D. H. Mellor, “Tense’s Tenseless Truth Conditions,” Analysis 46 (1986): 167–172
Graham Priest, “Tense, Tense, and TENSE,” Analysis 47 (1987): 184–187.
See also Gilbert Plumer, “Expressions of Passage,” Philosophical Quarterly 37 (1987): 345
E. J. Lowe, The Possibility of Metaphysics ( Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998 ), pp. 90–91.
This serves to answer Smith’s question, “To what do the future tense propositions about future free decisions correspond?” (Quentin Smith, critical notice of Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom, by Wm. L. Craig, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 53 [19931: 494–495; cf. idem, “General Introduction: The Implications of the Tensed and Tenseless Theories of Time,” in New Theory of Time, p. 9). What I meant by the reality referred to by the future-tense proposition was the things and events described by the proposition. Some A-theorists hold that because these concrete realities do not presently exist, a view of truth as correspondence requires that future-tense propositions about them fail to be true or false. My point was that correspondence requires only that they will exist. But I do not deny that there are tensed states of affairs corresponding to such propositions which presently obtain. However, we need not borrow a B-theoretic ontology in order for tensed states of affairs to obtain; see my remarks on Smith’s view in chap. 6.
See Paul Helm, “Timelessness and Foreknowledge,” Mind 84 (1975): 524–527.
So does Mark Hinchliff, “McTaggart, Change, and Real Tense: A Critical Notice of Hugh Mellor’s Real Time II,” in Essays on Time and Related Topics, ed. L. Nathan Oaklander, Selected Papers of the Philosophy of Time Society Proceedings, 1995–1999, p. 44. It is astonishing that Hinchliff, as an avowed presentist, can think that a sentence token uttered in the past and which therefore does not exist has a truth value—not to mention a truth value different from that which it possessed when the token was present!
Smith, Language and Time, p. 103–104.
Smith holds that A-sentences express token-independent tensed propositions which change truth value over time and are therefore temporal. Although I have been speaking of the propositions expressed by A-sentences, I do not mean to prejudge the views of philosophers who shun propositions in favor of self-ascription of properties. My main intention has been to criticize the token-reflexive analysis, and our final position will have to take account of non-propositional analyses.
Mellor, Real Time, p. 77. Recall, too, that in the case of complex tensed sentences, Mellor’s truth conditions concern a present-tense sentence which would be true if it were tokened.
Butterfield, “Indexicals and Tense,” pp. 70–74. So also Zdzislaw Augustynek, Time: Past, Present, Future, trans. Stanislaw Semczuk and Witold Strawinski, Nijhoff International Philosophy Series 30 ( Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991 ), p. 110.
Butterfield, “Indexicals and Tense,” pp. 73–74.
Mellor, Real Time, p. 34. “…I subscribe to the so-called `token-reflexive’ account of what makes tensed statements true or false, an account which lets me keep objective tensed truths and falsehoods while rejecting objectively tensed things, events, and facts” (Ibid., pp. 5–6). Cf. Mellor, “Fixity and coming true,” p. 87; idem, “Tense’s Tenseless Truth Conditions,” p. 171; idem, “I and Now,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 89 (1988–89): 81; idem, “An Interview with Professor Hugh Mellor,” Cogito 7 (1993): 5. Even Priest, zealous to disprove tenseless facts, succumbs to this confusion: “We say what makes a sentence true, if it is, by giving its truth conditions. Thus, if we can spell out the truth conditions of all sentences (true or false) without mentioning a notion, that notion is certainly not part of reality” (Priest, “Tense and Truth Conditions,” p. 162). That Priest can give tensed truth conditions even to tenseless sentences and thereby eliminate tenseless facts constitutes in my mind a reductio of the conflation of truth conditions and grounds of truth.
Robin Le Poidevin, Change, Cause, and Contradiction: A Defence of the Tenseless Theory of Time, Macmillan Studies in Contemporary Philosophy (London: Macmillan, 1991 ), pp. 13, 4.
Oaklander, “Defense,” p. 27; idem, “New Tenseless Theory,” p. 290.
Murray MacBeath, “Omniscience and Eternity I,” Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 63 (1989): 61.
Keith Seddon, Time: a Philosophical Treatment ( London: Croon Helm, 1987 ), p. 51.
On truth makers see the seminal piece by Kevin Mulligan, Peter Simons, and Barry Smith, “Truth-Makers,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 44 (1984): 287–321.
They trace the roots of the notion of truth makers to the realist revival during the early part of the twentieth century. For thinkers like Russell, Wittgenstein, and Husserl there must be, in addition to truth bearers, whether these be sentences, propositions, or whatever, entities in virtue of which sentences and/or propositions are true. Such entities are variously identified as facts, states of affairs, etc. The discovery of a sentence’s truth maker is quite a different exercise than the specification of its truth conditions, as is immediately evident from the fact that many types of true sentences have no truth makers. Cf. apropos remarks by John Perry on the varieties of truth conditions in A Companion to the Philosophy of Language, ed. Robert Hale and Crispin Wright, s.v. “Indexicals and Demonstratives” (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1997), pp. 586–612. G0 Mellor, Real Time, p. 75.
Alvin Plantinga, “Reply to Robert Adams,” in Alvin Plantinga, ed. James Tomberlin, Profiles 5 ( Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1985 ), p. 378.
See Nathan Salmon, “Reference and Information Content: Names and Descriptions,” in Handbook of Philosophical Logic, vol. 4: Topics in the Philosophy of Language, ed. D. Gabbay and F. Guenther, Synthèse Library 167 (Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1989), pp. 411–412, but especially idem, “Tense and Singular Propositions,” in Themes from Kaplan, ed. Joseph Almog, John Perry, and Howard Wettstein ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1989 ), pp. 362–366.
Salmon points out that tense operators are not extensional operators by means of the following example: “2+2=5” and “It is cloudy” are equally false with respect to my actual context. But the tense operator “sometimes” has different consequences when these sentences are placed in its scope: “Sometimes 2+2=5” is false, but “Sometimes it is cloudy” is true. Since “sometimes” + present tense is not truth functional, it cannot be extensional. Salmon also points out that tense operators are not intensional either in the sense of being a function from a proposition to a truth value. For example, the sentences “The senior senator from California is a Republican” and “The present senior senator from Califomia is a Republican” both have the same intension, or express the same proposition. But the sentences “Sometimes the senior senator from Califomia is a Republican” and “Sometimes the present senior senator from California is a Republican” express different propositions due to the need for double indexing of the latter, the former sentence being true and the latter false. Salmon therefore regards tense operators as super-intensional operators operating on propositional matrices, e.g., the senior senator from California and the property of being a Republican.
Roger Wertheimer, “Conditions,” Journal of Philosophy 65 (1968): 355–364; Jaegwon Kim, “Noncausal Connections,” Noús 8 (1974): 41–52.
Eg., Smith, Language and Time, sec. 4. 3. Since, however, I reject Smith’s account of tensed truth conditions in favor of Priest’s, I do not agree with Smith’s reasons for the explanatory primacy of tensed facts. Nevertheless, the fact that tensed sentences require tensed truth conditions serves to answer the challenge of Clifford Williams, “The Date Analysis of Tensed Sentences,” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 70 (1992): 199–200, that A-theorists must show that tensed and tenseless sentences differ not merely in their meanings, but in the states of affairs they describe. Williams appears to allow that tensed and tenseless sentences may have different truth conditions, but holds that the state of affairs described by a tensed sentence and its tenseless date-sentence counterpart may be the same, so that tensed facts have not been shown to exist. But a closer reading of Williams’s remarks on p. 199 reveals that he both confuses truth conditions with the conditions requisite for our knowing certain sentence tokens to be true (i.e., alethic with cognitive conditions) and conflates truth conditions with sentences’ meanings. In fact, Williams never states what the truth conditions for either tensed or tenseless sentences are. If he accepts Mellor’s account, how does he remedy its defects? If he rejects it, what does he propose in its stead? Our demonstration that tensed sentences require tensed truth conditions shows that the states of affairs described by tensed sentences do differ from those described by tenseless sentences (and this whether or not they make the sentences true). Against this argument, Williams poses a to quogue riposte based on spatial indexicals, which we shall discuss in chap. 4.
D. H. Mellor, Real Time II (London: Routledge, 1998) pp. xi, 32.
See, for example, the critique by Greg Restall, “Truthmakers, Entailment and Necessity,” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (1996): 331–340. In his “Truthmaker Realism,” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 77 (1999): forthcoming, Barry Smith rejects the original theory crafted by Mulligan, Simons, and Smith, along with what he calls “truthmaker maximalism,” the doctrine that every truth has a truth maker. In particular he makes the provocative suggestion that past-and future-tensed, contingent sentences may not have truth makers but had or will have truth makers.
Mellor, Real Time II, pp. 23, xi.
For another attempt to rescue the New B-Theory by appeal to sentence types, see L. A. Paul, “Truth Conditions of Tensed Sentence Types,” Synthèse 111 (1997): 53–71 and the critiques by Quentin Smith, “The `Sentence-Type Version’ of the Tenseless Theory of Time,” Synthèse (forthcoming); William Lane Craig, “On the Truth Conditions of Tensed Sentence Types,” Synthèse (forthcoming).
Mellor, Real Time II, pp. 29–30.
Recall our discussion in chap. 1, pp. 6–9.
The same problems attend Tooley’s formulation of the Indexed B-Theory (Tooley, Time, Tense and Causation, pp. 200–201). According to Tooley, any utterance, at time t*, of the sentence “Event E is now occurring” is true at time t = It is true at time t that E lies in the present at time t*. This analysis provides neither truth conditions nor truth makers for “E is now occurring.”