2021 Australasian Association of Philosophy Conference: What is, and what is not, presentism?, Patrick Dawson, PhD Candidate, The University of Sydney

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Presentism is traditionally defined as the theory that only present things exist. This definition depends upon a notion of what it means for something to be present, and a tempting answer is to conceive of presentness as a property. Similarly, presentists are often thought to believe in copresentness (or simultaneity), in the form of a relation. In this talk, which is based on a pair of upcoming papers, I argue that such ways of understanding presentism are misleading: they encounter specific definitional problems, they construe presentism as a more ontologically complex theory than it ought to be, and they invite us to conceive of the presentist’s world as being temporally extended, when the very motivation behind presentism is to reject temporal extension. I argue that presentism would be better defined as topological three-dimensionalism. The presentist believes that reality has three dimensions of space, and none of time. There is no temporal extension, and also no further, robust property (or relation) of presentness (or copresentness). I argue that this approach not only allows for a clear and sensible classification of theories of time, but also opens the door for novel defences of presentism against some of its best-known objections.
Period6 Jul 2021