The irrelevance of the presentist/eternalist debate for the ontology of Minkowski spacetime

In Dennis Dieks (ed.), The ontology of spacetime. New York: Elsevier. pp. 93-109 (2006)
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In this paper I argue that the debate between the so-called “presentists” – according to whom only the present is real – and the “eternalists”, according to whom past present and future are equally real, has no ontological significance. In particular, once we carefully distinguish between a tensed and a tenseless sense of existence, it is difficult to find a single ontological claim on which the two parties could disagree. Since the choice of using a tense or a tenseless language is dictated by purely pragmatic reasons, we should abstain from bringing to bear pseudo-debates generated by the “tensed” or the “tenseless theories” of time on the question of understanding the philosophical implications of contemporary spacetime theories, or notions like becoming, change and persistence in time.

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Mauro Dorato
Università degli Studi Roma Tre


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