Imprints in time: towards a moderately robust past

Philosophical Studies 175 (10):2429-2446 (2018)
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Presentism says that only present objects exist. But the view has trouble grounding past-tensed truths like “dinosaurs existed”. Standard Eternalism grounds those truths by positing the existence of past objects—like dinosaurs. But Standard Eternalism conflicts with the intuition that there is genuine change—the intuition that there once were dinosaurs and no longer are any. I offer a novel theory of time—‘The Imprint’—that does a better job preserving both the grounding and genuine change intuitions. The Imprint says that the past and present exist, but where the present exhibits mass-energy, the past only consists of curved empty regions of spacetime. We therefore avoid saying that there are dinosaurs, since there is no mass-energy in the past; but the curvature of the past gives us a way to ground the truth that “dinosaurs existed”.
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