On language and the passage of time

Philosophical Studies 66 (1):1 - 26 (1992)
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Since the early part of this century there has been a considerable amount of discussion of the question 'Does time pass?'. A useful way of approaching the debate over the passage of time is to consider the following thesis: The space-time thesis (SPT): Time is similar to the dimensions of space in at least this one respect: there is no set of properties such that (i) these properties are possessed by time, (ii) these properties are not possessed by any dimension of space, and (iii) in virtue of time's possession of these properties it is true to say that time passes. Those who say that time does not pass generally want to affirm something like SPT. But those, on the other hand, who say that time does pass generally want to deny SPT. Of course, SPT is, as it stands, a mere skeleton of a thesis. It needs to be fleshed out. What could the relevant properties be? Why exactly would it be that in virtue of time's possession of these properties it is true to say that time passes? What exactly would it mean to say that time passes? These are all matters that require considerable discussion. The aim of this paper, however, is to take up some linguistic issues that have been considered central to the debate over the passage of time. There are two main reasons why I think it is appropriate to discuss these linguistic issues independently of the relevant metaphysical issues. The first reason is historical: many of the writers who have taken up the issue of whether or not time passes have begun their discussions by focusing on linguistic..
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