The Identity of the Past
Hinchliff (Mark)
Source: Campbell, O'Rourke & Silverstein - Time and Identity, I - Time, Chapter 4
Paper - Abstract

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  1. Worries beset the presentist if we take him at his word that no past and future individuals exist. How do we yet claim that Lincoln was shot by Booth and that the earth will orbit the sun?
  2. Mark Hinchliff addresses this question, locating "property presentism" as the principle responsible for these worries. Roughly speaking, this principle says that if something has a property, that something exists.
  3. Put that way, it seems impossible to deny. Hinchliff weakens its hold over presentists by exploring the analogous relation between actualism (the view that only actual entities exist) and property actualism. He argues that the analogy breaks down when we take a certain view about the difference between the past and the future (on some presentist's lights): whereas the future, like the merely possible, is "irreducibly general" (resisting cross-time or cross-world identifications), the past "has a full identificatory structure of particular instances underlying it" (104).
  4. This point opens the door to an extensive batch of apparent counterexamples to property presentism. And as its fortunes wane, so does the force of the problems surrounding referring to past people and events.

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Taken from p. 13 of "Slater (Matthew H.) - Framing the Problems of Time and Identity", footnotes removed (for now).

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