- The analytic metaphysics of time is characterized by some conceptual distinctions such as “tensed” vs. “tenseless” and “A-series” vs. “B-series” which leads to many opposing views being apparently substantial and metaphysical in character (see, for instance: Mellor, 1998; Smith, 1993; Tooley, 1997).
- As in other fields of ontology, however, the debates within the philosophy of time seemingly have a common fate: at the beginning, two or more intuitively profoundly different positions are spelled out philosophically, a long-lasting debate starts, people defend their views vigorously and with highly sophisticated arguments, but after some decades the dispute reaches a stalemate.
- Then, the question arises whether there really is a substantial ontological distinction, or whether in fact the dispute is merely verbal, dissolvable by disambiguation of the relevant concepts.
- The dispute between presentists and eternalists is one paradigmatic example of this sort.
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