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It's a jungle out there: Presentism, surrogate entities and Meinongian ontology

Suppose that presentism accepts: (1) that only present objects exist; (2) that truth supervenes on being; and (3) that there are true propositions about the past. If past objects do not exist and truth supervenes on being, then no truth-maker exists to make a past-tense proposition true. There seems to be no way for the presentist to accept all three claims. Call this the ‘central problem’. In response to the central problem, some presentists have recommended that presently existing surrogate entities, such as Lucretian properties or thisnesses, stand in place for the missing truth-makers. Thus, a past-tense proposition has as its truth-maker a presently existing surrogate. This resolves the central problem for the presentist because surrogates will act as the truth-maker of past-tense propositions and will exclude any reference to past non-existent entities. Whilst I do not want to challenge the introduction of surrogate entities into the presentist’s universe, I would like to consider a consequence such an introduction has on the presentist’s ontology. If the presentist admits surrogate entities into their ontology, then they are ontologically committed to something that stands in place for non-existent wholly past objects; something that populates an alternative mode of being. Moreover, I show how problematic it is for the presentist to conflate once-actual objects, such as Julius Caesar, with never-actual objects, such as unicorns, and, thereby, force the presentist to admit non-existent objects into their ontology by distinguishing between the modes of nonbeing that these different kinds of objects occupy. To maintain a commitment to (1)-(3), the presentist must be prepared to accept a bloated Meinongian ontology, a consequence that they may find very unpalatable.
Type of thesis
Young, B. D. (2019). It’s a jungle out there: Presentism, surrogate entities and Meinongian ontology (Thesis, Master of Arts (MA)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/12735
The University of Waikato
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