Anti-Metaphysicalism, Necessity, and Temporal Ontology


  • I would like to thank the following people for helpful feedback on earlier versions of this paper: Talia Bettcher, Ross Cameron, Matti Eklund, Eli Hirsch, Robert Jones, Uriah Kriegel, David Pitt, Josh Rasmussen, Mike Raven, Shel Smith, Wai-hung Wong, and Steve Yablo.  Also, versions of this paper were presented at the University of Leeds, the Central European University, Chico State, and Cal State, L.A. I would like to thank the members of those audiences for their comments and questions.


This paper argues for a certain kind of anti-metaphysicalism about the temporal ontology debate, i.e., the debate between presentists and eternalists over the existence of past and future objects. Three different kinds of anti-metaphysicalism are defined—namely, non-factualism, physical-empiricism, and trivialism. The paper argues for the disjunction of these three views. It is then argued that trivialism is false, so that either non-factualism or physical-empiricism is true. Finally, the paper ends with a discussion of whether we should endorse non-factualism or physical-empiricism. An initial reason is provided for thinking that non-factualism might be true, but in the end, the paper leaves this question open. The paper also argues against a certain kind of necessitarianism about the temporal ontology debate; but this isn't an extra job—the falsity of this necessitarian view falls out of the other arguments as a sort of corollary.