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Cycle de Conférences

Dean Zimmerman

(Rutgers University, Directeur d'études associé à l'EHESS)

"The Philosophy of Time"


Dean Zimmerman (Rutgers University) received his Ph.D. from Brown University in 1992, writing a thesis on mereological essentialism under the direction of Roderick Chisholm.  His publications include over 50 articles in scholarly journals and books, exploring the metaphysics of physical objects and human persons, the “A-theory” of time, and God’s relationship to the temporal order. He is writing a book on the philosophy of religion for the Princeton Foundations of Philosophy series, and has edited numerous volumes, including the ongoing series Oxford Studies in Metaphysics.


Lundi 23 mai 2016 de 16h à 18h - ENS, 29, rue d'Ulm 75005 Paris, Salle Langevin

McTaggart and the A-theory–B-theory Distinction

McTaggart is rightly credited with bringing into focus a distinction between metaphysical theories of time that do take the distinctions between past, present, and future seriously ; and theories that do not. Adopting his terminology, contemporary philosophers call the former « A-theories » and the latter « B-theories ». McTaggart’s arguments against both (and for the impossibility of time) are unimpressive, but his distinction remains important. Traditional philosophical thinking about time tends to favor the A-theory, but the B-theory of time became the default position during the 20th century. More recently, numerous varieties of the A-theory are once again being defended with considerable vigor. They come in radically different forms, each with its own set of problems.

Lundi 30 mai 2016 de 16h à 18h - ENS, 29, rue d'Ulm 75005 Paris - Salle Langevin

Skepticism about the A-Theory–B-Theory Distinction

Sometimes metaphysical disputes turn out to be nothing more than disagreements about how to use words ; and many philosophers have felt that the (supposed) disagreement between A-theories of time and B-theories of time is a case in point. After coming to feel the force of this skeptical worry, the determined metaphysician can still find grounds for disagreement by relying upon the idea that there are « logical joints in nature » (to use Sider’s phrase), and noting that the skepticism threatens to undermine even the distinction between modal realists and actualists.

Lundi 6 juin 2016 de 17h à 19h - EHESS (salle Dupront) - 10 rue Monsieur Le Prince, 75006 Paris.

Presentism and Divine Eternity

Presentism is one of the most popular A-theories of time. It faces numerous obstacles, however, including difficulties about how to express truths involving non-present individuals. The theory also appears, at least initially, to be incompatible with the doctrine that God is « outside of time », yet timelessly sustaining and knowing about things within the temporal order. Attempts to overcome presentism’s problems will be surveyed, and a way to combine presentism with divine atemporality will be explored.