Does time pass?
My topic is the question 'Does time pass?'. Although much has been written in attempts to answer this question, not enough attention has been paid to the asking of the question itself. As a result, it has not been clear exactly what is at issue in this matter, and, consequently, it has not been clear just what are the different views available to one who wishes to give an answer to the question. I hope to ameliorate this situation.
The aims of my essay are: (i) to state the issues involved in the controversy over temporal passage in a fruitful way; (ii) to formulate what I see as the leading candidates among the possible responses to those issues; and (iii) to consider the best arguments relevant to the choice among these alternative views.
Roughly one-quarter of the essay is devoted to linguistic questions about time and tense. Another quarter is devoted to metaphysical matters involving the status of such putative properties as pastness, presentness and futurity. What emerge are not just two but, rather, five distinct views about whether or not time passes: one view, which I call the 4D view, to the effect that time does not pass, and four different views, which I call the 3D views, to the effect that time does pass. Each of these five views consists of a package of linguistic and metaphysical components.
Once I have formulated these five different views, I present, for each of the five views, a formal language, with semantics, that would be appropriate for that view. Next, various arguments that have been suggested in the literature against the claim that time passes are considered as arguments against the 3D views; each such argument is found to be defective. Similarly, various arguments that have been suggested in the literature against the claim that time does not pass are considered as arguments against the 4D view; each of these arguments is also found to be defective.
Finally, I explain why I prefer a certain one of the 3D views over its four rivals, and I consider some possible objections to that view.