The incompatibility of B-theory and endurantism

In document Time, causation and the laws of nature: combining the growing block view with a Humean theory of laws (Page 88-92)

So far then, I have argued that we must reject perdurantism in favour of endurantism. This alone does not give us a further reason to reject the B-theory. But this reason is supplied by the claim that the B-theory is incompatible with endurantism. I now argue for this claim.

To see why this is, first note that in order to adopt an endurantist view, one must conceieve of an object existing identically over time. This means that one and the same object literally exists at different points along the timeline. As mentioned, this applied to experiencing beings just as much as it applies to ordinary objects such as tables and chairs. Now, for the time being, let us put the problem of temporary intrinsics to one side and consider how we ordinarily think about experiential properties. We ordinarily think about them as being themselves intrinsic. For example, I am currently experiencing a computer in front of me, and this would ordinarily be considered an intrinsic property of me. And having this intrinsic experiential property is just as incompatible with having a different intrinsic

experiences going on within my consicousness - there must be one, or the other. Suppose, for example, that O is looking at a blue wall, so blueness fills O’s vision. Then suppose he turns and looks at a red wall, so redness fills O’s vision. What we get here is what we might call the problem of temporary experiential intrinsic properties:

The Problem of temporary experiential intrinsic properties 1. O at t is identical with O at t*.

2. O is having a pure blue experience at t. 3. O is having a pure red experience at t*.

4. If, for every experience F, O at t has an experience of F, iff O at t* has an experience of F, then O at t is identical to O with O at t*. [Indiscernibility of Identicals]

5. O at t is having a pure blue experience and a pure red experience.

As should now be clear, there are two solutions to this problem. One is to adopt the endurantist view that, in fact, having an experience is merely a relation between an object and a time. The other is to adopt a perdurantist view according to which there are in fact two experiencers involved in the above description having two distinct experiences. However, I have argued that perdurantist view should be rejected and the endurantist view accepted. So, let us work through the consequences of this endurantist view. The consequence is that an experience is had by each of us when we are related to a particular time. So, right now I am having the experience of a computer in front of me because I am related to the current time in which I am sat in front of the computer. If O looks at a blue wall at t, then he is related to t and so has

a pure blue experience. If O then turns to look at a red wall at t*, he then becomes related to t* and has a pure red experience. That is, to have a particular experience is to be related to a particular time in which the experience takes place.

But now, ask: can the B-theoriest make sense of this endurantist view? I do not think they can. To see why note that the above solution only works with regards to our experiences if we can make sense of the idea that there is some priviliged moment of time that we are related to. If we are related to each moment of time that we exist at in just the same way, then this view would still entail that we would be having multiple experiential states. That is, it is only if we can suppose that we are

first related to one time, and then related to another, and so on, that we can make

sense of the idea that one and only one experience occurs within our consciousness. If we exist identically over time, and have different changing experiences, and are never to be subject to two incompatible experiences, as is required by endurantism, then there must be some sense that our relations to different times changes. And this sense can only be provided by the A-theory. According to the B-theory, we bear relations to times tenselessly. So, right now it would be true that O bears a certain relation to t sufficient to give rise to a blue experience, and a certain relation to t* sufficient to give rise to a blue experience. And so, if the B-theory is true, even if it adopts the relational account of intrinsic properties, it must still say that O has both a blue and a red experience going on. And so, for this reason, I conclude that the B- theory is incompatible with the endurantist solution to the problem of temporary intrinsics, and with enduratism itself.


In this chapter I have argued that endurantism should be accepted, and that the B- theory is incompatible with it, and so should be rejected. Combined with the conclusion of the last chapter, that the B-theory cannot account for the flow of time, this gives us a very strong reason indeed to reject the B-theory outright. In fact, it should now be clear that the last chapter and this one were interlinked. The primary reason why the B-theory fails is that it fails to account for the fact that we experiencing agents that persist identically over time, and have a flow of experience that changes as we do so. The A-theory, by contrast, can explain this. They can account for our existence of time in terms of endurantism, and explain how we, as experiencing agents, undergo changes in our experiences. It is the flow of time itself that brings us into relations with different times, one after another, and gives rise to our rich constantly changing experiential lives.

In document Time, causation and the laws of nature: combining the growing block view with a Humean theory of laws (Page 88-92)