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The View from Nowhen: The Mctaggart-Dummett Argument for the Unreality of Time


Years ago, Michael Dummett defended McTaggart’s argument for the unreality of time, arguing that it cannot be dismissed as guilty of an “indexical fallacy.” Recently, E. J. Lowe has disputed Dummett’s claims for the cogency of the argument. I offer an elaboration and defense of Dummett’s interpretation of the argument (though not of its soundness). I bring to bear some work on tense from the philosophy of language, and some recent work on the concept of the past as it occurs in memory, in an effort to support the claim that McTaggart is not guilty of any simple indexical fallacy. Along the way I criticize an account of what is at stake in disputes about the reality of tense due to A. W. Moore, and I argue for the superiority of the conception of tense-realism that is implicit in McTaggart’s work. The paper is intended to prepare the ground for a substantive defense of the reality of tense.

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