Is, was, will, might
My guiding question is this: how does what is metaphysically differ from what was, will be, or might have been? The first half of the dissertation concerns ontology: are the apparent disputes over the existence of merely past, merely future, and merely possible entities genuine and nontrivial disputes? After demarcating the various positions one might take in these disputes, I argue that the disputes are, in fact, genuine. I then offer—in the second half of the dissertation—a limited defense of presentism, the view that only present things exist. In particular, I defend presentism against one of the most significant classes of objections to it—the class of objections claiming that it cannot account for a variety of past-oriented truths. In giving this defense, I draw on insights from the dispute between modal actualists—those who hold that everything is actual— and their rivals.