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Leibniz's non-tensed theory of time

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Leibniz's philosophy of time, often seen as a precursor to current forms of relationalism and causal theories of time, has rightly earned the admiration of his more recent counterparts in the philosophy of science. In this article, I examine Leibniz's philosophy of time from a new perspective: the role that tense and non-tensed temporal properties/relations play in it. Specifically, I argue that Leibniz's philosophy of time is best (and non-anachronistically) construed as a non-tensed theory of time, one that dispenses with tensed temporal properties such as past, present, and future. In arguing for this thesis, I focus on the three facets of Leibniz's philosophy most relevant for evaluating his commitment to a B-theory of time: (1) the nature of change, (2) the reality of the future, and (3) the truth-conditions for tensed temporal statements. Despite prima facie evidence to the contrary, I show that a close examination of Leibniz's views on these topics provides compelling evidence for interpreting his philosophy of time as a B-theory of time.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2002

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