Certain apparent common problems arise in both the philosophy of mind and philosophy of time. In the qualia debate in the philosophy of mind, for instance, one finds dualists claiming victory over physicalists in virtue of the apparent incompleteness of a purely physicalist view of the world. Similarly, in the philosophy of time, one finds tensed (or A-) theorists claiming victory over tenseless (or B-) theorists in virtue of the apparent incompleteness of a purely tenseless view of the world. The aim of this work is to show that the various considerations and intuitions offered in the tensed theory's favor – much of which derives from this sort of apparent incompleteness which I here call the Gap – and which are supposed to at the very least show that the tensed view is the default or common sense view, do not in fact do any of that work they supposedly do. These considerations and intuitions do not in fact support the tensed view or its supposed status as the default or common-sense view in the debate. Chapter 1 begins by introducing the tensed-tenseless debate and defending its intelligibility and substantiveness from various detractors.
The Gap itself becomes the focus of Chapter 2. There I describe how this Gap manifests itself in three (overlapping, interlocking) primary arenas. In the epistemic arena, the apparent epistemic incompleteness of physicalist or tenseless views becomes the basis of various kinds of modal, knowledge, or conceivability arguments against physicalist or tenseless views. In the experiential arena, the apparent inability of physicalists or tenseless theorists to "do justice" to our experience often becomes the basis for the intuitive rejection of their respective theories. And in the practical arena, the apparent inability of physicalist or tenseless views to explain or ground the rationality of certain actions or attitudes – including our asymmetric attitudes towards past and future – also become the basis for certain arguments against physicalist or tenseless views.
There are a number of possible ways in which physicalist or tenseless theorists could respond to these arguments, all explored in Chapter 3, the most plausible being a kind of combined strategy (the Unified Strategy ) which undermines the evidential power of the Gap by explaining it away in purely physicalist or tenseless terms, relying on the idea that we have particular, perspectival ways of accessing the world. Bits and pieces of such a strategy can be found in the literature but (at least in the temporal case) rarely in combination as part as a unified, coherent strategic whole. However, I maintain, even in light of a successful use of this strategy, a dualist or tensed theorist can plausibly claim that the Gap at least still does this much – it makes the dualist or tensed view the more natural or default position (since they supposedly have no trouble with the Gap), thereby shifting the ultimate burden of proof onto the physicalist or tenseless theorist.
What I go on to show in Chapter 4, however, is that the dualist or tensed theorist has the same or similar problems with the Gap as those which afflict their opponents. And the strategies available to the dualist or tensed theorist to get out of these are in fact equally available to the physicalist or tenseless theorist. Again, bits and pieces of this fact have been noted in the literature, but only in very specific instances and never in a comprehensive way as applying across the board for all aspects of the Gap and all tensed theories. The dualist or tensed theorist's most plausible strategy, it turns out, is identical to the Unified Strategy mentioned previously. Since no view of time can quite address the Gap in the way demanded by some tensed theorists, the root of the Gap is likely to be in the ways we encounter the world rather than in the metaphysical nature of time itself.
If in the tensed-tenseless debate both sides in fact can make use of these strategies, however, then considerations from the Gap provide no evidence whatsoever against the tenseless view, nor is the tensed view somehow the default. Focusing on the philosophy of time, I develop in Chapter 5 an account of what tense is and why we need tensed representations in the first place, this latter being something which I argue has not yet been successfully attempted (and only once or twice been even unsuccessfully attempted) despite the pressing need to do so. Having shown that we do need tensed representations and why (and in what sense) that is so, I use the results of that investigation in Chapter 6 to build the beginnings of an account of why there is this Gap at all, an account that promises to be neutral between and usable by both tensed and tenseless theorists.