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Can we express the present tense without indexicality?

If so, what would that expression refer to, a present that did not chnage tense?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Swami Vishwananda, user19563, virmaior, Joseph Weissman Feb 9 '17 at 22:17

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  • how is this unclear? or off-topic? really you need to THINK before weighing in – user6917 Feb 7 '17 at 13:10
  • i just don't understand the voting here, what could be unclear above, or why i need to be asking about idk maybe metaphysics or something, to ask the question? – user6917 Feb 7 '17 at 13:28
  • I think some people might feel like this is more of a linguistics than a philosophy of language question but to that extend they could have commented as much if thats how they felt – Not_Here Feb 7 '17 at 13:39
  • @Not_Here i mean obviously there's at least an over-lap here. little different to migrating every logic question to maths, imho – user6917 Feb 7 '17 at 13:53
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From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on indexicals:

Some theorists hold that sentences containing verbs in the present tense vary not only in truth-value from time to time, but also in content, from context to context. For example, some hold that the content of ‘Fred is hungry’ at a context whose associated time is t is (roughly) that Fred be hungry at t. The variation in content is said to be due to the occurrence of ‘is’, which is context-sensitive. More generally, tense markers and tense morphology are claimed to be context-sensitive expressions.

From More Structural Analogies Between Pronouns and Tenses by Angelika Kratzer:

In the early seventies, Barbara Partee suggested that tenses in natural languages might not be operators, but pronouns. Like pronouns, they have indexical, anaphoric, and bound variable uses. In this short presentation, I will discuss one more parallel between tenses and pronouns.

Her paper then goes on to outline the other parallel she discovered. Additionally, the original paper she is referencing is here.

If we take a philosophical stance, as opposed to a purely linguistic stance, and we concern ourselves with propositions, then it is widely accepted that present tense propositions are inherently indexical. As outlined above, the argument is that the truth value of something such as "my dog is happy" can change from time t-naught to time t-one. Therefore, the propositions carry some indexical, and in certain circumstances anaphoric, structure to them. If a present tensed proposition is expressed without a use of indexicality it would still need to account for the fact the that its truth value could change at some later time, or have been different at an earlier time. The arguments above support the idea that this is synonymous with indexicality and therefore that would be impossible.

  • good (and quick) answer, thanks. what about qualitative knowledge, is that propositional? – user6917 Feb 6 '17 at 15:10
  • By qualitative knowledge do you mean something like "some apples are green" ? – Not_Here Feb 6 '17 at 15:12
  • well i meant something like knowing what apple tastes like, but i don't really know how that relates to the question, maybe this is now – user6917 Feb 6 '17 at 15:17
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    Well yeah this opens up an entirely bigger discussion about epistemology. How do you define knowing something? If we define it as being, or even as something similar to, justified true belief, then yes it can be expressed as a proposition even if its qualitative. "Some apples are green" can be a justified true belief if its justified, true, and someone believes it. The same goes for "this is now," that is a proposition and if its justifiable and true then it can be knowledge if someone believes it. – Not_Here Feb 6 '17 at 15:23
  • "This is now" is also intrinsically indexical, the object of the proposition is an indexical. – Not_Here Feb 6 '17 at 15:24