Tuesday, October 17, 2006

presentism fought the law and the law won

There’s loads of stuff I’ve got to get done today. Hence, I am procrastinating and writing more silly blog posts.

Does anyone know that content of the law against denying the Holocaust in countries like Austria? Is it enough to deny the truth of or must one assert the negation of it? I was thinking of a presentist who treats the past like Aristotle treats the future. So you think that only the present exists, and because you’re convinced by the truthmaker objection, you bite the bullet and hold that there’re no truths concerning the past or the future. So isn’t true. Nor is it false: it simply lacks a truth value. If I defend that view in Austria, will I get in trouble?

I heard Ned Markosian defend a presentist view whereby propositions concerning the past or the future are true to a certain degree, depending on how many of the possible (given the present laws of nature and the way things presently are) pasts/futures are the way the proposition says they are. So if every possible past is such that p then it is true that p was the case, but if only some possible pasts are such that p then it is true to some degree n (such that n is between zero and one) that p was the case. If Ned went to Austria and defended that view would he be in trouble to degree n?

This is a flippant point, of course; but behind it lies a more serious one: just what do laws that impose a limit on freedom of speech make illegal? If they infringe on academic freedom, that doesn’t appear to me to be a very good thing.

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