Academic year
Sven Rosenkranz
Department of Philosophy
Universitat de Barcelona
Master courses
Module 7. Issues in Contemporary Theoretical and Practical Philosophy
2015-02-19 - 2015-05-21
Thu. 11-14
Room 402, Facultat de Filosofia, UB


The aim of this course is to introduce students to the basic elements of tense logic and to explore central topics in the philosophy of time and their bearing on tense logic. Tense logic proceeds from the key idea that, at the level of logical analysis, tense inflections are fruitfully conceived to work like logical operators operating on present-tensed clauses. Thus, for instance, ‘Something bothered me’ and ‘A year from now Putin will have come to his senses’ are respectively analysed as ‘Something is such that it was the case that it is bothering me’ and ‘In a year’s time it will be the case that it was the case that Putin is coming to his senses’. Once tensed statements have been analysed in these ways, certain philosophical questions about time come into clearer view. Thus we can now ask the general question whether the present-tensed atoms of tense-logic are capable of being true simpliciter, so that the cross-temporal variation in their truth-value can rightly be seen as registering objective changes in reality itself. And we can likewise ask more specific questions such as: If something is presently the case, was it always going to be the case? If it once was the case that something is a certain way, is there now something that once was that way? If it is never going to be the case that p, is it therefore always going to be the case that not-p? Different answers to such philosophical questions motivate development of different tense-logical systems; and the course will be concerned to study both the metaphysical and the logical issues arising in this context.

A detailed programme will be distributed on the first day of class.


There will be one 3-hour class per week. Each class will consist of two parts: a lecture-style exposition and a seminar-style discussion. The assigned texts will for the most part be taken from the two books by Arthur Prior mentioned below. But there will also be other readings. It is expected that students study each assigned text carefully in advance and prepare questions for discussion in class. Attendance is obligatory. The material will be made available online.


Participation in class will be evaluated in terms of regular attendance, quality of preparation, and quality of contributions to the discussion. The final essay, with a word limit of 3000 words, will be due some time after the end of the course. Students will be required to choose one question from a set list that will be made available during the course.


Intended Learning Outcomes:

CB6. Students should be able to engage in an informed and critical way with advanced texts in the philosophy of temporal logic both on the discursive and the formal level.

CB9. Students should be able to present their knowledge and their arguments to specialized audiences in a coherent and articulate way.

CG2. Students should be able to conceive and carry out projects in their area of ​​expertise.

CG3. Students should be able to engage both in general and specific discussions in the area of the philosophy of temporal logic. They should be able to contribute to a philosophical discussion, both orally and in print, ​by advancing arguments in favour of particular positions while also anticipating objections and taking those into account.

CG4. Students should be able to work both independently and in a team, in an international environment, which involves speaking and writing English at conference level and interacting with individuals that may have a different background in terms of cultural presuppositions and academic training.

CG5. Students should be able to identify methodological errors, rhetorical, conventional and uncritical assumptions, vagueness and superficiality.

CE1. Students should be able to critically engage with the central concepts and methods of philosophical logic (logical methods applied to philosophical problems, in particular those in the philosophy of time).

CE2. Students should be able to identify the core arguments and theories of current philosophy of time and temporal logic as these apply to the formal semantics of propositions.

CE4. Students should be able to assess the writings of leading contemporary philosophers on the topics of temporal logic and the nature of time.

CE5. Students should acquire the general skill to identify and critically engage with the current state of a particular philosophical debate, and form a reasoned view about it.

CE7. Students must acquire command of the terminology that is used in current and classical discussions of temporal logic and the philosophy of time.​



Arthur N. Prior, Past, Present and Future, 1967, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Arthur N. Prior, Papers on Time and Tense, new edition, 2003, Oxford: Oxford University Press