This chapter considers the question of how tensed thoughts differ from tenseless ones, and cites certain parallels between tense in thought and tense in language, with consequences for semantic theory. On some proposals for the semantics of tense and temporal indexicals (words like ‘now’ and ‘then’), the difference between tensed thoughts and tenseless thoughts either cannot be made out or, if it does come in, requires special attention. These proposals have their rationale in the behaviour of tense and temporal indexicals in conjunction with modality, as discussed most prominently in David Kaplan (1977). It is argued that the behaviour of modals should be re-evaluated in light of the distinction between tensed thoughts and tenseless thoughts. It this is true then what requires explaining is not how tensed thoughts are to be constructed, but rather the peculiar behaviour of modality, in that it may efface distinctions among thoughts.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.