Actualism and Presentism

There is an interesting parallel between our difficulties in formulating presentism and those in formulating actualism, as Bill explains here.  If we understand actualism to be the claim that
A.  Only the actual exists,
then Bill says
One is very strongly tempted to say that to exist is to be actual. If 'exists' in (A) means 'is actual,' however, then (A) is a tautology. But if 'exists' in (A) does not mean 'is actual,' what does it mean?
I agree that there is such a temptation. But I don't agree that the problem lies in our understanding of 'exists'.  I take that as a rock-solid given.  Rather, we must investigate what we mean by 'the actual',  'the possible', 'the past', and so on.

There is a temptation to take the possible as the extension of the concept possible; likewise, the past as the extension of the concept past.  We say Caesar is a past Roman,  Balls is a possible prime minister, and so on, as if past and possible functioned as concept words.  But I think this is a mistake.  For the extension of possible prime minister  is  a superset of the extension of prime minister whereas the extension of female prime minister  is a subset.   Likewise, the extension of past Roman exceeds the extension of Roman, though I might be accused of question begging in claiming this.  However, I note that the extension of past Roman just goes on increasing with time, whereas that of female Roman may increase and decrease, as it did following the fall of Rome.  So there is a case for regarding possible etc as other than concept terms.  If this is right, how are we to understand them?

What follows is speculative.  I claim that past and possible and their ilk act as 'adverbs of assertion'.  They qualify whole sentences, as in
Pastly, Caesar crosses the Rubicon,
Possibly, Ed Balls is prime minister,
Fictionally, Holmes is a detective.
Though we ordinarily distribute the adverbial operators into the sentences, as in
Caesar crossed the Rubicon,
Ed Balls is a possible prime minister,
Holmes is a fictional detective,
their logical structure is  that of an operator applied to a sentence.  The presence of the operator modifies what we take as the truth value of the sentence.  Pastly asserts that there was a time when the sentence was true though it may not be true now.  Possibly warns us to take the sentence with a pinch of salt.  It's truth value is indeterminate. Everything told us by an untrustworthy source we might preface with possiblyFictionally reminds us that the sentence comes from or paraphrases an element of a story.  It has no truth value. It is not an attempt to say anything about the world.

The question now is what we are to make of proper names introduced by sentences under such operators.
Pastly, there is a Roman called Caesar,
Possibly, there is an MP called Balls,
Fictionally, there is a detective called Holmes.
The first primes us that the name 'Caesar' in forthcoming sentences will refer to this no longer extant Roman.  The second that 'Balls' will refer to a putative MP, with the caveat that there may be no such person.  What follows concerning said 'Balls' may be utter flim-flam, but it may turn out true.  The last primes us not to worry about the truth of sentences asserting properties or actions of 'Holmes'.   Note the element of semantic ascent:  this is information about sentences about Caesar, not information about Caesar.   And since a sentence about Caesar contains the name 'Caesar' it seems reasonable to suppose that this information is associated with the name itself.  So we appear to have names introduced under the pastly operator, the possibly operator, the fictionally operator, and so on.  I would hazard a guess that a well-educated Westerner is familiar with as many, if not more, pastly and fictionally names as presently names.  Possibly names tend to be much fewer in number since we require them to be verified and become actually names, else we tend to forget them.  One exception springs to mind: Jack the Ripper.   

My guess is that it is because the actually and presently names are subsets of all the names in our possession, and because we are tempted to think that actual and present are concept terms that pick out subsets of the available existents that we are inclined to think that presentism and actualism must be substantive metaphysical claims.  But they are not.  They really are the trivial claim that
the present = the actual = the existent
the past = the merely possible = the fictional =  ∅.

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