“An Analogy Between Modality and Time
What might a proponent of MOP (Meinongian Ontological Pluralism) say about time?
The view I have in mind can be understood as the temporal analog of the following modal metaphysic. Take Lewis’s modal realism, but reject actuality as indexical; instead, take actuality and mere possibility as ways of being.
There is the actual world, which enjoys actual-existence; the merely possible worlds, which enjoy possible-existence; and the impossible worlds, which don’t exist at all.
Both actual and merely possible entities exist in some way or other and therein exemplify the properties they have.
Impossible entities are unreal, and therein are said to encode the properties they have. This latter, distinctively Meinongian move, helps to ground truths about impossible things, while preserving the intuition that impossible things do not exist in any way.
The analogy to time is straightforward. There are the present entities, which enjoy present-existence; the past entities, which enjoy past-existence; and future entities, which dont exist at all. Both present and past entities exist in some way or other, and therein exemplify the properties they have. Future entities are unreal, and therein encode the properties they have. This latter move helps ground truths about the future without jeopardizing the intuition that the future is entirely nonexistent.
On this view, the future is unreal, while the past and the present make up a four-dimensional manifold of concrete existents. Further, this manifold grows as time passes—hence, Meinongian Growing Block Theory, or MGB.
The above analogy suggests a deep metaphysical connection between the future and the impossible—one that some might find surprising.
I think this upshot is actually a welcome one. Not only do we have strong intuitions about the unreality of both the future and the impossible, but there are also more substantive reasons for admitting the analogy. Paradigmatic impossible objects are inconsistent ones—objects that have some property, F, and some property, G, where F and G are incompatible (e.g. roundness and squareness).
In a way, these impossible objects have too many properties to be real. Additionally, our intuitions about the unreality of the future appear to be linked to our intuition that the future is open—that facts about the future have yet to be settled. One way of making sense of an open future is to suggest that there is some kind of indeterminacy regarding future property instantiations.
That is, the future is partly constituted by incomplete objects, where for some property, F, the future object in question has neither F nor not-F.
On such a view, these future objects have too few properties to be real. Thus, there is good reason for thinking that there is an intimate, metaphysical link between the future and the impossible because, plausibly, both sorts of entities deviate from the level of determinacy required for reality. “
https://surface.syr.edu/etd/1238/ On the Plurality of Existences, Isaiah Lin, 2020