Volume 65, Issue 1, September 2011
The Matter of Events
A distinction has often been drawn between processes and accomplishments, between, say, walking and walking to the shops. But it has proved difficult to explain the nature of this distinction in a satisfying way. This paper offers an explanation of the nature of this distinction that is suggested by the idea that there is an ontologically significant correspondence between temporal and spatial notions. A number of writers, such as Alexander Mourelatos (1978) and Barry Taylor (1985), have argued that the spatial notions of space-occupying stuff and space-occupying particular have temporal analogues. This paper builds on these discussions in offering the fuller development of a temporal ontology at the core of which are the notions of time-occupying stuff and of a time-occupying particular. The author then argues that when this analogy is properly understood it is possible to advance a distinctive explanation of the nature of the distinction between processes and accomplishments. The paper then goes on to develop some suggestions about how a temporal ontology involving the notions of temporal mass and of a temporal particular can help to provide explanations of a range of further puzzling temporal notions. In the final section of the paper, the author defends this temporal ontology in the face of some possible sources of criticism.