Tense and emotion

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Arthur Prior’s (1959) ‘Thank Goodness’ argument raised the question of why we should feel relief when a bad event is over, but not when it is in the future. This was initially regarded as a challenge for the B-theory. The standard B-theory reply is that this is an example of the more general phenomenon of the essential indexical (Perry 1979). Recent scepticism about the essential indexical and the special role of the first-person perspective (Millikan 1990; Cappelen and Dever 2013; Magidor 2015) has mainly focussed on the explanation of actions. By looking closely at Prior’s example, which concerns the appropriateness of emotions, an explanation is developed in terms of a particular way of understanding the notion of egocentricity. This makes clear what is going on in Prior’s example, without recourse to a tensed metaphysics of time, and also provides a response to sceptics about the first-person perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnderstanding human time
EditorsKasia M. Jaszczolt
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191918889
ISBN (Print)9780192896445
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2023

Publication series

NameOxford studies of time in language and thought
PublisherOxford University Press


  • B-theory
  • Thank goodness
  • Essential indexical
  • Emotion
  • Egocentricity
  • First-person perspective


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