What is the nature of the distinction between events and processes?

Heaton, Jasper Noel Simon (2014) What is the nature of the distinction between events and processes? MPhil thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

A distinction of ontological category is often drawn between events and process, analogous to the distinction between particular spatial things and the matter from which they’re made. The traditional arguments for the distinction arise from observations of the aspectual differences of verbs – e.g. ‘pushed’ and ‘pushing’ – made by Zeno Vendler and Anthony Kenny and then developed by Alexander Mourelatos. Mourelatos identifies a difference of apparent quantification in the nominalisations of sentences with aspectual differences of their verbs: ‘Jones pushed the cart to the top of the hill’ transforms to ‘there was a pushing of the cart to the top of the hill by Jones’ – a count-quantified sentence, whereas ‘Jones pushed the cart for hours’ transforms to ‘there was pushing of the cart for hours by Jones’ – a mass-quantified sentence. Mourelatos then takes these apparent differences to be metaphysically perspicuous, revealing a categorical distinction between events and process, where process is understood as the stuff of time. Rowland Stout offers a different articulation of the distinction, arguing that it is a distinction between events and processes, i.e. a distinction between two categories of particular. I argue that both proposals have their merit; Mourelatos is right to treat process as the stuff of time, and Stout is right to recognise individual processes. Drawing on Thomas Crowther’s work, who suggests that what is salient to the distinction are matters of form and differences in restrictiveness of boundaries, I go on to present an understanding of individual processes as dynamic, growing entities, and defend the position that recognises events and processes as belonging to distinct metaphysical categories. Kathleen Gill has levelled objections to the recognition of such a distinction, claiming that there are few grounds for regarding the distinction as genuinely metaphysical, and suggested instead that it is better understood as artifactual. I explore the notion of an artefact in relation to events and processes, and show that while the distinction does appear to be artifactual in the restricted realm of agent activity and action, it is not plausible to regard it as artifactual outside of this realm. I articulate the distinction between events and processes as one of a difference between completing and finishing, where completing is understood as coming to exemplify a sortal.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Social Sciences, History & Philosophy > Philosophy
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2014 14:34
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2016 12:47
URI: http://bbktheses.da.ulcc.ac.uk/id/eprint/87

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