Coronavirus update

Important information:
All on-campus visits and events are cancelled or postponed until further notice. Virtual events will be running as normal unless otherwise stated.  For the latest updates visit our coronavirus information page. Please note that some of our on campus events may be replaced by virtual events - please check with the event organiser listed against each event.

A Metaphysical Resolution of the Imperfective Paradox

ERI 149
Wednesday 7 March 2018 (13:00-14:00)

Philosophy Work in Progress Seminar Series 2017/18

  • Speaker: Dr Michael Rush
  • Title: A Metaphysical Resolution of the Imperfective Paradox

The Philosophy department's work in progress seminar is an opportunity for the members of staff at Birmingham to present the material they are working on to each other and to the department's postgraduate students.
The seminar meets roughly on fortnightly Wednesdays from 13:00 to 14.00 in the ERI. All welcome!


A common intuition suggests that (1) Alex was running a business entails (2) Alex ran a business, but that (3) Kiran was building a house does not entail (4) Kiran built a house. (1) and (3) seem at least superficially to have the same grammatical structure as each other, as do (2) and (4). This is the origin of the so-called ‘imperfective paradox’, the resolution of which seems to require an explanation of this difference in entailment, given the apparent similarity in form. ‘Imperfective’ because the verbs in (1) and (3) have imperfective aspect: they identify an action or a situation as ongoing at some temporal interval. In this paper I explain the paradox (§1), briefly outline one of the (ingenious) proposals for a grammatical resolution (§2), and suggest an alternative approach (§3): if we give up a central part of the starting intuition the paradox goes away, so I motivate the surrendering of this intuition if you have it and sketch a metaphysical view that can do our revised intuition justice.

Culture and collections

Schools, institutes and departments

Services and facilities