The Open Future

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  1. Assessment Sensitivity About Future Contingents, Vindication and Self-Refutation.Corine Besson & Anandi Hattiangadi - manuscript
    John MacFarlane has recently argued that his brand of truth relativism – Assessment Sensitivity – provides the best solution to the puzzle of future contingents: statements about the future that are metaphysically neither necessary nor impossible. In this paper, we show that even if we grant all of the metaphysical, semantic and pragmatic assumptions in terms of which MacFarlane sets and solves the puzzle, Assessment Sensitivity is ultimately self-refuting.
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  2. The Modal Future Hypothesis Debugged.Fabrizio Cariani - manuscript
    This note identifies and corrects some problems in developments of the thesis that predictive expressions, such as English "will", are modals. I contribute a new argument supporting Cariani and Santorio's recent claim that predictive expressions are non-quantificational modals. At the same time, I improve on their selectional semantics by fixing an important bug. Finally, I show that there are benefits to be reaped by integrating the selection semantics framework with standard ideas about the future orientation of modals.
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  3. Does Success Entail Ability?David Boylan - forthcoming - Noûs.
    This paper is about the principle that success entails ability, which I call Success. I argue the status of Success is highly puzzling: when we focus on past instances of actually successful action, Success is very compelling; but it is in tension with the idea that true ability claims require an action be in the agent's control. I make the above tension precise by considering the logic of ability. I argue Success is appealing because it is classically equivalent to two (...)
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  4. Human Foreknowledge.Fabrizio Cariani - forthcoming - Philosophical Perspectives.
    I explore the motivation and logical consequences of the idea that we have some (limited) ability to know contingent facts about the future, even in presence of the assumption that the future is objectively unsettled or indeterminate. I start by formally characterizing skepticism about the future. This analysis nudges the anti-skeptic towards the idea that if some propositions about the future are objectively indeterminate, then it may be indeterminate whether a suitably positioned agent knows them.
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  5. The Phenomenology and Metaphysics of the Open Future.Derek Lam - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-27.
    Intuitively, the future is open and the past fixed: there is something we can do about the future but not the past. Some metaphysicians believe that a proper metaphysics of time must vindicate this intuition. Whereas philosophers have focused on the future and the past, the status of the present remains relatively unexplored. Drawing on resources from action theory, I argue that there is something we can do about the present just like there is something we can do about the (...)
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  6. The Open Future: Why Future Contingents Are All False.Patrick Todd - forthcoming - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    In The Open Future: Why Future Contingents are all False, Patrick Todd launches a sustained defense of a radical interpretation of the doctrine of the open future, one according to which all claims about undetermined aspects of the future are simply false. Todd argues that this theory is metaphysically more parsimonious than its rivals, and that objections to its logical and practical coherence are much overblown. Todd shows how proponents of this view can maintain classical logic, and argues that the (...)
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  7. Future Contingents and the Logic of Temporal Omniscience.Patrick Todd & Brian Rabern - 2021 - Noûs 55 (1):102-127.
    At least since Aristotle’s famous 'sea-battle' passages in On Interpretation 9, some substantial minority of philosophers has been attracted to the doctrine of the open future--the doctrine that future contingent statements are not true. But, prima facie, such views seem inconsistent with the following intuition: if something has happened, then (looking back) it was the case that it would happen. How can it be that, looking forwards, it isn’t true that there will be a sea battle, while also being true (...)
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  8. Back to the (Branching) Future.Giacomo Andreoletti - 2020 - Acta Analytica 35 (2):181-194.
    The future is different from the past. What is past is fixed and set in stone. The future, on the other hand, is open insofar as it holds numerous possibilities. Branching-tree models of time account for this asymmetry by positing an ontological difference between the past and the future. Given a time t, a unique unified past lies behind t, whereas multiple alternative existing futures lie ahead of t. My goal in this paper is to show that there is an (...)
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  9. Assertion and the Future.Corine Besson & Anandi Hattiangadi - 2020 - In Sanford Goldberg (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Assertion. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 481-504.
    It is disputed what norm, if any, governs assertion. We address this question by looking at assertions of future contingents: statements about the future that are neither metaphysically necessary nor metaphysically impossible. Many philosophers think that future contingents are not truth apt, which together with a Truth Norm or a Knowledge Norm of assertion implies that assertions of these future contingents are systematically infelicitous. In this article, we argue that our practice of asserting future contingents is incompatible with the view (...)
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  10. Future Ontology: Indeterminate Existence or Non-existence?Michael Tze-Sung Longenecker - 2020 - Philosophia 48 (4):1493-1500.
    The Growing Block Theory of time says that the metaphysical openness of the future should be understood in terms of there not being any future objects or events. But in a series of works, Ross Cameron, Elizabeth Barnes, and Robbie Williams have developed a competing view that understands metaphysical openness in terms of it being indeterminate whether there exist future objects or events. I argue that the three reasons they give for preferring their account are not compelling. And since the (...)
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  11. The Problem of Future Contingents: Scoping Out a Solution.Patrick Todd - 2020 - Synthese 197 (11):5051-5072.
    Various philosophers have long since been attracted to the doctrine that future contingent propositions systematically fail to be true—what is sometimes called the doctrine of the open future. However, open futurists have always struggled to articulate how their view interacts with standard principles of classical logic—most notably, with the Law of Excluded Middle. For consider the following two claims: Trump will be impeached tomorrow; Trump will not be impeached tomorrow. According to the kind of open futurist at issue, both of (...)
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  12. The Invisible Thin Red Line.Giuliano Torrengo & Samuele Iaquinto - 2020 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 101:354-382.
    The aim of this paper is to argue that the adoption of an unrestricted principle of bivalence is compatible with a metaphysics that (i) denies that the future is real, (ii) adopts nomological indeterminism, and (iii) exploits a branching structure to provide a semantics for future contingent claims. To this end, we elaborate what we call Flow Fragmentalism, a view inspired by Kit Fine (2005)’s non-standard tense realism, according to which reality is divided up into maximally coherent collections of tensed (...)
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  13. Fatalism and Future Contingents.Giacomo Andreoletti - 2019 - Analytic Philosophy 60 (3):1-14.
    In this paper I address issues related to the problem of future contingents and the metaphysical doctrine of fatalism. Two classical responses to the problem of future contingents are the third truth value view and the all-false view. According to the former, future contingents take a third truth value which goes beyond truth and falsity. According to the latter, they are all false. I here illustrate and discuss two ways to respectively argue for those two views. Both ways are similar (...)
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  14. Aquinas, Geach, and Existence.Damiano Costa - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 11 (3):175-195.
    Aquinas’ theory of being has received a growing amount of attention from contemporary scholars, both from a historic and a philosophical point of view. An important source of this attention is Geach’s seminal Form and Existence. In it, Geach argues that Aquinas subscribes to a tensed notion of existence and a theory of time according to which past and future entities do not exist in act. Subsequent commentators, such as Kenny in his Aquinas on Being, have agreed with Geach on (...)
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  15. Will Done Better: Selection Semantics, Future Credence, and Indeterminacy.Fabrizio Cariani & Paolo Santorio - 2018 - Mind 127 (505):129-165.
    Statements about the future are central in everyday conversation and reasoning. How should we understand their meaning? The received view among philosophers treats will as a tense: in ‘Cynthia will pass her exam’, will shifts the reference time forward. Linguists, however, have produced substantial evidence for the view that will is a modal, on a par with must and would. The different accounts are designed to satisfy different theoretical constraints, apparently pulling in opposite directions. We show that these constraints are (...)
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  16. Imprints in Time: Towards a Moderately Robust Past.Michael Longenecker - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (10):2429-2446.
    Presentism says that only present objects exist. But the view has trouble grounding past-tensed truths like “dinosaurs existed”. Standard Eternalism grounds those truths by positing the existence of past objects—like dinosaurs. But Standard Eternalism conflicts with the intuition that there is genuine change—the intuition that there once were dinosaurs and no longer are any. I offer a novel theory of time—‘The Imprint’—that does a better job preserving both the grounding and genuine change intuitions. The Imprint says that the past and (...)
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  17. A Note on Aristotle and Beliefs About the Future.Bo R. Meinertsen - 2017 - In He Xirong, Peter Jonkers & Shi Yongze (eds.), Philosophy and the Life-World: Chinese Philosophical Studies, XXXIII. Washington, DC, USA: The Council for Research in Values and Philosophy. pp. 207-213.
    This note falls into two main parts. In the first part, I shall consider the question of whether or not Aristotle believed that there can be true statements about what will happen in the future. I will first clarify this question, which will involve consideration of some logical and metaphysical notions in Aristotle. I will then argue that the answer to the question is ‘No’ (with a qualification). In the second part, I shall argue that his view is correct. I (...)
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  18. Against the Russellian Open Future.Anders J. Schoubye & Brian Rabern - 2017 - Mind 126 (504): 1217–1237.
    Todd (2016) proposes an analysis of future-directed sentences, in particular sentences of the form 'will(φ)', that is based on the classic Russellian analysis of definite descriptions. Todd's analysis is supposed to vindicate the claim that the future is metaphysically open while retaining a simple Ockhamist semantics of future contingents and the principles of classical logic, i.e. bivalence and the law of excluded middle. Consequently, an open futurist can straightforwardly retain classical logic without appeal to supervaluations, determinacy operators, or any further (...)
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  19. Causal and Moral Indeterminacy.Sara Bernstein - 2016 - Ratio 29 (4):434-447.
    This paper argues that several sorts of metaphysical and semantic indeterminacy afflict the causal relation. If, as it is plausible to hold, there is a relationship between causation and moral responsibility, then indeterminacy in the causal relation results in indeterminacy of moral responsibility more generally.
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  20. On Behalf of a Mutable Future.Patrick Todd - 2016 - Synthese 193 (7):2077-2095.
    Everyone agrees that we can’t change the past. But what about the future? Though the thought that we can change the future is familiar from popular discourse, it enjoys virtually no support from philosophers, contemporary or otherwise. In this paper, I argue that the thesis that the future is mutable has far more going for it than anyone has yet realized. The view, I hope to show, gains support from the nature of prevention, can provide a new way of responding (...)
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  21. Future Contingents Are All False! On Behalf of a Russellian Open Future.Patrick Todd - 2016 - Mind 125 (499):775-798.
    There is a familiar debate between Russell and Strawson concerning bivalence and ‘the present King of France’. According to the Strawsonian view, ‘The present King of France is bald’ is neither true nor false, whereas, on the Russellian view, that proposition is simply false. In this paper, I develop what I take to be a crucial connection between this debate and a different domain where bivalence has been at stake: future contingents. On the familiar ‘Aristotelian’ view, future contingent propositions are (...)
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  22. The Puzzle of the Changing Past.Luca Barlassina & Fabio Del Prete - 2015 - Analysis 75 (1):59-67.
    If you utter sentence ‘Obama was born in 1961’ now, you say something true about the past. Since the past will always be such that the year 1961 has the property of being a time in which Obama was born, it seems impossible that could ever be false in a future context of utterance. We shall consider the case of a sentence about the past exactly like , but which was true when uttered a few years ago and is no (...)
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  23. Ockhamism and Quantified Modal Logic.Andrea Iacona - 2015 - Logique Et Analyse 58:353-370.
    This paper outlines a formal account of tensed sentences that is consistent with Ockhamism, a view according to which future contingents are either true or false. The account outlined substantively differs from the attempts that have been made so far to provide a formal apparatus for such a view in terms of some expressly modified version of branching time semantics. The system on which it is based is the simplest quantified modal logic.
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  24. Introduction.Patrick Todd & John Martin Fischer - 2015 - In John Martin Fischer & Patrick Todd (eds.), Freedom, Fatalism, and Foreknowledge. Oxford University Press. pp. 01-38.
    This Introduction has three sections, on "logical fatalism," "theological fatalism," and the problem of future contingents, respectively. In the first two sections, we focus on the crucial idea of "dependence" and the role it plays it fatalistic arguments. Arguably, the primary response to the problems of logical and theological fatalism invokes the claim that the relevant past truths or divine beliefs depend on what we do, and therefore needn't be held fixed when evaluating what we can do. We call the (...)
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  25. Towards a New Theory of Historical Counterfactuals.Jacek Wawer & Leszek Wroński - 2015 - In Pavel Arazim & Michal Dancak (eds.), Logica Yearbook 2014. College Publications. pp. 293-310.
    We investigate the semantics of historical counterfactuals in indeterministic contexts. We claim that "plain" and "necessitated" counterfactuals differ in meaning. To substantiate this claim, we propose a new semantic treatment of historical counterfactuals in the Branching Time framework. We supplement our semantics with supervaluationist postsemantics, thanks to which we can explain away the intuitions which seem to talk in favor of the identification of "would" with "would necessarily".
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  26. Ockhamism Without Thin Red Lines.Andrea Iacona - 2014 - Synthese 191 (12):2633-2652.
    This paper investigates the logic of Ockhamism, a view according to which future contingents are either true or false. Several attempts have been made to give rigorous shape to this view by defining a suitable formal semantics, but arguably none of them is fully satisfactory. The paper draws attention to some problems that beset such attempts, and suggests that these problems are different symptoms of the same initial confusion, in that they stem from the unjustified assumption that the actual course (...)
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  27. No-Futurism and Metaphysical Contingentism.Baptiste Le Bihan - 2014 - Axiomathes 24 (4):483-497.
    According to no-futurism, past and present entities are real, but future ones are not. This view faces a skeptical challenge (Bourne 2002, 2006, Braddon-Mitchell, 2004): if no-futurism is true, how do you know you are present? I shall propose a new skeptical argument based on the physical possibility of Gödelian worlds (1949). This argument shows that a no-futurist has to endorse a metaphysical contingentist reading of no-futurism, the view that no-futurism is contingently true. But then, the no-futurist has to face (...)
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  28. No (New) Troubles with Ockhamism.Garrett Pendergraft & D. Justin Coates - 2014 - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion 5:185-208.
    The Ockhamist claims that our ability to do otherwise is not endangered by God’s foreknowledge because facts about God’s past beliefs regarding future contingents are soft facts about the past—i.e., temporally relational facts that depend in some sense on what happens in the future. But if our freedom, given God’s foreknowledge, requires altering some fact about the past that is clearly a hard fact, then Ockhamism fails even if facts about God’s past beliefs are soft. Recent opponents of Ockhamism, including (...)
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  29. Reflection, Conditionalization and Indeterminacy About the Future.Michael J. Shaffer - 2014 - The Reasoner 8:65-66.
    This paper shows that any view of future contingent claims that treats such claims as having indeterminate truth values or as simply being false implies probabilistic irrationality. This is because such views of the future imply violations of reflection, special reflection and conditionalization.
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  30. The Truth About the Future.Jacek Wawer - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S3):365-401.
    There is a long-standing disagreement among Branching-Time theorists. Even though they all believe that the branching representation accurately grasps the idea that the future, contrary to the past, is open, they argue whether this representation is compatible with the claim that one among many possible futures is distinguished—the single future that will come to be. This disagreement is paralleled in an argument about the bivalence of future contingents. The single, privileged future is often called the Thin Red Line. I reconstruct (...)
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  31. A New Theory of Free Will.Marcus Arvan - 2013 - Philosophical Forum 44 (1):1-48.
    This paper shows that several live philosophical and scientific hypotheses – including the holographic principle and multiverse theory in quantum physics, and eternalism and mind-body dualism in philosophy – jointly imply an audacious new theory of free will. This new theory, "Libertarian Compatibilism", holds that the physical world is an eternally existing array of two-dimensional information – a vast number of possible pasts, presents, and futures – and the mind a nonphysical entity or set of properties that "read" that physical (...)
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  32. Branching and (in)Determinism.Jiri Benovsky - 2013 - Philosophical Papers 42 (2):151-173.
    At a first glance, and even at a second one, it seems that if time is linear the threat of determinism is more severe than if time is branching, since in the latter case the future is open in a way it is not in the former one where, so to speak, there exists only one branch – one future. In this paper, I want to give a 'third glance' at this claim. I acknowledge that such a claim is intuitive (...)
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  33. The Metaphysics of the Thin Red Line.Andrea Borghini & Giuliano Torrengo - 2013 - In F. Correia & A. Iacona (eds.), Around the Tree. Semantical and Metaphysical Issues Concerning Branching and the Open Future. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 105-125.
    There seems to be a minimal core that every theory wishing to accommodate the intuition that the future is open must contain: a denial of physical determinism (i.e. the thesis that what future states the universe will be in is implied by what states it has been in), and a denial of strong fatalism (i.e. the thesis that, at every time, what will subsequently be the case is metaphysically necessary).1 Those two requirements are often associated with the idea of an (...)
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  34. Scientific Practice and Necessary Connections.Andreas Hüttemann - 2013 - Theoria 79 (1):29-39.
    In this paper I will introduce a problem for at least those Humeans who believe that the future is open.More particularly, I will argue that the following aspect of scientific practice cannot be explained by openfuture- Humeanism: There is a distinction between states that we cannot bring about (which are represented in scientific models as nomologically impossible) and states that we merely happen not to bring about. Open-future-Humeanism has no convincing account of this distinction. Therefore it fails to explain why (...)
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  35. Indeterminate Actuality and the Open Future.Roberto Loss - 2013 - Analysis 73 (2):248-260.
    The aim of this article is to propose a novel supervaluationist theory of ‘actually’ in the open future. First, I will argue that any adequate theory of actuality in a branching setting must comply with three main desiderata. Second, I will prove that none of the actuality operators that have been proposed in the literature is up to the task. Finally, I will propose a novel theory of actuality in the open future combining one of the existing definitions of the (...)
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  36. The Truth About the Past and the Future.Ned Markosian - 2013 - In Fabrice Correia & Andrea Iacona (eds.), Around the Tree: Semantic and Metaphysical Issues Concerning Branching Time and the Open Future. Springer. pp. 127-141.
    This paper is about The Truthmaker Problem for Presentism. I spell out a solution to the problem that involves appealing to indeterministic laws of nature and branching semantics for past- and future-tensed sentences. Then I discuss a potential glitch for this solution, and propose a way to get around that glitch. Finally, I consider some likely objections to the view offered here, as well as replies to those objections.
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  37. The Real Truth About the Unreal Future.Rachael Briggs & Graeme A. Forbes - 2012 - In Karen Bennett & Dean Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, volume 7.
    Growing-Block theorists hold that past and present things are real, while future things do not yet exist. This generates a puzzle: how can Growing-Block theorists explain the fact that some sentences about the future appear to be true? Briggs and Forbes develop a modal ersatzist framework, on which the concrete actual world is associated with a branching-time structure of ersatz possible worlds. They then show how this branching structure might be used to determine the truth values of future contingents. They (...)
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  38. Back to the Present: Defending Presentist Time Travel.Paul Richard Daniels - 2012 - Disputatio 4 (33):469 - 484.
    Here I defend the compatibility of presentism and time travel against a few objections. Keller and Nelson argue that, if presentism is at all plausible, presentism and time travel are as compatible as eternalism and time travel. But Miller and Sider are not convinced. I reply that for their concerns to have merit, Miller and Sider must assume presentists are committed to positions they need not be; I explain why presentists are not so committed and, in the process, defend Keller (...)
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  39. On A- and B-Theoretic Elements of Branching Spacetimes.Matt Farr - 2012 - Synthese 188 (1):85-116.
    This paper assesses branching spacetime theories in light of metaphysical considerations concerning time. I present the A, B, and C series in terms of the temporal structure they impose on sets of events, and raise problems for two elements of extant branching spacetime theories—McCall’s ‘branch attrition’, and the ‘no backward branching’ feature of Belnap’s ‘branching space-time’—in terms of their respective A- and B-theoretic nature. I argue that McCall’s presentation of branch attrition can only be coherently formulated on a model with (...)
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  40. Ontologia del temps: dos debats en la tradició analítica.Joan Ferrarons-Llagostera - 2012 - Alia: Revista de Estudios Transversales 1:67-80.
    En aquest article es presenten dues teories sobre la naturalesa del temps i s’analitzen objeccions que s’hi han presentat els darrers anys en el marc de la filosofia analítica. La primera sosté que el passat i el futur no són reals, i presenta el problema de com es poden expressar proposicions veritables sobre temps no presents. D’acord amb la segona teoria, per contra, tots els temps —present, passat i futur— són igual de reals, però això sembla implicar que el futur (...)
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  41. Branching Time, Actuality and the Puzzle of Retrospective Determinacy.Roberto Loss - 2012 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 1 (1):16-25.
    The supervaluationist approach to branching time (‘SBT-theory’) appears to be threatened by the puzzle of retrospective determinacy: if yesterday I uttered the sentence ‘It will be sunny tomorrow’ and only in some worlds overlapping at the context of utterance it is sunny the next day, my utterance is to be assessed as neither true nor false even if today is indeed a sunny day. John MacFarlane (“Truth in the Garden of Forking Paths” 81) has recently criticized a promising solution to (...)
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  42. Geachianism.Patrick Todd - 2011 - Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion 3:222-251.
    The plane was going to crash, but it didn't. Johnny was going to bleed to death, but he didn't. Geach sees here a changing future. In this paper, I develop Geach's primary argument for the (almost universally rejected) thesis that the future is mutable (an argument from the nature of prevention), respond to the most serious objections such a view faces, and consider how Geach's view bears on traditional debates concerning divine foreknowledge and human freedom. As I hope to show, (...)
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  43. The Open Future.Stephan Torre - 2011 - Philosophy Compass 6 (5):360-373.
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  44. It Doesn't Matter What We Do: From Metaphysics to Ethics in Lost's Time Travel.Jeremy Pierce - 2010 - In Sharon Kaye (ed.), Ultimate Lost and Philosophy: Think Together, Die Alone. Wiley/Blackwell.
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  45. Against Rea on Presentism and Fatalism.Andrew Moon - 2008 - Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 15:159-166.
    T In [Rea 2006], Michael Rea presents an argument that presentism is incompatible with a libertarian view of human freedom and the unrestricted principle of bivalence. I aim to show that Rea’s argument fails. The outline of my paper is as follows. In Part I, I briefly explain the above three views and I present Rea’sargument. In Part II, I argue that one of the premises of the argument is unjustified.
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  46. Future Contingents and Aristotle’s Fantasy.Andrea Iacona - 2007 - Critica 39 (117):45-60.
    This paper deals with the problem of future contingents, and focuses on two classical logical principles, excluded middle and bivalence. One may think that different attitudes are to be adopted towards these two principles in order to solve the problem. According to what seems to be a widely held hypothesis, excluded middle must be accepted while bivalence must be rejected. The paper goes against that line of thought. In the first place, it shows how the rejection of bivalence leads to (...)
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  47. Time Travel and the Open Future.Kristie Miller - 2005 - Disputatio 1 (19):223 - 232.
    In this paper, I argue that the thesis that time travel is logically possible, is inconsistent with the necessary truth of any of the usual ‘open futureobjective present’ models of the universe. It has been relatively uncontroversial until recently to hold that presentism is inconsistent with the possibility of time travel. I argue that recent arguments to the contrary do not show that presentism is consistent with time travel. Moreover, the necessary truth of other open future-objective present models which we (...)
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  48. Tensed Ontology Based on Simple Partial Logic.Daisuke Kachi - 2002 - Proceedings of Ninth International Symposium on Temporal Representation and Reasoning: TIME-02:141-145.
    Simple partial logic (=SPL) is, broadly speaking, an extensional logic which allows for the truth-value gap. First I give a system of propositional SPL by partializing classical logic, as well as extending it with several non-classical truth-functional operators. Second I show a way based on SPL to construct a system of tensed ontology, by representing tensed statements as two kinds of necessary statements in a linear model that consists of the present and future worlds. Finally I compare that way with (...)
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  49. The Open Past.Ned Markosian - 1995 - Philosophical Studies 79 (1):95 - 105.
    This paper is about the open future response to fatalistic arguments. I first present a typical fatalistic argument and then spell out the open future response as a response to that argument. Then I raise the question of how the open future response can be independently justified. I consider some possible ways in which the response might be defended, and I try to show that none of these is a plausible, non-question-begging defense. Next I formulate what I take to be (...)
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  50. Peter Aureol on Divine Knowledge and Future Contingents.Chris Schabel - 1995 - Cahiers de l'Institut du Moyen-Âge Grec Et Latin 65:63-212.
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