On behalf of a mutable future

Synthese 193 (7):2077-2095 (2016)
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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 to arguments for fatalism, can account for the utility of total knowledge of the future, and can help in providing an account of the semantics of the English progressive. On the view developed, the future is mutable in the following sense: perhaps, once, it was true that you would never come to read a paper defending the mutability of the future. And then the future changed. And now you will.

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Patrick Todd
University of Edinburgh


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