Wondering about the future

Philosophical Studies 179 (8):2449-2473 (2021)
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Will it rain tomorrow? Will there be a sea battle tomorrow? Will my death be painful? Wondering about the future plays a central role in our cognitive lives. It is integral to our inquiries, our planning, our hopes, and our fears. The aim of this paper is to consider various accounts of future contingents and the implications that they have for wondering about the future. I argue that reflecting on the nature of wondering about the future supports an Ockhamist account of future contingents according to which many of them are true. Alternative accounts which maintain that no future contingents are true, either by claiming that they are all false or by claiming that they are neither true nor false, face difficulties concerning why it is appropriate to wonder about them. Reflecting on wondering in general, and wondering about the future in particular, suggests that in wondering how the future will go, we implicitly assume that there is a determinate fact of the matter. After presenting an attractive account of interrogative attitudes that has been recently proposed by Jane Friedman and outlining some norms governing wondering, I argue that all accounts of future contingents except Ockhamism face difficulties concerning why it is appropriate to wonder about them.

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Stephan Torre
University of Aberdeen


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