Noûs 55 (1):102-127 (2021)

Authors
Brian Rabern
University of Edinburgh
Patrick Todd
University of Edinburgh
Abstract
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 that, looking backwards, it was the case that there would be a sea battle? This tension forms, in large part, what might be called the problem of future contingents. A dominant trend in temporal logic and semantic theorizing about future contingents seeks to validate both intuitions. Theorists in this tradition--including some interpretations of Aristotle, but paradigmatically, Thomason (1970), as well as more recent developments in Belnap, et. al (2001) and MacFarlane (2003, 2014)--have argued that the apparent tension between the intuitions is in fact merely apparent. In short, such theorists seek to maintain both of the following two theses: (i) the open future: Future contingents are not true, and (ii) retro-closure: From the fact that something is true, it follows that it was the case that it would be true. It is well-known that reflection on the problem of future contingents has in many ways been inspired by importantly parallel issues regarding divine foreknowledge and indeterminism. In this paper, we take up this perspective, and ask what accepting both the open future and retro-closure predicts about omniscience. When we theorize about a perfect knower, we are theorizing about what an ideal agent ought to believe. Our contention is that there isn’t an acceptable view of ideally rational belief given the assumptions of the open future and retro-closure, and thus this casts doubt on the conjunction of those assumptions.
Keywords the open future  future contingents  relativism  supervaluationism  omniscience  indeterminacy  God
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2021
DOI 10.1111/nous.12294
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

An Essay on Free Will.Peter Van Inwagen - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
Past, Present and Future.Arthur N. Prior - 1967 - Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
.R. G. Swinburne - 1989 - Cambridge University Press.
The Concept of Truth in Formalized Languages.Alfred Tarski - 1936 - In A. Tarski (ed.), Logic, Semantics, Metamathematics. Oxford University Press. pp. 152--278.

View all 81 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Knowledge of Future Contingents.Andrea Iacona - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 179 (2):447-467.
Credible Futures.Andrea Iacona & Samuele Iaquinto - 2021 - Synthese (3-4):10953-10968.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Knowing Future Contingents.Ezio Di Nucci - 2012 - Logos and Episteme 3 (1):43-50.
Sea Battle Semantics.Berit Brogaard - 2008 - Philosophical Quarterly 58 (231):326–335.
In Defence of Ockhamism.Sven Rosenkranz - 2012 - Philosophia 40 (3):617-631.
A Future for the Thin Red Line.Alex Malpass & Jacek Wawer - 2012 - Synthese 188 (1):117-142.
Open Future and Modal Anti-Realism.Daniel Kodaj - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 168 (2):1-22.
Future Contingents, Indeterminacy and Context.Paula Sweeney - 2015 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 96 (2):408-422.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2017-04-11

Total views
886 ( #7,412 of 2,499,195 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
81 ( #9,281 of 2,499,195 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes