Evaluating future-tensed sentences in changing contexts

According to the actualist view, what is essential in the truth conditions of a future-tensed sentence ‘it will be the case that ’ is the reference to the unique course of events that will become actual (Lewis 1986). On the other hand, the modal view has it that the truth conditions of such sentences require the truth of  being already “settled” at the time of utterance, where “being settled” is defined by universal quantification over a domain of courses of events, the futures compatible with what has happened up to the time of utterance (Prior 1967, Thomason 1970). On the proposal that we discuss in this paper, there is no split between an actualist and a modal interpretation of the future tense, but both views on the truth conditions of future-tensed sentences are accommodated within a single broader view of how sentences are evaluated in context. We propose a unified semantic treatment of the future tense which is based on a contextual notion of settledness. A central feature of our approach is a dynamic view of contexts of utterance, according to which the world of the utterance is not fixed once and for all, as different worlds, by the passing of time, can play this role in turn. Finally, one major goal of the paper is to show how the unified analysis we propose accounts for epistemic readings of future-tensed sentences.
Keywords future tense  modality  context  branching time
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