Newtonian determinism to branching space-times indeterminism in two moves

Synthese 188 (1):5-21 (2012)
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Abstract

“Branching space-times” (BST) is intended as a representation of objective, event-based indeterminism. As such, BST exhibits both a spatio-temporal aspect and an indeterministic “modal” aspect of alternative possible historical courses of events. An essential feature of BST is that it can also represent spatial or space-like relationships as part of its (more or less) relativistic theory of spatio-temporal relations; this ability is essential for the representation of local (in contrast with “global”) indeterminism. This essay indicates how BST might be seen to grow out of Newton’s deterministic and non-relativistic theory by two independent moves: (1) Taking account of indeterminism, and (2) attending to spatio-temporal relationships in a spirit derived from Einstein’s theory of special relativity. Since (1) and (2) are independent, one can see that there is room for four theories: Newtonian determinism, branching time indeterminism, relativistic determinism, and (finally) branching space-times indeterminism.

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Nuel Belnap
University of Pittsburgh

Citations of this work

Diamonds Are Forever.Cian Dorr & Jeremy Goodman - 2020 - Noûs 54 (3):632-665.
Relativity, the Open Future, and the Passage of Time.Oliver Pooley - 2013 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 113 (3pt3):321-363.
Defining Determinism.Thomas Müller & Tomasz Placek - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (1):215-252.
BH-CIFOL: Case-Intensional First Order Logic.Nuel Belnap & Thomas Müller - 2013 - Journal of Philosophical Logic (2-3):1-32.

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Past, Present and Future.Arthur N. Prior - 1967 - Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.

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