Future Contingents are all False! On Behalf of a Russellian Open Future

Mind 125 (499):775-798 (2016)
Authors
Patrick Todd
University of Edinburgh
Abstract
There is a familiar debate between Russell and Strawson concerning bivalence and ‘the present King of France’. According to the Strawsonian view, ‘The present King of France is bald’ is neither true nor false, whereas, on the Russellian view, that proposition is simply false. In this paper, I develop what I take to be a crucial connection between this debate and a different domain where bivalence has been at stake: future contingents. On the familiar ‘Aristotelian’ view, future contingent propositions are neither true nor false. However, I argue that, just as there is a Russellian alternative to the Strawsonian view concerning ‘the present King of France’, according to which the relevant class of propositions all turn out false, so there is a Russellian alternative to the Aristotelian view, according to which future contingents all turn out false, not neither true nor false. The result: contrary to millennia of philosophical tradition, we can be open futurists without denying bivalence.
Keywords future contingents  bivalence  fatalism  thin red line  law of excluded middle  presupposition failure
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DOI 10.1093/mind/fzv170
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