Future Contingents and the Logic of Temporal Omniscience

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 never true. Such views, however, seem inconsistent with what John MacFarlane has called the determinacy intuition—the intuition, roughly, that if something has happened, then (looking backwards) it was the case that it would happen. This tension forms, in large part, what might be called the problem of future contingents. A dominant trend in semantic theorizing about future contingents—paradigmatically, Thomason (1970) and MacFarlane himself (2003, 2014)—has maintained that the apparent tension between the “open future” and the “determinacy intuition” 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 omniscience, indeterminism, and time. 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 agent ought, and ought not, 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
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive
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

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Knowing Future Contingents.Ezio Di Nucci - 2012 - Logos and Episteme 3 (1):43-50.
The Open Future, Bivalence and Assertion.Corine Besson & Anandi Hattiangadi - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 167 (2):251-271.
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.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

109 ( #45,724 of 2,171,797 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

109 ( #1,101 of 2,171,797 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums