Branching space-time is a simple blend of relativity and indeterminism. Postulates and definitions rigorously describe the causal order relation between possible point events. The key postulate is a version of everything has a causal origin; key defined terms include history and choice point. Some elementary but helpful facts are proved. Application is made to the status of causal contemporaries of indeterministic events, to how splitting of histories happens, to indeterminism without choice, and to Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen distant correlations.
permits a sound and rigorously definable notion of ‘originating cause’ or causa causans—a type of transition event—of an outcome event. Mackie has famously suggested that causes form a family of ‘inus’ conditions, where an inus condition is ‘an insufficient but non-redundant part of an unnecessary but sufficient condition’. In this essay the needed concepts of BST theory are developed in detail, and it is then proved that the causae causantes of a given outcome event have exactly the structure of a (...) set of Mackie inus conditions. The proof requires the assumption that there is no EPR-like ‘funny business’. This seems enough to constitute a theory of ‘causation’ in at least one of its many senses. Introduction The cement of the universe Preliminaries 3.1 First definitions and postulates 3.2 Ontology: propositions 3.3 Ontology: initial events 3.4 Ontology: outcome events 3.5 Ontology: transition events 3.6 Propositional language applied to events Causae causantes 4.1 Causae causantes are basic primary transition events 4.2 Causae causantes of an outcome chain 4.3 No funny business Causae causantes and inns and inus conditions 5.1 Inns conditions of outcome chains: not quite 5.2 Inns conditions of outcome chains 5.3 Inns conditions of scattered outcome events 5.4 Inus conditions for disjunctive outcome events 5.5 Inns and inus conditions of transition events Counterfactual conditionals Appendix: Tense and modal connectives in BST. (shrink)
We suggest a rigorous theory of how objective single-case transition probabilities fit into our world. The theory combines indeterminism and relativity in the “branching space–times” pattern, and relies on the existing theory of causae causantes (originating causes). Its fundamental suggestion is that (at least in simple cases) the probabilities of all transitions can be computed from the basic probabilities attributed individually to their originating causes. The theory explains when and how one can reasonably infer from the probabilities of one “chance (...) set-up” to the probabilities of another such set-up that is located far away. (shrink)
The theory of branching space-times is designed as a rigorous framework for modelling indeterminism in a relativistically sound way. In that framework there is room for "funny business", i.e., modal correlations such as occur through quantummechanical entanglement. This paper extends previous work by Belnap on notions of "funny business". We provide two generalized definitions of "funny business". Combinatorial funny business can be characterized as "absence of prima facie consistent scenarios", while explanatory funny business characterizes situations in which no localized explanation (...) of inconsistency can be given. These two definitions of funny business are proved to be equivalent, and we provide an example that shows them to be strictly more general than the previously available definitions of "funny business". (shrink)
There is no EPR-like funny business if (contrary to apparent fact)our world is as indeterministic as you wish, but is free from theEPR-like quantum mechanical phenomena such as is sometimes described interms of superluminal causation or correlation between distant events.The theory of branching space-times can be used to sharpen thetheoretical dichotomy between EPR-like funny business and noEPR-like funny business. Belnap (2002) offered two analyses of thedichotomy, and proved them equivalent. This essay adds two more, bothconnected with Reichenbachs principle of the (...) common cause, theprinciple that sends us hunting for a common-causal explanation ofdistant correlations. The two previous ideas of funny business and thetwo ideas introduced in this essay are proved to be all equivalent,which increases ones confidence in the stability of (and helpfulnessof) the BST analysis of the dichotomy between EPR-like funny businessand its absence. (shrink)
Greenberger. Horne. Shimony, and Zeilinger gave a new version of the Bell theorem without using inequalities (probabilities). Mermin summarized it concisely; but Bohm and Hiley criticized Mermin's proof from contextualists' point of view. Using the branching space-time language, in this paper a proof will be given that is free of these difficulties. At the same time we will also clarify the limits of the validity of the theorem when it is taken as a proof that quantum mechanics is not compatible (...) with a deterministic world nor with a world that permits correlated space-related events without a common cause. (shrink)
This paper follows Part I of our essay on case-intensional first-order logic (CIFOL; Belnap and Müller (2013)). We introduce a framework of branching histories to take account of indeterminism. Our system BH-CIFOL adds structure to the cases, which in Part I formed just a set: a case in BH-CIFOL is a moment/history pair, specifying both an element of a partial ordering of moments and one of the total courses of events (extending all the way into the future) that that moment (...) is part of. This framework allows us to define the familiar Ockhamist temporal/modal connectives, most notably for past, future, and settledness. The novelty of our framework becomes visible in our discussion of substances in branching histories, i.e., in its first-order part. That discussion shows how the basic idea of tracing an individual thing from case to case via an absolute property is applicable in a branching histories framework. We stress the importance of keeping apart extensionality and moment-definiteness, and give a formal account of how the specification of natural sortals and natural qualities turns out to be a coordination task in BH-CIFOL. We also provide a detailed answer to Lewis’s well-known argument against branching histories, exposing the fallacy in that argument. (shrink)
This is part I of a two-part essay introducing case-intensional first order logic, an easy-to-use, uniform, powerful, and useful combination of first-order logic with modal logic resulting from philosophical and technical modifications of Bressan’s General interpreted modal calculus. CIFOL starts with a set of cases; each expression has an extension in each case and an intension, which is the function from the cases to the respective case-relative extensions. Predication is intensional; identity is extensional. Definite descriptions are context-independent terms, and lambda-predicates (...) and -operators can be introduced without constraints. These logical resources allow one to define, within CIFOL, important properties of properties, viz., extensionality and absoluteness, Bressan’s chief innovation that allows tracing an individual across cases without recourse to any notion of “rigid designation” or “trans-world identity.” Thereby CIFOL abstains from incorporating any metaphysical principles into the quantificational machinery, unlike extant frameworks of quantified modal logic. We claim that this neutrality makes CIFOL a useful tool for discussing both metaphysical and scientific arguments involving modality and quantification, and we illustrate by discussing in diagrammatic detail a number of such arguments involving the extensional identification of individuals via absolute properties, essential properties, de re vs. de dicto, and the results of possible tests. (shrink)
Gupta’s Rule of Revision theory of truth builds on insights to be found in Martin and Woodruff and Kripke in order to permanently deepen our understanding of truth, of paradox, and of how we work our language while our language is working us. His concept of a predicate deriving its meaning by way of a Rule of Revision ought to impact significantly on the philosophy of language. Still, fortunately, he has left me something to.
“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. (shrink)
Indeterminism, understood as a notion that an event may be continued in a few alternative ways, invokes the question what a region of chanciness looks like. We concern ourselves with its topological and spatiotemporal aspects, abstracting from the nature or mechanism of chancy processes. We first argue that the question arises in Montague-Lewis-Earman conceptualization of indeterminism as well as in the branching tradition of Prior, Thomason and Belnap. As the resources of the former school are not rich enough to study (...) topological issues, we investigate the question in the framework of branching space-times of Belnap (Synthese 92:385–434, 1992). We introduce a topology on a branching model as well as a topology on a history in a branching model. We define light-cones and assume four conditions that guarantee the light-cones so defined behave like light-cones of physical space-times. From among various topological separation properties that are relevant to our question, we investigate the Hausdorff property. We prove that each history in a branching model satisfies the Hausdorff property. As for the satisfaction of the Hausdorff property in the entire branching model, we prove that it is related to the phenomenon of passive indeterminism, which we describe in detail. (shrink)
Popper’s introduction of ‘‘propensity’’ was intended to provide a solid conceptual foundation for objective single-case probabilities. By considering the partly opposed contributions of Humphreys and Miller and Salmon, it is argued that when properly understood, propensities can in fact be understood as objective single-case causal probabilities of transitions between concrete events. The chief claim is that propensities are well-explicated by describing how they fit into the existing formal theory of branching space-times, which is simultaneously indeterministic and causal. Several problematic examples, (...) some commonsense and some quantum-mechanical, are used to make clear the advantages of invoking branching space-times theory in coming to understand propensities. (shrink)
A structure is described that can serve as a foundation for a semantics for a modal agentive construction such as sees to it that Q ([ stit: Q]). The primitives are Tree,,Instant, Agent, choice. Eleven simple postulates governing this structure are set forth and motivated. Tree and encode a picture of branching time consisting of moments gathered into maximal chains called histories. Instant imposes a time-like ordering. Agent consists of agents, and choice assigns to each agent and each moment in (...) Tree a set of possible choices, where each possible choice is a set of histories. All of these ingredients are referred to in the semantics suggested for [ stit: Q]. The most complex part of the discussion is the motivation for the definition of what it means for a typically non-terminating chain of moments jointly to witness the truth of [ stit: Q] at a moment.The paper begins with an informal account of the Refref conjecture, which says that the only way to refrain from refraining from seeing to something is to see to it. The paper ends with a consideration of an argument of Prior's that in a certain sense contemplation and action are inconsistent. (shrink)
The conditional,if an agent did something, then the agent could have done otherwise, is analyzed usingstit theory, which is a logic of seeing to it that based on agents making choices in the context of branching time. The truth of the conditional is found to be a subtle matter that depends on how it is interpreted (e.g., on what otherwise refers to, and on the difference between could and might) and also on whether or not there are busy choosers that (...) can make infinitely many choices in a finite span of time. (shrink)
An informal sketch is offered of some chief ideas of the (formal) ``branching histories'' theory of objective possibility, free will and indeterminism. Reference is made to ``branching time'' and to ``branching space-times,'' with emphasis on a theme that they share: Objective possibilities are in Our World, organized by the relation of causal order.
Using Aristotle's well-known sea battle as our example, we offer a precise, intelligible analysis of future contingent assertions in the presence of indeterminism. After explaining our view of the problem, we present a picture of indeterminism in the context of a tree ofbranching histories. There follows a brief description ofthe semantic bases for our double-time-reference theory of future contingents. We then set out our account. Before concluding, we discuss some ramifications of, and alternatives to, a double-time-reference approach to the problem (...) of future contingents. There are some technical ideas at the foundation of our analysis, ideas of which most philosophers are largely ignorant; on our view, in the absence of mastery ofthese ideas it is quite impossible to speak responsibly about either indeterminism or free will. (shrink)
"Flat pre-semantics" lets each parameter of truth be considered separately and equally, and without worrying about grammatical complications. This allows one to become a little clearer on a variety of philosophical-logical points, such as the usefulness of Carnapian tolerance and the deep relativity of truth. A more definite result of thinking in terms of flat pre-semantics lies in the articulation of some instructive ways of categorizing operations on meanings in purely logical terms in relation to various parameters of truth ; (...) namely, closing vs. leaving open, local vs. translocal, and anchored vs. unanchored. Basic relations among these categories are established. (shrink)
Following von Wright, ``transitions'' are needed for understanding agency. I indicate how von Wright's account of transitions should be adapted to take account of objective indeterminism, using the idea of branching space-time. The essential point is the need to locate transitions not merely in space-time, but concretely amid the indeterministic, causally structured possibilities of our (only) world. (This is a ``postprint'' of Belnap 1999, as cited in the paper. The page numbers do not, of course, match those of the original.).
Stit theory (a logic of seeing-to-it-that) is applied to cases involving many agents. First treated are complex nestings of stits involving distinct agents. The discussion is driven by the logical impossibility of "a sees to it that b sees to it that Q" in the technical sense, even though that seems to make sense in everyday language, Of special utility are the concepts of "forced choice", of the creation of deontic states, and of probabilities, Second, joint agency, both plain and (...) strict (every participant is essential) is given a rigorous treatment. A central theorem is that strict joint agency is itself agentive. (shrink)
The first section (§1) of this essay defends reliance on truth values against those who, on nominalistic grounds, would uniformly substitute a truth predicate. I rehearse some practical, Carnapian advantages of working with truth values in logic. In the second section (§2), after introducing the key idea of auxiliary parameters (§2.1), I look at several cases in which logics involve, as part of their semantics, an extra auxiliary parameter to which truth is relativized, a parameter that caters to special kinds (...) of sentences. In many cases, this facility is said to produce truth values for sentences that on the face of it seem neither true nor false. Often enough, in this situation appeal is made to the method of supervaluations, which operate by “quantifying out” auxiliary parameters, and thereby produce something like a truth value. Logics of this kind exhibit striking differences. I first consider the role that Tarski gives to supervaluation in first order logic (§2.2), and then, after an interlude that asks whether neither-true-nor-false is itself a truth value (§2.3), I consider sentences with non-denoting terms (§2.4), vague sentences (§2.5), ambiguous sentences (§2.6), paradoxical sentences (§2.7), and future-tensed sentences in indeterministic tense logic (§2.8). I conclude my survey with a look at alethic modal logic considered as a cousin (§2.9), and finish with a few sentences of “advice to supervaluationists” (2.10), advice that is largely negative. The case for supervaluations as a road to truth is strong only when the auxiliary parameter that is “quantified out” is in fact irrelevant to the sentences of interest—as in Tarski’s definition of truth for classical logic. In all other cases, the best policy when reporting the results of supervaluation is to use only explicit phrases such as “settled true” or “determinately true,” never dropping the qualification. (shrink)