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future contingents


Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


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L ogic, metaphysics The problem of future contingents concerns ascertaining the truth-value of statements about future events. If we adhere to the classical principle of bivalence that every statement must be either true or false, then future contingent statements will be either true or false in advance of the event. This conclusion, which seems to commit us to fatalism , has led some to skepticism regarding the principle of bivalence, although other philosophers argue that a proper understanding of bivalence for future contingent statements does not ensnare us in fatalism. The problem, which originated in Aristotle 's discussion of the sea-battle tomorrow, was much disputed by medieval logicians, because if future contingent statements are neither true nor false, divine foreknowledge would come into question. In the twentieth century Lukasiewicz sought to deal with this problem by introducing three-valued logic , which in turn led to the development of various many-valued logics . “Aristotle dismissed the truth-states of alternatives regarding future-contingent matters, whose occurrence – like that of the sea-battle tomorrow – is not yet determinate by us, and may indeed actually be undetermined.” Rescher, Topics in Philosophic Logic ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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