Worrying about the future
June 3, 2009 — 8:56

Author: Alexander Pruss  Category: Open Theism  Comments: 21

If open future views are true, I think it is puzzling that we have so many propositional attitudes about future propositions that we are in a position to know for sure are not true. We intend, fear or hope (or al three at once!) that something will happen, though the propositions that are the objects of our intentions, fears or hopes are typically ones that, according to open future views, either lack truth value or are false, and sometimes even necessarily false (thus, on the view of Rhoda et al., propositions saying that someone will freely do something are necessarily false). In fact, much of our life is spent dealing with these allegedly non-true propositions. These propositional attitudes are sometimes inappropriate, but sometimes quite appropriate. If one has the intuition that our lives as emoters and agents should be centered on reality, the sheer amount of life appropriately spent in concern about the future will be in tension with open future views.

Comments:
  • Alan Rhoda

    Hi Alex,
    I appreciate your concerns, but I don’t think there’s much for open future proponents to worry about here. The issues you raise turn mostly (if not wholly) on matters of style rather than substance.
    You say that we routinely hope, fear, etc. that something “will” happen. That’s okay with me, as long as we’re clear about the force of that little word “will”. I’ve argued that in a properly strict and predictive philosophical usage, “will” connotes a high, if not maximal, objective probability. On that reading, to hope, fear, etc. that something “will” happen is to hope or fear that something is well-nigh inevitable to happen.
    I freely grant, however, that the vernacular is much more permissive with respect to future-oriented uses of “will”. Thus, I can imagine a person wondering about the possibility of some event occurring in the future (say, Obama’s being reelected) with no inclination to think that outcome is more likely than not and expressing that by saying “I wonder whether Obama will be reelected”.
    I have no problem with such uses of “will” in ordinary contexts. But when we turn to a distinctively philosophical context, say, one in which we’re thinking about the compatibility of divine foreknowledge and future contingency, ordinary usage is too lax to yield unambiguous results. Hence, we need to regiment our terms, including usage of the word “will”. On my preferred regimentation, a person wondering about Obama’s reelection should say something like “I wonder whether Obama gets reelected”. There’s no need to throw in the word “will”, or any other explicit future-tense marker, at all. Compare “I hope she will accept my proposal” with “I hope she accepts my proposal”. The latter is, in fact, more natural, which suggests that the insertion of “will” in the former is gratuitous unless the speaker wants to connote high objective probability.

    June 3, 2009 — 10:49
  • Mike Almeida

    Alan, Alex,
    I’m a little worried about promises concerning the future. So, I say, “I promise I will be meet you for lunch”. I take it that “I will meet you for lunch” is either false or has no truth-value. So, what I am promising (viz. that I will meet you for lunch) is something that I know is not true. How does that differ from promising AT&T that the check is in the mail, which is also not true? It seems to turn out that either (i) I should withold all promises about my free actions in the future or (ii) I may promise what I know is false.
    On a different score, what wants explanation is why natural usage does not confirm regimented use. As far as I can see, the “strict and philosophical use” is, in general and with some caveats, tried against natural or commonsense use, not the other way around. Otherwise, it’s hard to see how metaphysics gets any traction.

    June 3, 2009 — 12:00
  • Mike Almeida

    I’ve argued that in a properly strict and predictive philosophical usage, “will” connotes a high, if not maximal, objective probability. On that reading, to hope, fear, etc. that something “will” happen is to hope or fear that something is well-nigh inevitable to happen.
    It’s hard to see why that would be true. Consider (1),
    1. Your head will be severed off.
    The truth of (1) might (I guess) be taken to entail that the probability is high or certain that it is severed.[Note 1] Anyway, consider (2),
    2. I fear that my head will be severed off.
    The truth of (2) cannot reasonably be taken to entail that the person fears something whose probability is high. I quite reasonably fear things whose probability is low, but whose disvalue is extremely high. I reasonably fear that my head will be severed, even though you tell me that the chances are only(?) 25%. All the more so for 30% or 50% chances. None of these is even close to certain. But this is to say nothing of hoping or wishing or praying, which generally don’t take propositions whose probabilities are high.
    Nt. 1: Incidentally, we shouldn’t take (1) to entail that the objective probability is high. Someone might predict extremely well events whose current objective probability is very low. Objective probabilities vary over time. The objective probability of my finding my way out of a maze at the beginning might be .10, for instance, but ten minutes from now it might be .98. So, it is reasonable to assert that I will find my way out even if the objective probability is low, given the variability of objective probability over time.

    June 3, 2009 — 14:06
  • Alan Rhoda

    Hello Mike,
    Regarding promising, I don’t see why I should be committed to the view that the contents of promises cannot be true. Suppose that in making a promise to A I am firmly settled on doing A and I believe it highly improbable that unforeseen circumstances might force me to reconsider. Under such conditions, I can sincerely promise “I will do A”, even on a regimented usage of “will”, because I take it that my doing A is, effectively, a done deal. It’s gonna happen. There’s no conflict here with my having free will. I exercise my free will in fixedly resolving to do A.
    Regarding natural vs. regimented usage, the latter should certainly be grounded in the former. We don’t want to pull regimentations out of thin air because if we want to be understood we’re going to have to explain them at some point in natural terms. But natural language does include a usage of “will” that could be glossed as “will definitely” or “will inevitably” (e.g., “Given the laws of physics and the current positions of sun, moon, and earth, there will be an eclipse on such-and-such a date.”) In general, how we ought regiment our terms has got to be determined by the use to which they are to be put. Physicists, for example, had better not import all of the ordinary language connotations and uses of, say, “mass” into their theories. Nor it is a pressing concern that people on the street sometimes use terms in ways that don’t correspond to the physicist’s technical usage. The same goes for metaphysics.
    With respect to your second comment (#3), I didn’t claim that when people express hopes and fears using “will” language that they generally believe that what is hoped or feared is well-nigh inevitable. I only pointed out that, on occasion, they could mean that.

    June 3, 2009 — 14:47
  • Mike Almeida

    With respect to your second comment (#3), I didn’t claim that when people express hopes and fears using “will” language that they generally believe that what is hoped or feared is well-nigh inevitable. I only pointed out that, on occasion, they could mean that.
    Ok, good. So when you say ‘a properly predictive usage of ‘will”, you don’t mean the proper or the typical or the correct usage of ‘will’, right? In response to Alex you write,
    You say that we routinely hope, fear, etc. that something “will” happen. That’s okay with me, as long as we’re clear about the force of that little word “will”. I’ve argued that in a properly strict and predictive philosophical usage, “will” connotes a high, if not maximal, objective probability. On that reading, to hope, fear, etc. that something “will” happen is to hope or fear that something is well-nigh inevitable to happen.
    But now it seems like Alex’s point stands. We do have the attitudes he mentions towards future-directed propositions that do not meet your description. Why would we have such attitudes?
    Ok, finally, you write,
    I don’t see why I should be committed to the view that the contents of promises cannot be true. Suppose that in making a promise to A I am firmly settled on doing A and I believe it highly improbable that unforeseen circumstances might force me to reconsider. Under such conditions, I can sincerely promise “I will do A”, even on a regimented usage of “will”, because I take it that my doing A is, effectively, a done deal
    But there is a difference between (A) p being true, (B) p being highly probable and (C) p being effectively a done deal. My comments were about (A). What you talk about are (B) and (C), neither of which entail (A). The worries are not insignificant, I think, since there is no clear connection between Smith believing that he will do X, and Smith having a high credence that he will do X. Let Smith’s credence for doing X match the objective probablities, even. He might still (reasonably)fail to believe he will do it. Let the chances be .8 that I will tell the truth under interrogation. Do I believe simpliciter that I will? Because of well-known lottery problems that would have me believing impossible propositions, I think my answer is no.

    June 3, 2009 — 16:46
  • Alan Rhoda

    Mike: But now it seems like Alex’s point stands. We do have the attitudes he mentions towards future-directed propositions that do not meet your description.
    I don’t think so. The question before us is how best to formulate the propositional objects of future-directed attitudes like hoping and fearing. If our goal is to formulate them in a maximally perspicuous manner, then (I claim) we should not include future-tense markers (like “will”) unless the speaker’s intends to suggest that the feared or hoped-for event is objectively highly probable. Because information about future-directedness is already supplied by the attitude itself, inclusion of “will” in the propositional content is redundant. So, for example, “I hope she will accept my proposal” is better formulated as “I hope she accepts my proposal”. The content isn’t intrinsically future-tensed.
    Mike: There is no clear connection between Smith believing that he will do X, and Smith having a high credence that he will do X.
    Really? I take degree of belief and degree of credence to be the same thing. Anyway, the initial challenge concerned promises. Can one promise to do something and know that it is true that promised action will take place? Sure. We have to be clear, though, about the content of the promise. Most promises are implicitly conditional: Barring unforeseen issues (that might result in non-fulfillment of the promise), I will do A. The truth of the claim “I will do A” depends on the steadiness of the promiser’s resolve and on the non-occurrence of any relevant issues. In principle, a promiser can know, with as much reliability and confidence as you might wish, that “I will do A” is true. If God makes a categorical promise he knows he’s going to keep it.

    June 3, 2009 — 17:50
  • Mike Almeida

    Really? I take degree of belief and degree of credence to be the same thing. Anyway, the initial challenge concerned promises.
    I do too. We were distinguishing credence and belief simpliciter (not degree of belief).
    Can one promise to do something and know that it is true that promised action will take place? Sure.
    I don’t see how, on your view. No matter what you (legitimately) conditionalize on, your conditional probability is not going to reach certainty. So, the general point is the same. You cannot replace the belief that you’ll do A with a high probability that you’ll do A. The latter does not entail or justify the former. The lessons against this approach are spelled out in the well-known lottery paradoxes.
    The question before us is how best to formulate the propositional objects of future-directed attitudes like hoping and fearing. If our goal is to formulate them in a maximally perspicuous manner, then (I claim) we should not include future-tense markers (like “will”) unless the speaker’s intends to suggest that the feared or hoped-for event is objectively highly probable.
    Well, now we’re back to your earlier view. First you want to say that such future tense attitudes should all be formulated in a certain regimented way.
    I’ve argued that in a properly strict and predictive philosophical usage, “will” connotes a high, if not maximal, objective probability. On that reading, to hope, fear, etc. that something “will” happen is to hope or fear that something is well-nigh inevitable to happen.
    Then you say that you are just offering a way that these could occasionally be formulated.
    . . . I didn’t claim that when people express hopes and fears using “will” language that they generally believe that what is hoped or feared is well-nigh inevitable. I only pointed out that, on occasion, they could mean that.
    Now we are back to the original claim.
    If our goal is to formulate them in a maximally perspicuous manner, then (I claim) we should not include future-tense markers (like “will”) unless the speaker’s intends to suggest that the feared or hoped-for event is objectively highly probable.
    It’s not easy to track. What’s it gonna be?

    June 3, 2009 — 20:06
  • ‘So, for example, “I hope she will accept my proposal” is better formulated as “I hope she accepts my proposal”. The content isn’t intrinsically future-tensed.’
    I am afraid I don’t understand. Take the case where the proposal has not yet been made. Then I would be crazy to hope that she now is accepting my proposal. Rather, I have a hope for her future acceptance of it–I hope she will accept it after I make it. The “she accepts” seems just a grammatical variant on “will accept”, or else is a timeless “accepts” which, on an A-theory, will have to be unpacked into “timelessly accepts, accepted, is accepting, will accept”. But since she is not a timeless being (I assume), the first option is not available; since the proposal has yet to be made, the second and third aren’t available; so, what I am really hoping is that she will accept.
    But now there are two readings of “will”. There is the high probability reading and the factual. But neither works in the standard case of hope on your version of the open future view.
    To hope that she will accept is different from hoping that the probability of acceptance is high. Here is an easy way of seeing this. Suppose later on she accepts, but says: “You know, this is a very uncharacteric of me. The likelihood of acceptance was in fact very low.” Then, on the high probability reading, we have to say that in this case the hope was frustrated–for one hoped that the likelihood of acceptance was high, but in fact it was low.
    Now take the factual reading. Suppose I know your open future view to be true. Then I am hoping for something I know to be false. This is a possible mental state. However, this is a very special kind of state: a desperate hope. It is not the standard case of hope.
    Go back to Mike’s really interesting case of promises. Suppose what I am really promising is that there is a high probability of doing the action. Then if I do not do the action, I have kept the promise as long as the probability of doing the action was high. Similarly, even if I do the action, I have broken the promise as long as the probability of doing the action was low. These are absurd results.
    By the way, it need not be wrong to make promises which one thinks one will likely break, as long as one is committed to keeping them. One can be committed to keeping a promise even if one has inductive data that one has broken similar promises–even ones with a similar level of commitment–in the past. Phenomena like that are, alas, a common part of human moral life. (Think of people struggling with addiction, quite sincerely promising to quit to their loved ones, and then breaking these promises–over and over.) May God have mercy on all of us.

    June 4, 2009 — 9:31
  • Alan:
    One more thing. If we do not include future-tense markers, how do we distinguish the following attitudes?
    1. Jane hopes that Fred accepted her proposal.
    2. Jane hopes that Fred is accepting her proposal.
    3. Jane hopes that Fred will accept her proposal.
    4. Jane hopes that Fred accepted, is accepting, or will accept her proposal.
    These are all clearly distinct propositional attitudes.

    June 4, 2009 — 9:36
  • Gordon Knight

    “I promise to meet you tommorow”
    Maybe I am missing something, but it seems that this fits much better into the open view of the future than the closed or fixed view.
    It makes no sense for me to say, as I type this, “I promise to be typing on some blog now”
    A promise seems to require that the truth value of what is promised is not fixed.
    If tense is merely relative, then the future fact of my meeting with you go tommorow is just as fixed as my presently typing this
    It seems a lot of the argument pressuposes that in order to think of something, what we think of must exist or be analyzable in terms of what exists. but this is not true. I am thinking of a purple unicornish creature with Obama’s head on it. If we are not modal realiststhere is no such existent object. Yet I can think of it.
    Or maybe the problem is why my non-existent bankrupsy in three months should bother me, since it does not exist, its just a possibility a non-existent state of affairs.
    But I believe it will become actual. I don’t think I need analyze “will become actual” into anything. I can also think about present non-existent objects in this way. I can wish there is a golden fleece under my chair. The golden fleece, alas, does not exist, but I can wish that it does (now).
    “I hope X becomes actual” is, with respect to the future, what “I wish that x were actual” is to the present.

    June 4, 2009 — 10:31
  • Alan Rhoda

    Mike,
    I don’t think I’m shifting my ground like you allege. I want to distinguish between a regimented usage of “will” and the colloquial, unregimented usage. I also want to distinguish between utterances (or sentences) and propositions. In philosophical contexts, when someone utters a sentence containing a future-tense marker like “will”, I want to nail down what proposition they are expressing before I start looking for truth conditions. But to nail down the proposition I need a way of expressing its semantic content as clearly as possible, and I need a regimented language to do that. Outside of philosophy I don’t worry about such matters, but in philosophy I worry greatly that we aren’t sufficiently self-conscious and self-critical about how our regimented, technical vocabulary interfaces with loose colloquialisms. What you regard as my shifting stance is simply my attempt to keep straight (a) whether a token utterance is colloquial or regimented, and, if the latter, (b) which regimentation scheme is in place, and why.
    As for belief simpliciter, whether we even need the notion and, if so, where on the continuum of credences we ought draw the line between belief and non-belief, depends on what our philosophical objectives are. For present purposes, I happen to think that degrees of belief are all that’s needed. But if you give me a precise definition of belief simpliciter, I’ll do my best to accommodate it within my system.
    Mike: No matter what you (legitimately) conditionalize on, your conditional probability is not going to reach certainty.
    Sure it can. By setting aside conditions I narrow the relevant possibility space to the point that, in the limit, only one possibility remains. Thus, in practice I can regard any promised action as inevitable simply by putting out of consideration anything that might deter the promiser from following through with it.

    June 4, 2009 — 10:51
  • Alan Rhoda

    Hi Alex,
    I begin with a short bit on promises and then address your question about tenses.
    Alex: Suppose what I am really promising is that there is a high probability of doing the action.
    I hope you didn’t read me as construing promises like that. One can’t, I think, intelligibly promise that there is a high probability of doing an action. (Either there is or there isn’t–it’s beyond promising at that point.) One could, I suppose, promise to do something to bring it about that there is a high probability of doing an action. At any rate, my suggestion was merely that one could regard the event of an promised action’s occurring as highly probable by the firmness of one’s resolve and by regarding the occurrence of conditions that might deter one from fulfilling the promise as (collectively) improbable.
    Now, regarding tenses, two points require mention. First, the semantic function of tenses is to tell us to consider a putative series of events from the perspective of a contextually specified temporal reference point (TRP). In non-intensional contexts, the TRP is typically the present (now), though sometimes (as in mathematics) we adopt an absolute or time-neutral reference point. Second, with respect to embedded propositions, attitudes can shift the TRP away from the present. Thus, when future-directed, propositional attitudes like hoping and fearing shift the TRP to some (possibly unspecified) future time. That’s why inserting “will” in “I hope that she will accept my proposal” is either redundant or (less likely) connotes a hope that the world is strongly tending in that direction. Correct is “I hope she accepts (present tense) my proposal.” But while “accepts” is present tense it does not refer to the present (i.e., now); rather, it refers to an imagined present in the future.
    In essence, “I hope she accepts my proposal” tells us that I’m considering possible futures, imagining myself situated at points on those futures at which she either accepts or does not accept the proposal, and expressing a preference for a future of the former sort rather than the latter. There’s nothing here that should create a problem for me.
    Alex: If we do not include future-tense markers, how do we distinguish the following attitudes?
    1. Jane hopes that Fred accepted her proposal.
    2. Jane hopes that Fred is accepting her proposal.
    3. Jane hopes that Fred will accept her proposal.
    4. Jane hopes that Fred accepted, is accepting, or will accept her proposal.

    In (1) the connotations of the propositional attitude are merely epistemic and erotetic–Jane wants something to have been the case and does not know whether it has been. With (3) a connotation of objective probability is put on the table by the future-tense marker “will”. (4) is just the combination of (1), (2), and (3).
    So what about (2)? Because it is not clearly future-directed it is ambiguous between a reading on which there is a futureward shift of the TRP and one on which there isn’t. Thus,
    (2.a) “Jane hopes that Fred is (then) accepting her proposal.”
    (2.b) “Jane hopes that Fred is (now) accepting her proposal.”
    (2.b) is like (1). It’s connotations are merely epistemic and erotetic–Jane wants something to be the case and does not know whether it is. (2.a), however, is a slightly stilted way of saying “Jane hopes that Fred accepts her proposal”, which I discussed above. (2.a), I note, is not merely epistemic and erotetic in its connotations. It allows, but doesn’t commit Jane to, there being a high objective probability of Fred’s accepting her proposal.

    June 4, 2009 — 12:15
  • Alan:
    I misunderstood what you were claiming about promises. Sorry. Anyway, first let’s go back to hopes.
    Consider this principle which seems to be an evident fact about our language:
    A. If the “then” indicates a future point in the context, then “Fred is (then) accepting her proposal” is true if and only if “Fred will (then) accept her proposal” is true.
    Suppose we grant this. Suppose, further, that Jane is certain that it is highly probable that Fred will accept her proposal, and she is certain that it is causally open for Fred not to accept her proposal, and she is certain of your view of the openness of the future. Then if (A) holds, (2.a) has two interpretations, corresponding to your two interpretations of “will”. On one interpretation, the object of the hope is a proposition that Jane is certain is true (that’s the high probability interpretation) and on the other interpretation, the object of the hope is a proposition that Jane is certain is false. But both readings seem to misunderstand Jane’s hope.
    Now go back to promising. On your view, the proposition that I will mow your lawn the day after tomorrow has two interpretations. Now, observe this. On neither interpretation does the proposition express something whose truth or falsity is any longer up to me. On the high probability interpretation, whether it is true that I will mow your lawn the day after tomorrow depends on facts about how things are now–how likely I am to buy a ticket to fly to where you live, etc. (I assume you have a lawn; if you are lucky enough not to have one, then modify the example). None of that any longer depends on me. On the openness interpretation, the proposition is false, and its falsity is due to its contingency, and its contingency is not up to me.
    But how can I promise something that isn’t up to me?
    Perhaps, then, you deny (A)? But then you need, over and beyond your semantics for “will”, a semantics for “(then)”. And this semantics will either be classical, so that for any contextual reading of “then” it is either true that “Fred is (then) accepting the proposal” or it is true that “Fred is not (then) accepting the proposal”, or it will be of the open future sort. If it is classical, then I applaud, but I think you will have abandoned the open future view as a metaphysical view, because you will have a closed future as expressed using “(then)” sentences. In any case, the distinction implied by a denial of (A) would seem to be impossible to express in a language that lacks tenses, all of whose expressions about the future are of the “(then)” sort.

    June 5, 2009 — 7:55
  • I think worries are misplaced, when we understand that the future fully depends on the present, our present, this present, and the past. We are fully equipped to translate the past into the future. Better: that is what our whole system is about. We intuit the future and reality is the past. This is how I recently (by the force of my own logic) had to put it:
    Sensing and knowing coordinate reality and intuition to find and follow confirmation:
    · reality (knowing what is sensed) adapts the knowing organism to the sensing organism;
    · intuition (sensing what is known) adapts the sensed environment to the known environment.

    June 5, 2009 — 10:16
  • “A promise seems to require that the truth value of what is promised is not fixed.”
    If “fixed” just means “causally fixed by the present state of the world” then the B-theorist can affirm this. (I am not sure whether the B-theorist ought to affirm it, though. Here is a case. God promises Sally that he will raise her and her husband from the dead. Ten minutes later God promises Sally’s husband that he will raise him and his wife from the dead. By the time God makes the second promise, the raising is already fixed, since it’s a necessary truth that God keeps his promises.)

    June 5, 2009 — 10:26
  • Alan Rhoda

    Hey guys,
    I hope to resume discussion in a couple days. Right now my family is getting reading for a summer vacation.
    Alan

    June 7, 2009 — 14:48
  • I am late getting to this thread and haven’t read it all yet… But I want to comment on Alex’s initial statement that
    “If one has the intuition that our lives as emoters and agents should be centered on *reality*, the sheer amount of life appropriately spent in concern about the future will be in tension with open future views.”
    I wonder about this so-called intuition. Most of this discussion concerns the future, but can’t we also have an emotive life about the past? I can regret or take pride in past actions or accomplishments or whatever… So this isn’t solely an open-future issue – I can likewise *worry* about what I don’t know has occurred in the past or, what is presently happening… Thus these issues strike me as epistemic, not metaphysical in structure. (Sorry if someone already said this above.)

    June 8, 2009 — 11:39
  • Sure, we have these attitudes towards the past–but we do not appropriately have these attitudes towards propositions about the past that we uniformly know to be false or lacking in truth value. How could I appropriate take pride in an action of which I knew that it is false that it took place or regret having done something where I knew that the claim that I did it has no truth value.

    June 9, 2009 — 9:20
  • Matt Benton

    Hi Alex: Okay, but I don’t really know what this means: “…we do not appropriately have these attitudes towards propositions about the past that we uniformly know to be false or lacking in truth value.” Here’s a proposition that is false for some subject S: *S got a t-track job while on the market in 2008-09*. Surely S can appropriately regret the falsity of that proposition.
    I guess I’m thinking that epistemically these two cases seem about on a par: worrying because one doesn’t know the truth-value of a past/present proposition that is salient, and worrying because one doesn’t know what, though currently truth-valueless, the truth-value of a proposition *will be*.

    June 9, 2009 — 12:29
  • Alan Rhoda

    Hi Alex,
    I don’t accept your principle (A) as it stands. To my mind it blurs important distinctions between different semantic roles that “will” could be playing. I accept it in the “if” direction, but not in the “only if” direction.
    Let me add a point of clarification about the example “Jane hopes that Fred will accept her proposal.” I contended above that the word “will” here may either be redundant (because information about future-directedness is carried in context by the word “hopes”) or connote that Jane hopes that there is a high objective probability that Fred accepts her proposal. I now think I can explain why we might be tempted to regard as interchangeable (in certain contexts)
    (a) “Jane hopes that Fred accepts her proposal”
    (b) “Jane hopes that Fred will accept her proposal”
    My answer is that the use of “will” in (b), when it is not intended to convey high objective probability, is there to resolve a possible ambiguity in (a) between
    (a.1) “Jane hopes that Fred is (now) accepting her proposal”
    (a.2) “Jane hopes that Fred is (then) accepting her proposal”
    Inserting “will” rules out (a.1).
    Now, to suppose that “will” is not intended to convey high objective probability does not render it inconsistent with a high objective probability. Thus, we can suppose that Jane hopes for Fred’s eventual acceptance of her proposal regardless of how objectively probable (she thinks) that event is, so long as it is not zero. Moreover, even if “Fred will accept the proposal” is not true, and even if Jane is absolutely certain that it is not true (or even false), she can still coherently hope that Fred accepts the proposal because she can coherently hope that “Fred will accept the proposal” becomes true. (Recall that on an open future semantics, the truth values of propositions about future contingents are subject to change.)

    June 9, 2009 — 17:31
  • Alan:
    “she can still coherently hope that Fred accepts the proposal because she can coherently hope that ‘Fred will accept the proposal’ becomes true”:
    But I say that “becomes true” here surely means “will become true”. (It’s not becoming true as we speak–it concerns the future–in the case we are most interested in.) And now the problem returns.
    As to my principle (A), let me try pushing a bit further. Suppose t1 is in the future. Is the following true:
    (A*) “Fred is accepting her proposal at t1” is true if and only if “Fred will accept her proposal at t1” is true.
    If yes, then you need to show how you can distinguish “Fred is (then) accepting her proposal” in a context where “then” points to t1 from “Fred is accepting her proposal at t1” in truth value.
    If not, is it at least true in the case of one of your two senses of “will”?

    June 10, 2009 — 22:46