### The Modal Openness of the Future

There's a simple and valid argument for fatalism based on a proposition which most analytic philosophers would accept. The assumption is this

- There is an actual world, alpha, which contains a complete history. Unlike other merely possible worlds, alpha is the possible world that "obtains".

Now,

*fatalism*can be understood as the doctrine that no events have an intermediate chance of occurring. By a 'chance' I mean a single-case objective probability. By an 'intermediate' chance I mean a value between zero and one. If the chance of an event is one, then it is unpreventable--it's guaranteed to happen. If the chance of an event is zero, then its non-occurrence is unpreventable--it's guaranteed not to happen. Fatalism simply says that, for any event, its chance of occurring is either zero or one.

Now, consider the actual world, alpha. This includes a complete history. Hence, for every possible event E, either alpha entails that E occurs, or alpha entails that E doesn't occur. If alpha entails that E occurs, then the chance of E's occurring given alpha equals one. If alpha entails that E does not occur, then the chance of E's occurring given alpha equals zero. Using CH() to represent the chance function, this means that for arbitrary E, either

- CH(E | alpha) = 0, or
- CH(E | alpha) = 1.

*is*the case has got to be either zero or one. Consider my sitting at time T. If it is the case that I sit at t, then the chance that I sit at T is one. It's too late to prevent it. Likewise, if it is the case that I stand at T, then the chance that I sit at T is zero. It's too late to bring it about that I sit at T. Thus, since alpha (in its entirety) obtains, and thus is the case, we get

- CH(alpha) = 1.

- CH(E) = 1.

- CH(E) = 0.

To avoid fatalism the initial assumption must be rejected. We must either deny that there is an actual world (i.e., we must deny that any possible world which includes a complete history obtains), or we must deny that possible worlds must include a complete history, in particular, a complete future history. Call that denial the

*modal openness of the future*thesis. I maintain that the future is modally open. As contingencies are resolved, the modal changes. Things that

*were*possible may not

*now*be possible. Things that

*are*necessary may not always

*have been*necessary.

## 1 Comments:

The debate between open or closed future is something I will probably never be able to fully comprehend - but it is something that really provokes thoughts.

By the way, did you know you are on YouTube?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85o-S9K7qCw

Post a Comment

## Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home