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• #19145
derosa8
Member

What is the truth value of propositions about the future? Can we analyze them in the same way as other propositions?

For example:

1. I will go to the mall tomorrow.
2. Ben will get married one day.

Is it neither true or false at the moment? Or is it true or false yet its status is currently unknown?

#19146
dardner
Member

I am not 100% on this but I think it is considered indeterminate

If you permit me to guess here,

1 I will go to the mall tomorrow.
2 I will not go to the mall tomorrow.

1 is true if 2 is false or 2 is true if 1 is false.
I do not think it is possible to be certain about a future event but maybe the following would be acceptable,

1 Ben works at the mall everyday.
2Ben never misses work.
3 Ben is likely to go to the mall tomorrow.
if 1 and 2 are true then 3 is true. Ben could get sick and miss work tomorrow but because 3 is not definitive it is still true.

Any thoughts? Do I have this right?

#19147
gerard.casey
Participant

John D: what you’re asking about are so-called future contingents. This is a perennial and unresolved problem in logic/epistemology ever since Aristotle talked about the sea battle that was going to take place tomorrow.

There appear to be two basic options here: 1. these propositions have a determinate truth value but it’s not known to us at the moment but is known to somebody with greater epistemological powers, e.g. God; or, 2. these propositions have no determinate truth value and so are known to no one, including God.

The argument has been going on for 2,500 years and the jury’s still out!

GC

#19148
gerard.casey
Participant

osgood401: In your response to JohnD’s post, you write:

“1 Ben works at the mall everyday.
2Ben never misses work.
3 Ben is likely to go to the mall tomorrow.
if 1 and 2 are true then 3 is true. Ben could get sick and miss work tomorrow but because 3 is not definitive it is still true.”

This isn’t a problem with future contingents but is, rather, a matter of probability which raises a whole other set of problems. As you phrase it, a lot hinges on premise 2. ‘Ben never misses work’. Is this to be understood historically (i.e. as a matter of fact, Ben has never missed work to date) or predictively or normatively (Ben will never miss work). If it’s taken historically, then it seems to me that the argument would be valid even if Ben were to become ill and stay at home. However, if you take it predictively or normatively, then it’s hard to see how Ben’s stay-at-homeness hasn’t falsified the premise.

As should be apparent from this response and my previous response to JohnD, issues of probability, future contingency and the like are some of the more vexed problems in the philosophy of logic. See Susan Haack’s book called Philosophy of Logics for more on such topics.

GC

#19149
dardner
Member

I would have been more clear had I wrote “Ben has yet to miss work” and In this case wouldn’t have required much on my part to have done so. At some point how exacting does one have to be? I tend to think in its context it would be taken historically for the same reason the conclusion is likely and not absolute. It seems difficult to account for all possible interpretations, for instance “Ben has yet to miss work” I could say” I have never missed work even when I didn’t show up, what does that have to do with Ben being at the mall tomorrow” I know that is cheeky but at what point is the other party responsible for comprehension. That is not to say I think I can be hopelessly vague, I think of a book club where everyone has a different interpretation of what the author meant. In such a case, instead of coming to a consensus perhaps they should admit the author wasn’t very good.

Does probability about future events play any useful role in logic?

1) so and so is running as the democrat in the 2016 election
2) so on and so forth is running as the republican in the 2016 election
3) Libertarian X is running in the 2016 election
4)Libertarian X will not win the 2016 election, So what.

Do not take this as a defeatist attitude but for 4 to be false the most unlikely circumstance would have to occur. When then, would the improbable be enough to invalidate certain claims about a future event?

You mention Haack, I have watched a lecture of hers on scientism a while ago. She pointed out flaws with Karl Popper then said he was on to something but did not expand on this notion, which is about where I am with his method. Do you have any thoughts on this?

In watching the intelligent design evolution debates the scientists trot out this god of the gaps fallacy with the underlying premiss that science will eventually fill those gaps. That would seem to me a future proposition and in light of sciences inability to prove itself, one of rather dubious probability beyond a seemingly endless array of assumptions.

#19150
derosa8
Member

Thanks Dr. Casey

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