, Volume 188, Issue 1, pp 41-65,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 11 Jan 2012

Branching in the landscape of possibilities

Abstract

The metaphor of a branching tree of future possibilities has a number of important philosophical and logical uses. In this paper we trace this metaphor through some of its uses and argue that the metaphor works the same way in physics as in philosophy. We then give an overview of formal systems for branching possibilities, viz., branching time and (briefly) branching space-times. In a next step we describe a number of different notions of possibility, thereby sketching a landscape of possibilities. In the final section of the paper we look at the place of branching-based possibilities in that larger landscape of possibilities. Our main message is that far from being an outlandish metaphysical extravagancy, branching-based possibilities are epistemically as well as metaphysically basic.