, Volume 188, Issue 3, pp 367-379

First online:

Branching time, indeterminism and tense logic

Unveiling the Prior–Kripke letters
  • Thomas PlougAffiliated withDepartment of Communication and Psychology, Aalborg University Email author 
  • , Peter ØhrstrømAffiliated withDepartment of communication and psychology, Aalborg University

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This paper deals with the historical and philosophical background of the introduction of the notion of branching time in philosophical logic as it is revealed in the hitherto unpublished mail-correspondence between Saul Kripke and A.N. Prior in the late 1950s. The paper reveals that the idea was first suggested by Saul Kripke in a letter to A.N. Prior, dated September 3, 1958, and it is shown how the elaboration of the idea in the course of the correspondence was intimately intervowen with considerations of how to represent indeterminism and of the adequacy of tensed logic in light of special relativity. The correspondence underpins the point that Prior’s later development of branching time may be understood as a crucial part of his attempt at the formulating a conceptual framework integrating basic human notions of time and free choice.


Branching time Indeterminism Tense logic Free choice Special relativity Saul Kripke A. N. Prior