Logic, Thought and Action

Volume 2 of the series Logic, Epistemology, and the Unity of Science pp 291-313

Agents and Agency in Branching Space-Times

  • Nuel BelnapAffiliated withPittsburgh University

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Branching time puts an indeterminist causal structure on instantaneous but world-wide “super-events” called moments. This theory has “action at a distance” as an inevitable presupposition. In contrast, branching space-times puts an indeterminist causal order on tiny little point events. The benefit of branching space-times theory is that it can represent local indeterminist events with only local outcomes. The “seeing to it that” or “stit” theory of agency developed in Belnap, Perloff and Xu, 2001 employs branching time as a substructure, and thus has the following shortcoming: It is inevitably committed to an account of action-outcomes that makes them instantaneously world-wide. This essay asks how the stit theory of agency can be adapted to branching space-times in such a way that action-outcomes are local.