, Volume 196, Issue 1, pp 69–85 | Cite as

A critical discussion of Prior’s philosophical and tense-logical analysis of the ideas of indeterminism and human freedom

  • Peter ØhrstrømEmail author
S.I. : Real Possibilities, Indeterminism and Free Will


This paper is a critical discussion of A.N. Prior’s contribution to the modern understanding of indeterminism and human freedom of choice. Prior suggested that these ideas should be conceived in terms of his tense logic. It can be demonstrated that his approach provides an attractive formalization that makes it possible to discuss indeterminism and human freedom of choice in a very precise manner and in a broader metaphysical context. It is also argued that Prior’s development of this approach was closely linked to his very personal struggles with fundamental religious and metaphysical questions. In his opinion, holding the doctrine of divine foreknowledge together with the doctrine of human freewill gives rise to difficult logical and philosophical problems. It appears that Prior, rather early on, decided to support what was later known as the Peircean solution, although he also analysed what he considered to be the most important alternative solution—the Ockhamist solution. This paper offers a discussion of some of Prior’s published books and papers as well as some of the papers in his Nachlass.


Arthur Norman Prior Divine foreknowledge Human freedom of choice Tense logic The Peircean solution The Ockhamistic solution Determinism 


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Communication and PsychologyAalborg UniversityAalborgDenmark

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