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

- 325 Downloads
- 2 Citations

## Abstract

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.

## Keywords

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

- Belnap, N., & Green, M. (1994). Indeterminism and ‘The Thin Red Line’.
*Philosophical Perspectives*,*8*, 365–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Belnap, N., Perloff, M., & Xu, M. (2001).
*Facing the future. Agents and choices in our indeterminist world*. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar - Craig, W. L. (1989). Middle knowledge: A Calvinist–Arminian rapprochement? In C. H. Pinnock (Ed.),
*The grace of God, the will of man*(pp. 141–164). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Books.Google Scholar - Grimshaw, M. (2002). The prior Prior: Neglected early writings of Arthur N. Prior.
*The Heythrop Journal*,*43*(4), 480–495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Hasker, W. (1998).
*God, time, and knowledge*. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar - Hasle, P. (2012). The problem of predestination: As a prelude to A.N. Prior’s tense logic.
*Synthese*,*188*(3), 331–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Jakobsen, D. (2016). An illusion close to life.
*Synthese*,*1*, 1–11. doi: 10.1007/s11229-016-1076-2.Google Scholar - Kenny, A. (1971).
*Arthur Norman Prior (1914–1969)*(pp. 321–349). Proceedings of the British Academy, LVI.Google Scholar - Kripke, S. (2014a). Letter from Kripke to Prior 03.09.1958.
*The Nachlass of A. N. Prior*. Retrieved from http://nachlass.prior.aau.dk. - Kripke, S. (2014b). Letter from Kripke to Prior 13.10.1958.
*The Nachlass of A. N. Prior*. Retrieved from http://nachlass.prior.aau.dk. - Leibniz, G. W. (1673).
*Confessio philosophi*. Eng. Translation:*A Philosopher’s Creed*, Wikisource, the free online library. Retrieved from https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Confessio_philosophi. - Mates, B. (1953).
*Stoic logic*. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar - Ockham, W. (1969).
*Predestination, God’s Foreknowledge, and Future Contingents*. New York: Translated by Marilyn McCord Adams and Norman Kretzmann.Google Scholar - Øhrstrøm, P. (1981). Problems regarding the future operatorin an indeterministic tense logic.
*Danish Yearbook of Philosophy*,*18*, 81–95.Google Scholar - Øhrstrøm, P. (2014). What William of Ockham and Luis de Molina would have said to Nuel Belnap: A discussion of some arguments against ‘The Thin Red Line’. In T. Müller (Ed.),
*Nuel Belnap on indeterminism and free action*(Vol. 2, pp. 175–190). Outstanding contributions to logic, Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar - Øhrstrøm, P., & Hasle, P. (1995).
*Temporal logic*., From Ancient ideas to artificial intelligence Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Øhrstrøm, P., & Hasle, P. (2006). A.N. Prior’s logic. In D. M. Gabbay & J. Woods (Eds.),
*The handbook of the history of logic*(pp. 399–446). Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar - Øhrstrøm, P. & Hasle, P. (2011, Revised 2015). “Future contingents”.
*The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy*. Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2015/entries/future-contingent. - Plantinga, A. (1986). On Ockham’s way out.
*Faith and Philosophy*,*3*(3), 235–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Ploug, T. & Øhrstrøm, P. (2011). Branching time, indeterminism and tense logic—unveiling the Prior–Kripke letters.
*Synthese,*188, 367–379 (Nr. 3, 1.10.2012).Google Scholar - Prior, A. N. (1953). Three-valued logic and future contingents.
*Philophical Quarterly*,*1953*, 317–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Prior, A. N. (1957).
*Time and modality*. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar - Prior, A. N. (1966). Postulates for tense-logic.
*American Philosophical Quarterly*,*3*(2), 153–161.Google Scholar - Prior, A. N. (1967).
*Past, present and future*. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar - Prior, A. N. (2003). In P. Hasle, P. Øhrstrøm, T. Braüner, & J. Copeland (Eds.),
*Papers on time and tense*. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar - Prior, A. N. (2014a). Diary entry 25 March 1942.
*The Nachlass of A.N. Prior*. Retrieved from http://nachlass.prior.aau.dk/. - Prior, A. N. (2014b). Determinism in philosophy and in theology.
*The Nachlass of A.N. Prior*. Retrieved from http://nachlass.prior.aau.dk/. - Prior, A. N. (2014c). Of God’s plan and purpose.
*The Nachlass of A. N. Prior*. Retrieved from http://nachlass.prior.aau.dk/. - Prior, A. N. (2014d). Some free thinking about time.
*The Nachlass of A. N. Prior*. Retrieved from http://nachlass.prior.aau.dk. - Prior, A. N. (2014e). Postulate sets for tense logic.
*The Nachlass of A. N. Prior*. Retrieved from http://nachlass.prior.aau.dk. - Prior, A. N. (2014f).
*First things in logic*. Aalborg: Aalborg University Press.Google Scholar - Prior, A. N. (2014g). Letter from Prior to Kripke 10.09.1958.
*The Nachlass of A. N. Prior*. Retrieved from http://nachlass.prior.aau.dk. - Prior, A. N. (2014h). Letter from Prior to Kripke 27.10.1958.
*The Nachlass of A. N. Prior*. Retrieved from http://nachlass.prior.aau.dk. - Prior, A. N. (2014i). Letter from Prior to Mates, 06.08.1954.
*The Nachlass of A. N. Prior*. Retrieved from http://nachlass.prior.aau.dk.