Norms in Branching Space-Times

  • Nuel Belnap
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 5076)


The idea of norms presupposes agency, and agency presupposes an indeterministic causal order (so that “ought” does not imply “is”). So much can be modeled in “branching time with agents and choices” (BTAC). The seriously ontological independence of agentive choices, however, requires, as a necessary condition, a causal order permitting space-like separation of those choices in a sense definable in “branching space-times with agents and choices” (BSTAC).Let us idealize an agent, when restricted to a single space-time, as a kind of spatio-temporal “worm” in the familiar way, representing the life of the agent in that space-time. Then a representation of “the agent,” since it must include representation of seriously objective choices, must look like a tree with two kinds of branching. In both kinds of branching, there is a single past-pointing worm-like representation of the past-life of the agent up to the branching, and an entire assemblage of distinct worm-like representations of the possible future-life of the agent subsequent to the branching, one for each history in which the life of the agent continues. The first kind of branching occurs at choice-points for the agent. According to BSTAC, such branching will involve a last point of agent’s-choice-not-yet-made (say, a last point of deliberation), but no first point of agent’s-choice-has-beenmade in any possible future-life of the agent. In the second kind of branching, the agent is passive, having two or more possible future-lives due to space-like-related choices by other agents, or by metaphorical “choices” by some space-like-related element of Nature. In this case, BSTAC says that there will be no last point of the past-life of the agent, but instead a first point for each of the agent’s possible future-lives.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nuel Belnap
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Pittsburgh 

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