Determinism, the Open Future and Branching Time

  • Sven Rosenkranz
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 361)


In this chapter, I argue that on a natural understanding of both views, indeterminism and branching time are incompatible, contrary to what recent literature on the open future suggests. In the first section, I introduce two notions of truth-determination that importantly differ from the notion of truth-making. In the second section, I use these notions to devise a definition of determinism that captures the central idea that, given the past and present, the future cannot but be a certain way. Indeterminism is then defined in opposition to determinism in the third section. In the fourth section, I argue that the tree-like representation of future possibilities is not suggestive of branching time and that indeterminism is perfectly consistent with assumption of a Thin Red Line, that is, a unique way things will turn out to be, a claim shown to be unthreatened by considerations concerning human freedom. In the fifth section, I argue that taking branching time seriously implies commitment to determinism. In the sixth section, I consider a recent attempt to capture the open future and show that it is naturally seen to draw on a conception of the determinately true as what is determined to be true in the second of the senses introduced in the first section. In the seventh section, I argue that the authors’ suggestion that determinism is nonetheless consistent with admission of a multitude of future possibilities is at best unmotivated and at worst misguided. Section eight summarises the results.


Actual World Open Future Counterfactual Dependence Future Contingent Assertoric Content 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ICREAUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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