continuing from the previous discussion
There have been three ways that have been proposed to avoid having to accept the conclusion.
One might argue that propositions are not true in advance of the events described. Propositions 'become' true when the events described occur.
Objections to Proposal One:
(1) When did it 'become true' that Bush won the 1988 election? When the votes were counted? When it was clear that he would win? When 'the deciding vote' was cast? (2) When did Germany lose World War Two? When the Allies' invasion force landed on the beaches of Normandy? When the British invented and were able to use radar against the German Luftwaffe? When Alan Turing and his team broke the German secret code? When ...? (3) Is it not true now
that tomorrow copper will conduct electricity?
The questions in the preceding paragraph strongly suggest that it will prove problematic in the extreme to try to put precise times on the (supposed) occurrence of a proposition's 'becoming true'. Moreover, propositions, you'll recall, are supposed to be abstract entities, entities which do not exist in space and time; but if they do not exist in time, how can their properties change at some particular time?
Another Objection to Proposal One:
To argue that propositions about the future acquire a truth-value only when the described event occurs (i.e. in the future) will entail abandoning the law of the excluded middle: propositions about the future will not, then, have truth-values now
, i.e. prior to the occurrence of the predicted event. Adopting Proposal One would require our creating a far more complicated logic. This is not to say that this proposed solution is completely without merit; but it is to say that we ought to try to find some other solution before resorting to such a major revision of logic.
What other ways might one, then, propose to avoid the conclusion of the argument about tomorrow's sea battle?
Disjunctions (i.e. statements of the form "P or Q" [in this particular case "A wins or A does not win"] are true, but not the individual disjuncts (components, i.e. "A wins"; "A does not win").
Objection to Proposal Two:
The proposal is terribly peculiar. We are inclined to say that a disjunction is true just because (at least) one of its disjuncts is true. If neither P nor Q is true, how can "P or Q" be true? And, further, just as in the previous case, this Proposal also entails abandoning the law of the excluded middle: while "A wins or A does not win" has a truth-value now, neither of the two propositions "A wins" and "A does not win" has a truth-value. So, once again, we would prefer a less radical solution.
The truth of propositions does not 'make' events happen (occur).
Consider I m watching Olympics at this very moment [Aug 22] is what makes (the proposition expressed by) "Etinder is watchind Olympics on Aug 22, 2004, 1997" true
. It is not the other way round. Logical fatalism confuses the semantic (truth-making) order. It makes it appear that the truth of a proposition 'causes' an event to occur. It is, rather, that the event's occurring tomorrow 'makes' (but does not cause) the proposition to be true today. This is not 'backwards causation': the relation between an event and the truth of the proposition describing that event is not a causal relation whatever. It is a semantic relation.
The logic of the preceding paragraph can perhaps be made apparent by switching the example to one of speaking about the past rather than the future.
Indira Gandhi was killed in 1984 and there is a group of 5 people arguing abt the year of her death A says 1982, B says 1984, C 1985, D 1983 and E 1980 so among all of them only B is right. Of all these 5 claims only one claims and thats by B is true and rest are false
Now ask yourself: Does B's making a true claim today (about the year of Gandhi's death) account for Gandhi's killing? Did B's asserting a truth today about Gandhi's killing somehow or other 'force' Beant Singh and Satwant Singh to fire bullets into Indira Gandhi? Of course not. Now what if the year of the discussion were 1975? A says, "Gandhi will be killed in 1982." B says that it will happen in 1984. C, that it will happen in 1985. D, that it will happen in 1983. E, that it will happen in 1980. Of the five discussants, one, namely B, gets it 'right'; the other four make false predictions. Does B's true prediction (in 1975) somehow or other 'force' Beant Singh and Satwant Singh to fire bullets into Indira Gandhi? Of course not.
Similarly you and I can make all sorts of predictions -- some true, some false, some on the basis of excellent evidence -- but those that are true do not 'force' the predicted events to occur.
The future will be just what it is going to be. None of us can change the future. But that does not mean that we do not have free will.
change the future - by anything I have done, am doing, or will do - from what it is going to be
. But I can
change the future from what it might have been
. I may carefully consider the appearance of my garden, and after a bit of thought, mulling over a few alternatives, I decide to cut down the apple tree. By so doing, I change the future from what it might have been. But I do not change it from what it will be. Indeed, by my doing what I do, I - in small measure - contribute to making the future the very way it will be.
Similarly, I cannot change the present from the way it is. I can only change the present from the way it might have been, from the way it would have been were I not doing what I am doing right now. And finally, I cannot change the past from the way it was. In the past, I changed it from what it might have been, from what it would have been had I not done what I did.
We can change the world from what it might have been; but in doing that we contribute to making the world the way it was
, and will be
. We cannot - on pain of logical contradiction - change the world from the way it was, is, or will be.
all comments welcome