Financial Mathematics Text

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Relationship Between Excluded Middle and Eternalism

Committing oneself to the principle of excluded middle (universally) suggests that statements of the following sort must either be true:

"Tomorrow it will rain or not rain."
"I will die in the year 2021 or I will not die in the year 2021."
"The Mets will win the 2009 World Series or the Mets will not win the 2009 World Series."

My ability to make these claims rests on the principle of excluded middle which states for any proposition P either P is true or ¬P is true. It seems as though to commit to the excluded middle is to commit to a view on the future which suggests it's decided in some sense. This view is commonly referred to as "eternalism" which views the future just as fixed as the past. It's not a difficult view to comprehend. If we think of time as being analogous to a spatial dimension then it's no different than viewing different points of space as being fixed and decided. Of course we can always ask whether or not the past and present are really as decided as "common sense" might tell us but that would only be a greater cause for concern. It appears that one who is committed to the universal applicability of excluded middle would either have to contend that statements about the future are not propositions so excluded middle does not apply or to commit to an eternalist view with respect to time.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Some common OpenID URLs (no change to URL required):