, Volume 58, Issue 3, pp 321–329 | Cite as

Aristotelian Diagrams in the Debate on Future Contingents

A Methodological Reflection on Hess's Open Future Square of Opposition
  • Lorenz DemeyEmail author


In the recent debate on future contingents and the nature of the future, authors such as G. A. Boyd, W. L. Craig, and E. Hess have made use of various logical notions, such as (the difference between) the Aristotelian relations of contradiction and contrariety, and the ‘open future square of opposition.’ My aim in this paper is not to enter into this philosophical debate itself, but rather to highlight, at a more abstract methodological level, the important role that Aristotelian diagrams (such as the open future square of opposition, but also others) can play in organizing and clarifying the debate. After providing a brief survey of the specific ways in which Boyd and Hess make use of Aristotelian relations and diagrams in the debate on the nature of the future, I argue that the position of open theism is best represented by means of a hexagon of opposition (rather than a square of opposition). Next, I show that on the classical theist account, this hexagon of opposition ‘collapses’ into a single pair of contradictory statements. This collapse from a hexagon into a pair has several aspects, which can all be seen as different manifestations of a single underlying change (viz., the move from a tripartition to a bipartition of logical space).


Open theism Future contingents Gregory Boyd Square of opposition Hexagon of opposition Aristotelian diagrams 



I would like to thank Hans Smessaert, Margaux Smets, and three anonymous reviewers for their valuable feedback on an earlier version of this paper. The research reported in this paper is financially supported through a Postdoctoral Fellowship of the Research Foundation–Flanders (FWO), and was partially carried out during research stays at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Oxford (Spring 2017) and at the Institut für Philosophie II of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (Summer 2017).


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.KU Leuven – Institute of PhilosophyLeuvenBelgium

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