The Open Future



It will be recalled that the A-Theory held temporal becoming to be an objective property of events and claimed that because of this the past and future differ ontologically, the future being open and the past closed. Since past events have become present they have already won their ontological diplomas, unlike future events, which still exist in a limbo of mere possibility. Our ordinary concept of time contains this view, as witnessed by such gems as “Don’t cry over spilt milk” and “What has been done cannot be undone.” This common-sense distinction between the open future and the closed past can best be clarified by reference to certain logical asymmetries in our ordinary ways of talking about the past and the future: it is meaningful to speak of causing, deciding, and deliberating about a future, but not a past event; while, on the other hand, it makes sense to speak of having a trace (such as a memory or a photograph) of a past, but not a future event.


Open Future Definite Description Subject Term Causal Belief Singular Proposition 
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© Richard M. Gale 1968

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