Chapter 9: The Third Exception to RCP; Future Singular Assertions

C. W. A. Whitaker

in Aristotle's De Interpretatione

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780199254194
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598654 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Aristotle Studies

Chapter 9: The Third Exception to RCP; Future Singular Assertions

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The third class of exceptions introduces the famous Sea‐battle paradox, which is normally studied in isolation from the rest of the treatise. By approaching this chapter in its context, however, a new understanding of it emerges. If RCP is upheld for future contingents, Aristotle argues, then there are true statements about undecided future events, and (as a consequence of his definition of truth) if statements about the future are already true, then things will necessarily be the way the statements say they will be. Fatalism thus results. Nothing is gained by claiming predictions are not true, he says (for in this case there would be no future at all). A subtle solution is adopted, which involves acknowledging RCP but modifying it: one member of a pair of future singular assertions is true and the other false, but it is not settled in advance which is which. This chapter does not involve, as has been supposed, a modification of the Principle of Bivalence, which lays down that every assertion is either true or false.

Keywords: Aristotle; bivalence; contingent; De Interpretatione; fatalism; future; Sea‐battle paradox; truth

Chapter.  10246 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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