Fatalism and the Future

Craig Bourne

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Time

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199298204
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191728372 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Fatalism and the Future

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  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic


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If the future is real, and the outcomes of chancy processes are “already” occurrent, then in what sense is the chancy process genuinely chancy? This topic is the fatalism issue. Discussed by Aristotle more than two millennia ago, the question is whether various logical principles, when applied to propositions about future events, imply that the future is in some sense fixed. If the future is like the past, and the past is fixed, then are future events fixed in the same sense? This chapter gives the latest on this traditional topic, carefully surveying various works and trying a new tack that steers away from fatalism. It concludes that it is difficult to find ways to rule out causal loops, and gives an account of the direction of causation.

Keywords: fatalism; Aristotle; future events; causal loops; chances

Article.  13965 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics ; Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic

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