A comparison between relativism and context-shifting semantics for future contingents


Francesco Gallina (University of Padua)


John MacFarlane (2003, 2008, and 2014) elaborates a semantics for future contingents – the so-called relativism – in order to capture the two following intuitions. The first one is the indeterminacy intuition: if on Monday it is neither impossible nor unpreventable that there will be a sea battle on the next day, “There will be a sea battle tomorrow” seems to be neither true nor false from Monday’s ‘perspective’. The second one is the determinacy intuition, which suggests that if the sea battle takes place on Tuesday, “There will be a sea battle tomorrow”, used on Monday, is true from Tuesday’s ‘perspective’. This paper presents an alternative characterization of relativism, namely the context-shifting semantics. The latter framework captures both the determinacy intuition and the indeterminacy intuition, and it is identical to relativism up to some technicalities that will be studied in detail. Moreover, since both relativism and the context-shifting semantics modify the truth-at-a-context approach put forward by Kaplan, it will be shown how the two frameworks modify some of the kaplanian principles. 8

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