CFP: Synthese Topical Collection: Temporal Reasoning and Tensed Truths

Submission deadline: February 28, 2023

Topic areas


Call for Papers:

Synthese Topical Collection: Temporal Reasoning and Tensed Truths

Guest Editors:

Vincent Grandjean, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom

Matteo Pascucci, Institute of Philosophy, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovak Republic

Topical Collection Description:

This topical collection is dedicated to the formal representation of arguments involving temporal reasoning and tensed truths; in particular, arguments with a clear significance to everyday life. In a broad perspective, temporal reasoning can be rigorously encoded via intensional logic, treating tenses as modalities, or via extensional logic, quantifying over domains of temporal objects (e.g., instants, intervals, etc.). Nowadays there are several formal devices (languages, systems, semantics, etc.) able to deal with time in many regards. Each of these devices is characterized by peculiar features, such as a certain choice of primitive notions and, arguably, a certain kind of ontological commitment (see, e.g., the surveys of approaches offered by Prior 1967, van Benthem 1983, Gabbay, Hodkinson & Reynolds 1994 and Øhrstrøm & Hasle 1995). The truth-conditions of (the propositions expressed by) statements involving tenses can be explained either in terms of the “past-present-future” opposition (McTaggart’s A-theory) or in terms of the “earlier-later” opposition (McTaggart’s B-theory). Moreover, taking into account the difference between chronologically definite propositions and chronologically indefinite propositions (Rescher 1966), it is possible to distinguish between atemporal and temporal (or tensed) notions of truth. This topical collection will primarily focus on the latter.

It is often argued that tensed truths do not float free, but are grounded in reality. Accordingly, the present truth of (the proposition expressed by) a statement such as ‘Napoleon lost at Waterloo’, requires it to be grounded in what there is and how it is. However, this view has undesirable consequences. First, it seems to force one to adopt an eternalist ontology: assuming that past- and future-tensed statements are not exceptions to the principle of bivalence (which states that all declarative sentences express propositions that are either true or false), there must be things located in the past and the future of the moment of evaluation that provide grounds for their classical truth-values. Secondly, it seems to threaten the openness of the future: assuming that the truth-value of a future-tensed statement, such as ‘The first human on Mars will be a woman’, is grounded in what there is and how it is, it seems that everything regarding the exploration of Mars is already settled.

Many options have been envisaged to avoid these undesirable consequences. One option is denying that future-tensed statements are bivalent (Broad 1923, Markosian 1995). However, this view is subject to criticism too since (i) it conflicts with retrospective evaluations of future-tensed statements (Besson & Hattiangadi 2013, MacFarlane 2003, 2008), and (ii) it is not clear what semantics one ought to assume when modeling truth-value gaps. A second option is to argue that the bivalence of past- and future-tensed statements is compatible with non-eternalist ontologies and/or with an open future. This option comes in various flavors: Todd (2016) argues that future-tensed statements are all false; Barnes & Cameron (2009, 2011) say that although future-tensed statements are bivalent, the truth-value of some of these is unsettled; Correia & Rosenkranz (2018) assert that the grounding requirement on tensed truths must be weakened, so that it allows the present truth-values of some future-tensed statements to be grounded in how, at some future time, things will be; etc. Thus, the problem of finding an appropriate way of formally representing arguments involving tensed truths is still a source of intense debate.

E. Barnes and R. Cameron, 2009. ‘The Open Future: Bivalence, Determinism and Ontology’, in Philosophical Studies. Vol. 146, pp. 291-309.
E. Barnes and R. Cameron, 2011. ‘Back to the Open Future’, in Philosophical Perspectives. Vol. 25, pp. 1-26.
C. Besson and A. Hattiangadi, 2013. ‘The Open Future, Bivalence and Assertion’, in Philosophical Studies. Vol. 167, pp. 251-271.
R. Cameron, 2015. The Moving Spotlight. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
F. Correia and A. Iacona (eds.), 2013. Around the Tree: Semantic and Metaphysical Issues Concerning Branching and the Open Future. Dordrecht: Springer.
F. Correia and S. Rosenkranz, 2018. Nothing to Come: A Defense of the Growing Block Theory of Time. Berlin: Springer.
D.M. Gabbay, I. Hodkinson and M. Reynolds, 1994. Temporal Logic: Mathematical Foundations and Computational Aspects (Volume 1), Oxford: Clarendon Press.
J. MacFarlane, 2003. ‘Future Contingents and Relative Truth’, in The Philosophical Quarterly. Vol. 53, pp. 322-336.
J. MacFarlane, 2008. ‘Truth in the Garden of Forking Paths’, in Relative Truth. M. Garcia-Carpintero and M. Kölbel (eds.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 81-102.
P. Øhrstrøm, 2019, ‘A critical discussion of Prior’s philosophical and tense-logical analysis of the ideas of indeterminism and human freedom’, in Synthese. Vol. 196, pp. 69-85.
P. Øhrstrøm and P. Hasle, 1995, Temporal Logic: From Ancient Ideas to Artificial Intelligence, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
P. Øhrstrøm and P. Hasle, 2020, ‘Future Contingents’, in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. E. Zalta (ed.), URL:
A.N. Prior, 1967. Past, Present and Future. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
N. Rescher, 1966. ‘On the Logic of Chronological Propositions’, in Mind Vol. 75, pp. 75–96.
P. Todd, 2016. ‘Future Contingents are all False! On Behalf of a Russellian Open Future’, in Mind. Vol. 125, pp. 775-798.
J. van Benthem, 1983. The Logic of Time, Dordrecht, Boston, and London: Kluwer Academic Publishers. [Second edition: 1991.]

Appropriate Topics for Submission include, among others:

Formal accounts of tensed truths

Grounds for tensed truths

Logics for chronologically definite and indefinite propositions

Reasoning problems involving time

Temporal vs atemporal notions of truth

Truth-value of tensed statements

The unrestricted application of bivalence

The absoluteness of utterance-truth

The problem of future contingents

Truthmakers for tensed truths

For further information, please contact the guest editors: 

[email protected]
[email protected]

The deadline for submissions is:

December 31, 2022

Submissions via: (T.C. : Temporal reasoning and tensed truths)


Vincent Grandjean, Postdoctoral researcher, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford, United Kingdom. Email: [email protected].

Matteo Pascucci, Postdoctoral researcher, Institute of Philosophy, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Slovak Republic. Email address: [email protected].

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#Synthese Topical Collection, #Temporal Reasoning, #Tensed Truths