Fabrizio CarianiNov 10, 2023
The Modal Future
A Theory of Future-Directed Thought and Talk
Cambridge University Press 2021
What does “will” mean? A standard view is that it is a tensed mirror-image of “was”, and that the truth-conditions of past and future sentences – “He was late to the event”, “He will be late to the event” – are symmetric. In The Modal Future: A Theory of Future-Directed Thought and Talk (Cambridge UP, 2021), Fabrizio Cariani argues against this tense-based view in favor of an asymmetric semantics in which “will” has more in common with “would” and other modal terms, and in which future-directed discourse is close kin to counterfactual discourse, not past discourse. Cariani, who is professor of philosophy at the University of Maryland at College Park, defends an extended version of Stalnaker’s selectionist semantics to explain the semantics of “will”, and considers how his view intersects with issues in speech act theory, the metaphysics of time, and the possibility of knowledge about the future.
Carrie Figdor is professor of philosophy at the University of Iowa.