Alternatives to histories? Employing a local notion of modal consistency in branching theories

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Müller, Thomas
preprint description
Branching theories are popular frameworks for modeling objective indeterminism in the form of a future of open possibilities. In such theories, the notion of a history plays a crucial role: it is both a basic ingredient in the axiomatic definition of the framework, and it is used as a parameter of truth in semantics for languages with a future tense. Furthermore, histories--complete possible courses of events--ground the notion of modal consistency: a set of events is modally consistent iff there is a history containing that set. We will explain these roles of histories and highlight some critical aspects having to do with the fact that histories are global and, in a relevant sense, "big" objects. The notion of modal consistency, on the other hand, has both local and global aspects. We ask in how far a local notion of modal consistency can serve as an alternative to the common uses of histories, and work out two recent approaches to alternatives to histories. Combining these approaches, we develop a novel semantics for branching time.