BH-CIFOL: Case-intensional first order logic. (II) Branching histories

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Belnap, Nuel; Müller, Thomas
preprint description
This paper follows Part I of our essay on case-intensional first-order logic (CIFOL; Belnap and Müller 2013). We introduce a framework of branching histories to take account of indeterminism. Our system BH-CIFOL adds structure to the cases, which in Part I formed just a set: a case in BH-CIFOL is a moment/history pair, specifying both an element of a partial ordering of moments and one of the total courses of events (extending all the way into the future) that that moment is part of. This framework allows us to define the familiar Ockhamist temporal/modal connectives, most notably for past, future, and settledness. The novelty of our framework becomes visible in our discussion of substances in branching histories, i.e., in its first-order part. That discussion shows how the basic idea of tracing an individual thing from case to case via an absolute property is applicable in a branching histories framework. We stress the importance of keeping apart extensionality and moment-definiteness, and give a formal account of how the specification of natural sortals and natural qualities turns out to be a coordination task in BH-CIFOL. We also provide a detailed answer to Lewis’s well-known argument against branching histories, exposing the fallacy in that argument.