Date of Award

May 2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Joshua Spencer

Committee Members

Michael Liston, Nataliya Palatnik


It is highly intuitive that the future is open in the sense that there are multiple possibilities for the future to obtain and we can determine how tomorrow is. For instance, it is possible that I will eat salad for lunch tomorrow, but it is also possible that I will eat food other than salad for lunch tomorrow. Suppose I eat salad finally. However, an argument of fatalism shows that the future is closed in the sense of being determined to be a certain way, and that whatever I do now, my eating salad tomorrow is inevitable. Fatalism calls into question the open future thesis, challenging theories of free will and moral responsibility. As the fatalist argument relies on the principle of bivalence, some proponents of the open future thesis refute fatalism by rejecting bivalence. In this paper, I argue that we need not reject bivalence to defend the open future thesis because bivalence is not sufficient evidence for fatalism, and another premise of the fatalist argument is problematic. I will show that bivalence is a neutral concept applicable to both theories of the future and does not commit us to fatalism. My argument does not privilege one theory over another. Instead, it simply elucidates the relationships between bivalence, the open future thesis, and fatalism. All of my work is based on the divergence between Markosian and Barnes and Cameron.In Section 1, I introduce the debate between fatalism and the open future thesis before detailing the traditional bivalence-based fatalist argument and demonstrating the centrality of bivalence to the debate in Section 2. In Section 3, I introduce some responses to fatalism, arguing that they are all flawed, which leads to my proposal, in Section 4, that the fatalist argument looks convincing because theorists do not recognize or understand the multiple significations of the term “future.” I then distinguish two distinct uses of “future” (real future and relative future) thereby disconnecting fatalism from bivalence and rendering bivalence compatible with the open future thesis. Finally, in Section 5, I take a broad view to conclude my proposal.

Included in

Metaphysics Commons