SOPhiA 2019

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Branching what ...? -- the ontology of branching time
(Metaphysics and Ontology, English)

In the last couple of years branching time (BT) has become quite popular formalism that allows to describe the nature of world as containing plenty of possibilities. However, even many years after famous Saul Kripke's letter, philosophers still seem to have no clue what is the ontology of branching time trees -- in particular what really branches.

The name of this formalism suggests that this is time, however a quick analysis reveals numerous problems of such approach. Another notion might be to think that this is rather spacetime that branches in BT. Such suggestion leads us to a similar formalism called branching space-time (BST), formulated in 1992 by Nuel Belnap. The last idea that may be found in the literature is that branching time is in fact about histories, as it was suggested by some of polish philosophers who translated BT into their native language as "branching histories".

In my talk I will describe and consider consequences of accepting each of theoptions mentioned earlier: time, spacetimes and histories, as well as some other, for example possibilities. As it would turn out, the best conception is to follow the view that these are histories that branches.

Histories in the branching time formalism are usually defined in the framework of formalism and semantics: as the longest chains of the partial-orderings (trees). I will explore this notion and provide connected with it non-formal definition of history supported by numerous examples and ontological arguments. This definition will be compared with corresponding conceptions in models similar to branching time: for example standard possible worlds. Such analysis will lead to confrontation with ontological problems, such as persistence in time, personal identity or the problem of counterparts. They will be explored in the light of the view that what really branch are histories.

Such analysis will be a step on a path of clarifying the idea of branching time models. This issue of ontology of branching spacetime has not yet been widely discussed.

Chair: Alexander Michael Witkamp
Time: 17:00-17:30, 18 September 2019 (Wednesday)
Location: SR 1.003

Marta Emilia Bielinska 
(Jagiellonian University, Poland)

Marta Emilia Bielinska is a master student of Philosophy in the framework of Individual Inter-faculty Studies in the Humanities and Physics as a part of Studies in Mathematics and Sciences at Jagiellonian University in Poland. She is mainly interested in Philosophy of Space and Time: the problems of orientation and orientability of spacetime, and the formalism of branching time.

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