Wondering about the Future

Stephan Torre* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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Will it rain tomorrow? Will there be a sea battle tomorrow? Will my death be painful? Wondering about the future plays a central role in our cognitive lives. It is integral to our inquiries, our planning, our hopes, and our fears. The aim of this paper is to consider various accounts of future contingents and the implications that they have for wondering about the future. I argue that reflecting on the nature of wondering about the future supports an Ockhamist account of future contingents according to which many of them are true. Alternative accounts which maintain that no future contingents are true, either by claiming that they are all false or by claiming that they are neither true nor false, face difficulties concerning why it is appropriate to wonder about them. Reflecting on wondering in general, and wondering about the future in particular, suggests that in wondering how the future will go, we implicitly assume that there is a determinate fact of the matter. After presenting an attractive account of interrogative attitudes that has been recently proposed by Jane Friedman and outlining some norms governing wondering, I argue that all accounts of future contingents except Ockhamism face difficulties concerning why it is appropriate to wonder about them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2449–2473
Number of pages25
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Early online date31 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Open Access via the Springer Compact Agreement
Acknowledgements I would like to thank Phillip Bricker, Jane Friedman, Andrea Iacona, Uri Leibowitz, Paula Sweeney, Patrick Todd, Brandt van der Gaast, Clas Weber, the audience of the Stirling Philosophy Visiting Speaker Seminar, and the Aberdeen Philosophy Work-in-Progress group for very helpful discussion and feedback on earlier drafts. Additionally, the comments from the two anonymous referees for this journal were very helpful and substantially improved this paper.


  • Wondering
  • Future contingents
  • Ockhamism


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