The Modal Future: A Theory of Future-Directed Thought and Talk

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2022.11.04 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews

Fabrizio Cariani, The Modal Future: A Theory of Future-Directed Thought and Talk, Cambridge University Press, 2021, 292pp., $99.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781108474771.

Reviewed by Malte Willer, University of Chicago

The question of how to interpret statements about the future has been a recurrent theme in the philosophical literature ever since Aristotle’s discussion of future contingents in De Interpretatione. Of critical importance here—at least as far as the more recent literature is concerned—is how we should think about the semantic contribution of future auxiliaries such as the English ‘will’ and ‘going to’: are they best understood as temporal operators (such as the English ‘did’) or do they rather function like modal auxiliaries such as the English ‘might’ and ‘must’? Fabrizio Cariani’s book is a sophisticated plea for the modal future hypothesis, which sorts talk about the future as modal talk.[1] Its first three parts offer a detailed modal semantic…

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