Source: Benatar, D. The Human Predicament (2017 1 edn). p. 235, for p. 114 Footnote 30.

  1. I add this qualification because some people may think that unless determinism is true, [1.] future events cannot have a truth value until they occur. [2.] Others, however, think that even if the future is not fixed, it is always the case that what will in fact happen will happen, even though what happens was not determined and could not have been known in advance.

  2. I say “according to some views” because some might deny that it can be true until the truth-making conditions actually occur.

Is there a term that describes:

  1. 1 overhead?

  2. 2? Is it Compatibilism?

  1. 'statements about future events can't have a truth value until they occur'

  2. 'what'll happen will happen'

Presentism best describes your first statement; and your second statement appears to be, not a form of fatalism but a tautology.


Presentism is the view that only the present is real. Contrast this doctrine with eternalism, the view that past and future times are just as real as the present time. Or, past or future individuals are just as real as present individuals. They just happen to exist prior to the present, or after the present. One might compare presentism with actualism in the metaphysics of modality. Actualism is the view that the actual world enjoys a special ontological status over other worlds, if other worlds there be. Only the actual world is instantiated, or in some sense real. The presentist wants to say the same thing about times: Only the present time is real, and the present time enjoys a special ontological status over other times, if other times there are. (Matthew Davidson, 'Presentism and the Non-Present', Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition, Vol. 113, No. 1 (Mar., 2003), pp. 77-92 : 77.)

On a presentist approach, no statement about the future can be true because there is nothing it can be true of - or false about. If the future (like the past) is non-existent then it contains no truth-makers (events, states of affairs) that could make any present truth-bearer (a sentence, statement or proposition) true.

This supports : 'statements about future events can't have a truth value until they occur'.


'What will happen will happen'

I take this to be a tautology. It is true by virtue of its logical form irrespective of its content.

This is not fatalism. Fatalism can take many forms. One of these is logical fatalism, which can be introduced roughly as follows. Note that the argument does not assume presentism.

Logical fatalism

Consider the following argument: first, assume that it is presently t2, and that the past tense proposition, 'At t1 it was the case that at t3 Susan will go to Anstruther', is true. Since this proposition is about the past, and since the past is necessary (given that it is impossible for any true proposition about the past to be false henceforth), the proposition is necessary as well. But the proposition also entails the truth of the future tense proposition, 'Susan will go to Anstruther at t3', in which case the latter proposition is also necessary. Therefore, it is now necessary that Susan will go to Anstruther in the future, and thus she is not free to do as she wishes.

The preceding type of argument - call it the argument from temporal necessity (or Type I) is often thought to pose a real threat to the non-fixity of the future. At least, it is meant to give us more cause for concern than the other most common logical fatalistic argument type the one from antecedent truth value (or Type II). Whereas Type I has it that past truth about the future fixes the future; Type II has it that present truth about the future fixes the future. So, according to the standard interpretation of Type II, the logical fatalist infers the necessity (at, say, t2) of 'Susan will go to Anstruther at t3', merely from the trivial necessity of the following conditional: 'If it is true, now, to say that Susan will go to Anstruther at t3, then Susan will, indeed, go to Anstruther at t3. But it is a notorious modal fallacy to infer p from (p ⊃ p), as this interpretation implies the fatalist has done. The Type I logical fatalist, however, infers p from (q ⊃ p) where q is a past tense proposition which entails the future tense proposition p. It is the concept of temporal necessity that allows the logical fatalist to make this valid modal inference. (Joseph Diekemper, 'Temporal Necessity and Logical Fatalism', Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, New Series, Vol. 104 (2004), pp. 289-296 : 289-90.)

Logical fatalism is not determinism

Logical fatalism depends purely on implications within tensed modal logic. Determinism depends on causation - here, on present conditions (events, states of affairs) being causally sufficient for future conditions. Causation is irrelevant to logical fatalism.

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