Medieval Commentators on Future Contingents in De Interpretatione 9
This article considers three medieval approaches to the problem of future contingent propositions in chapter 9 of Aristotle’s De Interpretatione. While Boethius assumed that God’s atemporal knowledge infallibly pertains to historical events, he was inclined to believe that Aristotle correctly taught that future contingent propositions are not antecedently true or false, even though they may be characterized as true-or-false. Aquinas also tried to combine the allegedly Aristotelian view of the disjunctive truth-value of future contingent propositions with the conception of all things being timelessly present to God’s knowledge. The second approach was formulated by Peter Abelard who argued that in Aristotle’s view future contingent propositions are true or false, not merely true-or-false, and that the antecedent truth of future propositions does not necessitate things in the world. After Duns Scotus, many late medieval thinkers thought like Abelard, particularly because of their new interpretation of contingency, but they did not believe, with the exception of John Buridan, that this was an Aristotelian view.
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