The goal of this project is to develop a formal framework for reasoning about processes, as a contribution to modal-temporal logic, process ontology, formal semantics, and AI. The core metaphysical idea is this: the world is constantly changing – it is full of happenings and doings –, and the future is open. Even though this idea meshes very well with our common-sense reasoning about the world, an entirely static – pointillistic – picture of reality has established itself as the standard theoretical account. On that picture, the world is but a sequence of static states, and change is nothing over and above an object having different properties at different times. While the static idea fits well with our mathematical description of the world, it does not square with our intuitions about time, change, and agency. The last decades have thus witnessed a growing interest in a dynamic world view, and theories building on genuine dynamic entities, such as processes, dispositions, or powers, are on the rise. Despite the increasing interest in a dynamic conception of reality, the formal foundations of such views are notoriously under-investigated. The present project aims to fill in this lacuna: building on previous work by the ER, the project will propose a formal account of processes as genuinely dynamic entities and implement that account in a branching time logic. In developing a dynamic account of processes and their modal-temporal properties, the project will draw on discussions in the metaphysics of time and modality in order to arrive at a formal framework that is philosophically well-informed. Vice versa, making the ideas formally precise will help to clarify fundamental metaphysical questions. But the prospects of the project go far beyond philosophy: a rigorous formal account of processes will also prove fruitful in the study of tense and aspect in linguistics, and it opens up the possibility for implementation in AI and social robotics.
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