Does knowledge of the past and present determine the future?

Aristotle formulated the openness of the future in the language of logic. Living in Athens at a time when invasion from the sea was always a possibility, he made his argument using the following sentence: ‘There will be a sea-battle tomorrow.’ One of the classical laws of logic is the ‘law of the excluded middle’ which states that every sentence is either true or false: either the sentence is true or its negation is true. But Aristotle argued that neither ‘There will be a sea-battle tomorrow’ nor ‘There will not be a sea-battle tomorrow’ is definitely true, for both possibilities lead to fatalism; if the first statement is true, for example, there would be nothing anybody could do to avert the sea-battle. Therefore, these statements belong to a third logical category, neither true nor false. In modern times, this conclusion has been realised in the development of many-valued logic.

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