Negative facts get a bad press. One reason for this is that it is not clear what negative facts are. We provide a theory of negative facts on which they are no stranger than positive atomic facts. We show that none of the usual arguments hold water against this account. Negative facts exist in the usual sense of existence and conform to an acceptable Eleatic principle. Furthermore, there are good reasons to want them around, including (...) their roles in causation, chance-making and truth-making, and in constituting holes and edges. (shrink)
It is commonly assumed that facts would be complex entities made out of particulars and universals. This thesis, which I call Compositionalism, holds that parthood may be construed broadly enough so that the relation that holds between a fact and the entities it ‘ties’ together counts as a kind of parthood. I argue firstly that Compositionalism is incompatible with the possibility of certain kinds of fact and universal, and, secondly, that such facts and universals are possible. I conclude (...) that Compositionalism is false. What all these kinds of fact and universal have in common is a violation of supplementation principles governing any relation that may be intelligibly regarded as a kind of parthood. Although my arguments apply to Compositionalism generally, I focus on recent work by David Armstrong, who is a prominent and explicit Compositionalist. (shrink)
This paper is about the relationship between two widely accepted and apparently conflicting claims about how we should understand the notion of ‘reason giving’ invoked in theorising about reasons for action. According to the first claim, reasons are given by facts about the situation of agents. According to the second claim, reasons are given by ends. I argue that the apparent conflict between these two claims is less deep than is generally recognised.
The notion that there is a single type of entity in terms of which the whole world can be described has fallen out of favor in recent Ontology. There are only two serious exceptions to this. Factualists (Skyrms 1981, Armstrong 1997) hold that the world can be fully described in terms of facts. Trope theorists (Williams 1953, Campbell 1981, 1990) hold that it can be fully described in terms of tropes. Yet the relationship between facts and tropes remains (...) obscure in both camps’ writings. In this note, a distinction between (the names of) events and facts, due to Vendler and Bennett, is extended to distinguish between (the names of) tropes and facts. On its basis, a portrait of the domain of abstract particulars is sketched. The purpose is to contribute to our understanding of both forms of (if you will) metaphysical monism by offering a principled distinction between them. (shrink)
Substantial metaphysical theory has long struggled with the question of negative facts, facts capable of making it true that Valerie isn’t vigorous. This paper argues that there is an elegant solution to these problems available to anyone who thinks that there are positive facts. Bradley’s regress and considerations of ontological parsimony show that an object’s having a property is an affair internal to the object and the property, just as numerical identity and distinctness are internal to the (...) entities that are numerically identical or distinct. For the same reasons, an object’s lacking a property must be an affair internal to the object and the property. Negative facts will thus be part of any ontology of positive facts. (shrink)
In the published version of Hugh Everett III’s doctoral dissertation, he inserted what has become a famous footnote, the ‘‘note added in proof’’. This footnote is often the strongest evidence given for any of various interpretations of Everett (the many worlds, many minds, many histories and many threads interpretations). In this paper I will propose a new interpretation of the footnote. One that is supported by evidence found in letters written to and by Everett; one that is suggested by a (...) new interpretation of Everett, an interpretation that takes seriously the central position of relative states in Everett’s pure wave mechanics: the relative facts interpretation. Of central interest in this paper is how to make sense of Everett’s claim in the ‘‘note added in proof’’ that ‘‘all elements of a superposition (all ‘‘branches’’) are ‘‘actual,’’ none any more ‘‘real’’ than the rest.’’. (shrink)
In The Construction of Social Reality (1995), John Searle develops a theory of institutional facts and objects, of which money, borders and property are presented as prime examples. These objects are the result of us collectively intending certain natural objects to have a certain status, i.e. to ‘count as’ being certain social objects. This view renders such objects irreducible to natural objects. In this paper we propose a radically different approach that is more compatible with standard economic theory. We (...) claim that such institutional objects can be fully understood in terms of actions and incentives, and hence the Searlean apparatus solves a non-existent problem. (shrink)
Keith Hossack argues in his The Metaphysics of Knowledge(2007) that knowledge is a simple and metaphysically fundamental relation between a thinker and a fact: knowledge is uptake of fact. Facts are conceived as combinations of particulars and universals, distinct from true propositions. Hossacks's general argument is, roughly, that one can define central philosophical concepts (belief, content, justification, etc.) if one assumes that knowledge is primitive, but that knowledge cannot be defined in terms of such concepts. In this paper, I (...) will question Hossack's view of knowledge and his use of knowledge in the theory of content. To anticipate one of the main points: there is knowledge that cannot be uptake of a fact, because there is no fact to be taken up. The conclusion is that Hossack needs either to revise his theory of facts or his metaphysics of knowledge. Something has to give. (shrink)
Frege begins his discussion of factives in 'On Sense and Reference' with an example of a purported contra-factive, i.e. a verb that entails the falsity of the complement sentence. But the verb he cites, 'waehnen', is now obsolete, and native speakers are sceptical about whether it really was a contra-factive. Despite the profusion of factive verbs, there are no clear examples of contra-factive propositional attitude verbs in English, French or German (or indeed any other Indo-European languages). This paper attempts to (...) give an explanation of why there are no contra-factives, and to use this to shed light on the behaviour of factives more generally. The suggestion is that factive propositional attitude verbs take facts, not propositions, as the referents of their complement sentences; and that as there are no contra-facts (merely false propositions), there can be no contra-factives. This claim is also used to help explain Timothy Williamson's observation that knowledge is the weakest stative propositional attitude factive.. Complexity amongst the factives is then explored. (shrink)
Substantial facts (or states of affairs ) are not well-understood entities. Many philosophers object to their existence on this basis. Yet facts, if they can be understood, promise to do a lot of philosophical work: they can be used to construct theories of property possession and truthmaking, for example. Here, I give a formal theory of facts, including negative and logically complex facts. I provide a theory of reduction similar to that of the typed λ -calculus (...) and use it to provide identity conditions for facts. This theory validates truthmaker maximalism : it provides truthmakers for all truths. I then show how the usual truth-in-a-model relation can be replaced by two relations: one between models and facts, saying that a given fact obtains relative to the model, and the other between facts and propositions: the truthmaking relation. (shrink)
Norms explained as grounds of practical judgment, using example of queue. Some norms informal, inexact, depend on common understanding (`conventions'); some articulated in context of two-tier normative order: `rules', explicit or implicit. Logical structure of rules displayed. Informal and formal normative order explained, `institutional facts' depend on acts and events interpreted in the light of normative order. Practical force of rules differentiated; either `absolute application' or `strict application' or `discretionary application', depending on second-tier empowerment. Discretion can be guided by (...) values, principles standards. Pervasiveness of institutions and institutional facts, especially but not only in relation to institutions of state-law, including constitution and state-institutions. Searle's and Ruiter's theories of institution, institutional fact, considered: `constitutive rule' rejected in favour of `underlying principle', structure of `institutive, consequential and terminative' rules explained and defended. Ruiter's conception of `institutional `régime' considered and adopted, validity of norms and normative `régimes' considered and differentiated from truth of statements of institutional fact. (shrink)
Mellor´s theory of causation has two components, one according to which causes raise their effects´ chances, and one according to which causation links facts. I argue that these two components are not independent from each other and, in particular, that Mellor´s thesis that causation links facts requires his thesis that causes raise their effects´ chances, since without the latter thesis Mellor cannot stop the slingshot argument, an argument that is a threat to any theory postulating facts as (...) the relata of causation. (shrink)
In order to account for the mode of existence of social rules and norms, the author develops a theory of the emergence of institutional facts. Just as other kinds of institutional fact, rules and norms are meanings. Therefore, insight into the emergence of social rules and norms can be achieved by studying the recognition and the communication of meanings. Following accounts of meaning and factuality, institutional facts are characterized as unquestionable shared typifications. It is argued that, in becoming (...) an institutional fact, a typification goes through two phases. First, it becomes a social habit. Second, this habit turns into an obligation by being objectified. (shrink)
Fulford has argued that (1) the medical concepts illness, disease and dysfunction are inescapably evaluative terms, (2) illness is conceptually prior to disease, and (3) a model conforming to (2) has greater explanatory power and practical utility than the conventional value-free medical model. This ‘reverse’ model employs Hare's distinction between description and evaluation, and the sliding relationship between descriptive and evaluative meaning. Fulford's derivative ‘Values Based Medicine’ (VBM) readjusts the imbalance between the predominance of facts over values in medicine. (...) VBM allegedly responds to the increased choices made available by, inter alia, the progress of medical science itself. VBM attributes appropriate status to evaluative meaning, where strong consensus about descriptive meaning is lacking. According to Fulford, quasi-legal bioethics, while it can be retained as a kind of deliberative framework, is outcome-based and pursues ‘the right answer’, while VBM approximates a democratic, process-oriented method for dealing with diverse values, in partnership with necessary contributions from evidence-based medicine (EBM). I support the non-cognitivist underpinnings of VBM, and its emphasis on the importance of values in medicine. But VBM overstates the complexity and diversity of values, misrepresents EBM and VBM as responses to scientific and evaluative complexity, and mistakenly depicts ‘quasi-legal bioethics’ as a space of settled descriptive meaning. Bioethical reasoning can expose strategies that attempt to reduce authentic values to scientific facts, illustrating that VBM provides no advantage over bioethics in delineating the connections between facts and values in medicine. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: 1. Travelling facts Mary S. Morgan; Part I. Matters of Fact: 2. Facts and building artefacts: what travels in material objects? Simona Valeriani; 3. A journey through times and cultures? Ancient Greek forms in American 19th century architecture: an archaeological view Lambert Schneider; 4. Manning's N: putting roughness to work Sarah J. Whatmore and Catharina Landström; 5. My facts are better than your facts: spreading good news about global warming Naomi Oreskes; 6. (...) Real problems with fictional cases Jon Adams; Part II. Integrity and Fruitfulness: 7. Ethology's travelling facts Richard Burkhardt; 8. Travelling facts about crowded rats: rodent experimentation and the human sciences Ed Ramsden; 9. Using cases to establish novel diagnoses: creating generic facts by making particular facts travel together Rachel Ankeny; 10. Technology transfer and travelling facts: a perspective from Indian agriculture Peter Howlett and Aashish Velkar; 11. Archaeological facts in transit: the eminent mounds of central North America Alison Wylie; Part III. Companionship and Character: 12. Packaging small facts for re-use: databases in model organism biology Sabina Leonelli; 13. Designed for travel: communicating facts through images Martina Merz; 14. Using models to keep us healthy: the productive journeys of facts across public health research networks Erika Mansnerus; 15. The facts of life and death: a case of exceptional longevity David Haycock; 16. Love life of a fact Heather Schell. (shrink)
In this paper, an account of two novel ontologies is given to point to the need to revise the status of facts in school curriculum. It is argued that schooling is in dire need of re-enchantment. The way to re-enchant schooling is to re-enliven the world we inhabit. We need to fall head over heels in love with the world again. In order to do that, we need to shake up our conception of “the hard and cold facts (...) of the world” to make the latter come alive radiating vibrancy and luminosity out into the world. Facts have to be liberated from their “cold and hard” status and become things that captivate us with their uniqueness and dynamism. To the extent that facts enchant (instead of merely re/present the world), working with them leads to educative experience. To work out how to let the facts do that, two thinkers and two ways to reconceptualize ‘facts’ are discussed: Graham Harman and his objects, and Ken Wilber and his holons. (shrink)
It is plausible that every true representation is made true by something in the world beyond itself. I believe that a simple fact is the truthmaker of each true proposition. Simple facts are not familiar entities. This lack of familiarity might lead many to regard them with suspicion, to think that including them in one’s ontology is an ad hoc maneuver. Although such suspicion is warranted initially, it is, I believe, ultimately unfounded. In this paper, I first present what (...) I take to be the simplest argument for simple facts. I then clarify what a simple fact is supposed to be by elucidating the way in which such entities are simple and elaborating an account of their nature. The simplest argument for simple facts relies on a premise that is deeply plausible and yet not uncontroversial, so I present a second argument that forgoes this premise. The second argument is more subtle—and shows the relevance to this discussion of unity from complexity, a metaphysical notion of profound importance—and yet leads to the same conclusion: simple facts exist. I end by considering some concerns one might have regarding the existence of simple facts or the fundamental role that I maintain they have in making true our thoughts and claims about the world. (shrink)
Donald Davidson argues that his interpretivist approach to meaning shows that accounting for the intentionality and objectivity of thought does not require an appeal, as John McDowell has urged it does, to a specifically rational relation between mind and world. Moreover, Davidson claims that the idea of such a relation is unintelligible. This paper takes issue with these claims. It shows, first, that interpretivism, contra Davidson's express view, does not depend essentially upon an appeal to a causal relation between events (...) in the world and speakers' beliefs. Second, it shows that interpretivism essentially, if implicitly, depends upon interpreters' appealing to facts taken in in perception, and that such facts are suited to provide a rational connection between mind and world. The paper then argues that none of Davidson's legitimate epistemological arguments tell against the idea that experience, in the form of the propositional contents of perception, can play a role in doxastic economy. Finally, it argues that granting experience such a role is consistent with Davidson's coherentist slogan that nothing can count as a reason for holding a belief except another belief. (shrink)
The Problem of Doxastic Shift may be stated as a dilemma: on the one hand, the distribution of nominal complements of the form `the that p strongly suggests that `that-clauses cannot be univocally assigned propositionaldenotations; on the other hand, facts about quantification strongly suggest that `that-clauses must be assigned univocal denotations. I argue that the Problem may be solved by defining the extension of a proposition to be a set of facts or, more generally, conditions. Given this, the (...) logical operation of descriptive predication can be introduced in a way that resolves the dilemma withoutsacrificing the singular term analysis of `that-clauses. (shrink)
Much moral skepticism stems from the charge that moral facts do not figure in causal explanations. However, philosophers committed to normative epistemological discourse (by which I mean our practice of evaluating beliefs as justified or unjustified, and so forth) are in no position to demand that normative facts serve such a role, since epistemic facts are causally impotent as well. I argue instead that pragmatic reasons can justify our continued participation in practices which, like morality and epistemology, (...) do not serve the function of causal explanation. Finally, I defend this pragmatic justification of morality and epistemology against a number of objections, including the objection that it confuses practical and theoretical justification. (shrink)
What is the ontological status of facts? Are facts linguistic or extra-linguistic entities? If facts are extra-linguistic entities, are they mind-independent or relative to languages, theories or conceptual schemes? Based on a minimal definition of facts, the author argues that what are specified by true statements are not identical to true propositions expressed, so facts are not linguistic entities. Furthermore, what are specified by true statements are not to which a true statement corresponds, so (...) class='Hi'>facts are not mind-independent, either as concrete entities in the universe or as abstract entities in the world as it is. Last, the author presents an internal factual realist answer: although facts are neither in the world as it is, nor in a language, facts are real and exist in a world under consideration. A fact, as a non-linguistic correlate of a true statement of a language, exists in a world specified by the language. (shrink)
In our everyday lives we struggle with the notions of why we do what we do and the need to assign values to our actions. Somehow, it seems possible through experience and life to gain knowledge and understanding of such matters. Yet once we start delving deeper into the concepts that underwrite these domains of thought and actions, we face a philosophical disappointment. In contrast to the world of facts, values and morality seem insecure, uncomfortably situated, easily influenced by (...) illusion or ideology. How can we apply this same objectivity and accuracy to the spheres of value and morality? In the essays included in this collection, Peter Railton shows how a fairly sober, naturalistically informed view of the world might nonetheless incorporate objective values and moral knowledge. This book will be of interest to professionals and students working in philosophy and ethics. (shrink)
The Queen's College, Oxford, UK In his article `Facts and Principles', G.A. Cohen attempts to refute constructivist approaches to justification by showing that, contrary to what their proponents claim, fundamental normative principles are fact- in sensitive. We argue that Cohen's `fact-insensitivity thesis' does not provide a successful refutation of constructivism because it pertains to an area of meta-ethics which differs from the one tackled by constructivists. While Cohen's thesis concerns the logical structure of normative principles, constructivists ask how normative (...) principles should be justified . In particular, their claim that justified fundamental normative principles are fact-sensitive follows from a commitment to agnosticism about the existence of objective moral facts. We therefore conclude that, in order to refute constructivism, Cohen would have to address questions of justification, and take a stand on those long-standing meta-ethical debates about the ontological status of moral notions (for example, realism versus anti-realism) with respect to which he himself wants to remain agnostic. Key Words: John Rawls normative justification realism versus anti-realism methodological versus substantive principles. (shrink)
In conclusion, then, the notion of temporal necessity is certainly queer and perhaps a misnomer. It really has little to do with temporality per se and everything to do with counterfactual openness or closedness. We have seen that the future is as unalterable as the past, but that this purely logical truth is not antithetical to freedom or contingency. Moreover, we have found certain past facts are counterfactually open in that were future events or actualities to be other than (...) they will be, these past facts would have been different as a consequence. God's beliefs about the future are such past facts. Moreover, the effects of actions which God would have taken had He believed differently are also such past facts. Oddly enough, then, virtually any past fact is potentially counterfactually open, and the only necessity that remains is purely de facto. We, of course, do not in general know which events of the past depend counterfactually on present actions, and those cases we do know about seem rather trivial. Our intuitions of the necessity, unalterability, and unpreventability of the past as opposed to the future stem from the impossibility of backward causation, which is precluded by the dynamic nature of time and becoming. But the counterfactual dependence of God's beliefs on future events or actualities is not a case of backward causation: rather future-tense propositions are true in virtue of what will happen, given a view of truth as correspondence, and God simply has the essential property of knowing all and only true propositions. With regard to the future, virtually all facts are counterfactually open, and therefore future-tense propositions are not temporally necessary. Propositions thus move from being temporally contingent to being temporally necessary when all the opportunities to affect things counterfactually have slipped by. Hence, the mere fact that an event is past is no indication that it is counterfactually closed. This is especially evident in the case of God's foreknowledge. If we say that God foreknows that I shall do x and therefore I cannot refrain from doing x, lest I change God's past foreknowledge, we are being deceived by a modality which has nothing to do with my power or freedom. All that is impossible is the conjunction of God's foreknowledge that p and of ~ p; but this modality in sensu composito has no bearing on my ability to act such that ~ p would be true and God would have foreknown differently. Temporal necessity, then, turns out to be only obliquely temporal and modally weak, certainly no threat to freedom or divine foreknowledge. (shrink)
This book is a collection of materials concerned not only with the law of evidence, but also with the logical and rhetorical aspects of proof; the epistemology of evidence as a basis for the proof of disputed facts; and scientific aspects of the subject. The editor also raises issues such as the philosophical basis for the use of evidence.
An important theme running through D.H. Mellor’s work is his realism, or as I shall call it, his objectivism: the idea that reality as such is how it is, regardless of the way we represent it, and that philosophical error often arises from confusing aspects of our subjective representation of the world with aspects of the world itself. Thus central to Mellor’s work on time has been the claim that the temporal A-series (...) class='Hi'>(previously called ‘tense’) is unreal while the B-series (the series of ‘dates’) is real. The A-series is something which is a product of our representation of the world, but not a feature of reality itself. And in other, less central, areas of his work, this kind of theme has been repeated: ‘Objective decision making’ (1980) argues that the right way to understand decision theory is as a theory of what is the objectively correct decision, the one that will actually as a matter of fact achieve your intended goal, rather than the one that is justified purely in terms of what you believe, regardless of whether the belief is true or false. ‘I and now’ (1989) argues against a substantial subjective conception of the self, using analogies between subjective and objective ways of thinking about time and subjective and objective ways of thinking about the self. And in the paper which shall be the focus of my attention here, ‘Nothing like experience’ (1992), Mellor.. (shrink)
A common anti-egalitarian argument is that equality is motivated by envy, or the desire to placate envy. In order to avoid this charge, John Rawls explicitly banishes envy from his original position. This article argues that this is an inconsistent and untenable position for Rawls, as he treats envy as if it were a fact of human psychology and believes that principles of justice should be based on such facts. Therefore envy should be known about in the original position. (...) The consequences for Rawlsian theory—both substantive and methodological—are discussed. (shrink)
In ‘Two Spheres, Twenty Spheres, and the Identity of Indiscernibles,’ Della Rocca argues that any counterexample to the PII would involve ‘a brute fact of non-identity [. . .] not grounded in any qualitative difference.’ I respond that Adams's so-called Continuity Argument against the PII does not postulate qualitatively inexplicable brute facts of identity or non-identity if understood in the context of Kripkean modality. One upshot is that if the PII is understood to quantify over modal as well as (...) non-modal properties, the qualitative explicability of numerical distinctness requires not the PII but a principle of the identity of necessary indiscernibles. (shrink)
In the literature on free will, fatalism, and determinism, a distinction is commonly made between temporally intrinsic (‘hard’) and temporally relational (‘soft’) facts at times; determinism, for instance, is the thesis that the temporally intrinsic state of the world at some given past time, together with the laws, entails a unique future (relative to that time). Further, it is commonly supposed by incompatibilists that only the ‘hard facts’ about the past are fixed and beyond our control, whereas the (...) ‘soft facts’ about the past needn’t be. A substantial literature arose in connection with this distinction, though no consensus emerged as to the proper way to analyze it. It is time, I believe, to revisit these issues. The central claim of this paper is that the attempts to analyze the hard/soft fact distinction got off on fundamentally the wrong track. The crucial feature of soft facts is that they (in some sense) depend on the future. Following recent work on the notion of dependence, however, I argue that the literature on the soft/hard distinction has failed to capture the sense of dependence at stake. This is because such attempts have tried to capture softness in terms of purely modal notions like entailment and necessitation. As I hope to show, however, such notions cannot capture the sort of asymmetrical dependence relevant to soft facthood. Arguing for this claim is the first goal of this paper. My second goal is to gesture towards what an adequate account of soft facthood will really look like. (shrink)
G. A. Cohen has recently argued for a thesis about the relationship between facts and principles. He claims that Rawls denies this thesis, and the truth of this thesis vitiates Rawls’s constructivist procedure. I argue against both claims by developing an account of Rawls’s justificatory strategy and the role of facts in this strategy, which I claim is similar to the role of facts in some defences of utilitarianism.
According to the truthmaker theory that we favour, all contingent truths are made true by existing facts or states of affairs. But if that is so, then it appears that we must accept the existence of the negative facts that are required to make negative truths (such as 'There is no hippopotamus in the room.') true. We deny the existence of negative facts, show how negative truths are made true by positive facts, point out where the (...) (reluctant) advocates of negative facts (Russell, Armstrong, et al.) went wrong, and demonstrate the superiority of our solution to the alternatives. (shrink)
If understanding is factive, the propositions that express an understanding are true. I argue that a factive conception of understanding is unduly restrictive. It neither reflects our practices in ascribing understanding nor does justice to contemporary science. For science uses idealizations and models that do not mirror the facts. Strictly speaking, they are false. By appeal to exemplification, I devise a more generous, flexible conception of understanding that accommodates science, reflects our practices, and shows a sufficient but not slavish (...) sensitivity to the facts. (shrink)
Suppose that unobtanium-346 is a rare radioactive isotope. Consider: (1) Every Un346 atom, at its creation, decays within 7 microseconds (µs). (50%) Every Un346 atom, at its creation, has a 50% chance of decaying within 7µs. (1) and (50%) can be true together, but (1) and (50%) cannot together be laws of nature. Indeed, (50%)'s mere (non-vacuous) truth logically precludes (1)'s lawhood. A satisfactory analysis of chance and lawhood should nicely account for this relation. I shall argue first that David (...) Lewis's Humean picture accounts for this relation only by inserting this relation ‘by hand’. Next, I shall argue that this relation between law and chance also threatens a radically non-Humean picture of laws and chances. Finally, I shall offer an account of natural law that nicely explains the relation between chancy facts and deterministic laws. This explanation is not ad hoc because it derives the relation from the very same features of lawhood that account for the laws' special relation to counterfactuals and explain how the laws (unlike the accidents) possess a variety of necessity. The reason that a chancy fact such as (50%) keeps (1) from being a law, without keeping (1) from being true, is ultimately that a chancy fact constrains the subjunctive facts and (1)'s lawhood, unlike (1)'s truth, depends upon the subjunctive facts. (shrink)
In this paper, I seek to undermine G.A. <span class='Hi'>Cohen</span>’s polemical use of a metaethical claim he makes in his article, ‘Facts and Principles’, by arguing that that use requires an unsustainable equivocation between epistemic and logical grounding. I begin by distinguishing three theses that <span class='Hi'>Cohen</span> has offered during the course of his critique of Rawls and contractualism more generally, the foundationalism about grounding thesis, the justice as non-regulative thesis, and the justice as all-encompassing thesis, and briefly argue (...) that they are analytically independent of each other. I then offer an outline of the foundationalism about grounding thesis, characterising it, as <span class='Hi'>Cohen</span> does, as a demand of logic. That thesis claims that whenever a normative principle is dependent on a fact, it is so dependent in virtue of some other principle. I then argue that although this is true as a matter of logic, it, as <span class='Hi'>Cohen</span> admits, cannot be true of actual justifications, since logic cannot tell us anything about the truth as opposed to the validity of arguments. Facts about a justification cannot then be decisive for whether or not a given argument violates the foundationalism about grounding thesis. As long as, independently of actual justifications, theorists can point to plausible logically grounding principles, as I argue contractualists can, <span class='Hi'>Cohen</span>’s thesis lacks critical bite. (shrink)
This essay is a reflection on the idea of truth-making and its applications. I respond to a critique of my 1986 paper on truth-making and discuss some key principles at play in the Truth-maker Program as it has emerged over the past 25 years, paying special attention to negative and general truths. I maintain my opposition to negative and general facts, but give an improved account of how to do without them. In the end, I accept Truth-maker Maximalism and (...) a weakened form of Truth-maker Necessitarianism, reject the assumption that truth-makers must be entities, and urge that the idea of a truth-maker be broadened and loosened so that it applies to anti-realistic as well as realistic truths. (shrink)
The image of perception as openness to fact is best understood as the claim that the contents of perception are mind-independent facts. However, I argue against John McDowell that this claim, which he accepts, is incompatible with his conceptualism, namely the thesis that the contents of perception are fully conceptual. If we want to give justice to the image of perception as openness to facts, we have to acknwoledge that perception relates us to a non-conceptual world.
What are facts, situations, or events? When Situation Semantics was born in the eighties, I objected because I could not swallow the idea that situations might be chunks of information. For me, they had to be particulars like sticks or bricks. I could not imagine otherwise. The first manuscript of “An Investigation of the Lumps of Thought” that I submitted to Linguistics and Philosophy had a footnote where I distanced myself from all those who took possible situations to be (...) units of information. In that context and at that time, this meant Jon Barwise and John Perry. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that whether or not a world is good can be a contingent fact about the world that is not dependent upon that world's natural facts, or, indeed, upon anyother facts. If so, the property, good, does not supervene upon the facts of nature (or upon any other facts). My argument for this claimis that it is possible to view the very world in which we live (viz. the natural facts that (...) constitute it) as good and to view it as bad. (shrink)
Brute facts are facts that have no explanation. If we come to know that a fact is brute, we obviously don’t get an explanation of that fact. Nevertheless, we do make some sort of epistemic gain. In this essay, I give an account of that epistemic gain, and suggest that the idea of brute facts allows us to distinguish between the notion of explanation and the notion of understanding.I also discuss Eric Barnes’ (1994) attack on Friedman’s (1974) (...) version of the unification theory of explanation. The unification theory asserts that scientific understanding results from minimizing the number of brute facts that we have to accept in our view of the world. Barnes claims that the unification theory cannot do justice to the notion of being a brute fact, because it implies that brute facts are gaps in our understanding of the world. I defend Friedman’s theory against Barnes’ critique. (shrink)
Social thinkers frequently remind us that people differ in their views on what constitutes personal well-being, but that even when they don't differ, they disagree over the extent to which one person's well-being can be permitted to be traded off against another's. In this paper I show, by offering an account of the development of development economics, that in professional debates on social policy, economists speak or write as though they agree on values but differ on their reading of (...) class='Hi'>facts. A number of ethicists have concluded from this near-exclusive interest in facts that modern economics must be an ethical desert. It is shown here that the reason research economists analyze facts rather than values is that modern economics is built on broad ethical foundations, capable of being reduced as special cases to the various ethical theories that are currently on offer. Ethics has taken a back seat in modern economics not because contemporary economists are wedded to a “value-free” enterprise, but because the ethical foundations of the subject were constructed over five decades ago and are now regarded to be a settled matter. (shrink)
It seems impossible that organisms selected to maximize their genetic legacy could also be moral agents in a world in which taking risks for strangers is sometimes morally laudable. Brian Zamulinski argues that it is possible if morality is an evolutionary by-product rather than an adaptation.Evolutionary Intuitionism presents a new evolutionary theory of human morality. Zamulinski explains the evolution of foundational attitudes, whose relationships to acts constitute moral facts. With foundational attitudes and the resulting moral facts in place, (...) he shows how they ground a plausible normative morality, give answers to meta-ethical questions, and provide an account of moral motivation. He explains the nature of moral intuitions and, thus, of our access to the moral facts. He shows that the theory makes confirmed empirical predictions, including the observable variation in moral views. The combination of intuitionism and evolutionary ethics enables Zamulinski to overcome the standard objections to both.Evolutionary Intuitionism is a unified theory of human morality that explains how an objective morality could develop naturally in a physical world like ours, among organisms like us. (shrink)
Can we have a posteriori knowledge of modal facts? And if so, is that knowledge fundamentally a posteriori, or does a priori intuition provide the modal component of what is known? Though the latter view seems more straightforward, there are also reasons for taking the first option seriously.
in American Philosophical Quarterly 44 (3), July 2007, pp. 259-72. Argues that epistemically normative claims are made true by the same facts as, but do not mean the same as, certain natural-sounding claims.
The Facts of Causation grapples with one of philosophy's most enduring issues. Causation is central to all of our lives. What we see and hear causes us to believe certain facts about the world. We need that information to know how to act and how to cause the effects we desire. D. H. Mellor, a leading scholar in the philosophy of science and metaphysics, offers a comprehensive theory of causation. (...) Many questions about causation remain unsettled. In science, the indeterminism of modern physics and genetics have made such questions considerably harder for philosophers to answer. While progress has been made, a complete account of the nature and cosequences of causation is long overdue. This major study provides that account. (shrink)
§1. Here is a familiar regress argument: Take the fact that Ed runs. What is the nature of this fact? If we think ‘runs’ stands for a property, the property of running (call it Running), then, arguably, Ed and this property are constituents of this fact. But the fact cannot simply consist of Ed and Running. For Ed can exist and Running can exist even if Ed doesn’t run. For it to be a fact that Ed runs, Ed must instantiate (...) Running. But adding the talk of instantiation just gets us another constituent of the fact: the relation of instantiation, call it Inst. But Ed can exist, Running can exist, and the relation Inst can exist even if Ed doesn’t run. Trying the same strategy as before we can say that Ed, Running and Inst must stand in the right relation for it to be a fact that Ed runs. But it should be clear that we are off on a vicious regress. As stated, the regress concerns facts, and I will keep referring to as the fact regress. But it is not obvious, at least, that we need to reify facts to get the regress going. All we need is a notion of something’s being the case, and the legitimacy of asking how, or in virtue of what, something is the case: Suppose it is the case that Ed runs. In virtue of what is it so? The existence of Ed and Running are not sufficient for it to be the case that Ed runs. For it to be the case that Ed runs, Ed must instantiate Running. But the existence of Ed, Running, and Inst is not sufficient for it to be the case that Ed runs. Etc. The regress argument given is sometimes called Bradley’s regress. But both because Bradley interpretation is controversial and because there are many different regress arguments bearing family resemblances to each other, I will by and large avoid that label. I think that the regress displayed by this argument brought up clearly is vicious, so some way of blocking the argument must be found. At no stage of the reasoning do we actually find ourselves in a position to say that a fact exists – or that something is the case – but we just add more and more entities, to no avail. Sometimes it is insisted that the regresses established by arguments like the one I have presented are not vicious.. (shrink)