About this topic
Summary Many metaphysicians have argued that there exist facts, or states of affairs, such as the fact that Bertie is a beagle. Such facts are not linguistic entities, like sentences or propositions, but rather substantial parts of concrete reality. On some views, the fact that Bertie is a beagle involves Bertie himself and the property of being a beagle. Facts have played a prominent role in metaphysical theories, including in Russell's and Wittgenstein's logical atomism. According to many metaphysicians, facts play a crucial role in grounding truths. It is the existence of the fact that Bertie is adorable that makes the corresponding sentence or proposition true. Neither Bertie on his own nor Bertie plus property is a sufficient truthmaker, since Bertie might not have been adorable.
Key works Wittgenstein 1922 and Russell 1940 put facts front-and-center in their logical atomist metaphysics, but disagreed about their nature. Skyrms 1981 develops Wittgenstein’s approach to facts. Armstrong 1997 is a key recent work on facts (which Armstrong calls ‘states of affairs’) and their role in metaphysics. Neale 2001 is an extended argument against the existence of facts, based on the slingshot argument; Restall 2004 is a response to Neale’s argument. Zalta 1993 gives an account of facts based on his theory of abstract objects.
Introductions Textor forthcoming is an encyclopaedia-length article on states of affairs. Chapter 8 of Armstrong 1997 is more partisan but clearly conveys the metaphysical importance of states of affairs.
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  1. The Simplicity of the Tractatus.Elizabeth Anscombe - 1989 - Critica 21 (63):3 - 16.
  2. States of Affairs and Identity of Attributes in Spinoza.Richard E. Aquila - 1983 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 8 (1):161-179.
  3. Peter Simons on A World of States of Affairs.D. M. Armstrong - 1999 - European Journal of Philosophy 7:119-123.
  4. A World of States of Affairs.D. M. Armstrong - 1997 - Cambridge University Press.
    In this important study D. M. Armstrong offers a comprehensive system of analytical metaphysics that synthesises but also develops his thinking over the last twenty years. Armstrong's analysis, which acknowledges the 'logical atomism' of Russell and Wittgenstein, makes facts the fundamental constituents of the world, examining properties, relations, numbers, classes, possibility and necessity, dispositions, causes and laws. All these, it is argued, find their place and can be understood inside a scheme of states of affairs. This is a comprehensive and (...)
  5. Reply to Martin.D. M. Armstrong - 1997 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 75 (2):214 – 217.
    Totality states of affairs (Russell's 'general facts') are defended against Martin's criticisms. Although higher-order, they are not 'abstract in Quine's sense. If space-time is the whole of being, and if it can be seen as a vast conjunction of states of affairs, then the state of affairs that this is the totality of lower-order states of affairs is not additional to, but completes, space-times. If totality states of affairs are admitted, then there seems no need for any further negative states (...)
  6. A World of States of Affairs.D. M. Armstrong - 1993 - Philosophical Perspectives 7 (3):429-440.
    In this important study D. M. Armstrong offers a comprehensive system of analytical metaphysics that synthesises but also develops his thinking over the last twenty years. Armstrong's analysis, which acknowledges the 'logical atomism' of Russell and Wittgenstein, makes facts the fundamental constituents of the world, examining properties, relations, numbers, classes, possibility and necessity, dispositions, causes and laws. All these, it is argued, find their place and can be understood inside a scheme of states of affairs. This is a comprehensive and (...)
  7. Classes Are States of Affairs.D. M. Armstrong - 1991 - Mind 100 (2):189-200.
  8. Questions About States of Affairs.David M. Armstrong - 2009 - In M. Reicher (ed.), States of Affairs. Ontos Verlag. pp. 30--39.
  9. Truthmaking, Truth, and Realism: New Work for a Theory of Truthmakers.Jamin Asay - 2011 - Dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Truthmaker theory begins with the idea that truth depends upon reality. When a truth-bearer is true, that is because something or other in the world makes it true. My dissertation offers a theory of truthmakers that shows how we should flesh out this thought while avoiding the contentious metaphysical commitments that are built into other truthmaker theories. Because of these commitments, many philosophers have come to view truthmaker theory as being essentially tied to correspondence theories of truth, and to metaphysical (...)
  10. Unfair to Facts.J. L. Austin - 1961 - In J. O. Urmson & G. J. Warnock (eds.), Philosophical Papers. Clarendon Press.
  11. Expressivism About Making and Truth-Making.Stephen Barker - 2012 - In Fabrice Correia & Benjamin Schnieder (eds.), Metaphysical Grounding: Understanding the Structure of Reality. Cambridge University Press. pp. 272-293.
    My goal is to illuminate truth-making by way of illuminating the relation of making. My strategy is not to ask what making is, in the hope of a metaphysical theory about is nature. It's rather to look first to the language of making. The metaphor behind making refers to agency. It would be absurd to suggest that claims about making are claims about agency. It is not absurd, however, to propose that the concept of making somehow emerges from some feature (...)
  12. Nonobtaining States of Affairs.Thomas P. Barron - 1981 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 19 (4):413-423.
  13. Facts, Propositions, Exemplification and Truth.C. A. Baylis - 1948 - Mind 57 (228):459-479.
  14. On the Independence of States of Affairs.Robert W. Beard - 1969 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 47 (1):65 – 68.
  15. 5. Following the Facts.Lawrence C. Becker - 1999 - In A New Stoicism. Princeton University Press. pp. 43-80.
  16. Truthmakers: The Contemporary Debate.Helen Beebee & Julian Dodd (eds.) - 2005 - Clarendon Press.
  17. If You Believe in Positive Facts, You Should Believe in Negative Facts.Gunnar Björnsson - 2007 - Hommage À Wlodek. Philosophical Papers Dedicated to Wlodek Rabinowicz.
    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 (...)
  18. Universals, States of Affairs, and Causality.Bojan Borstner - 2000 - Theoria 43 (1-2):45-64.
  19. Facts, Norms, and Normative Facts: A Reply to Habermas.Robert Brandom - 2000 - European Journal of Philosophy 8 (3):356–374.
  20. Facts Vs. Things: Adam Wodeham and the Later Medieval Debate About Objects of Judgment.Susan Brower-Toland - 2006 - Review of Metaphysics 60 (3):597-642.
    Commentators have long agreed that Wodeham’s account of objects of judgment is highly innovative, but they have continued to disagree about its proper interpretation. Some read him as introducing items that are merely supervenient on (and nothing in addition to) Aristotelian substances and accidents; others take him to be introducing a new type of entity in addition to substances and accidents—namely, abstract states of affairs. In this paper, I argue that both interpretations are mistaken: the entities Wodeham introduces are really (...)
  21. Against the Compositional View of Facts.William Bynoe - 2011 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (1):91-100.
    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 (...)
  22. Metaphysics and Scientific Realism: Essays in Honour of David Malet Armstrong.Francesco F. Calemi (ed.) - 2016 - De Gruyter.
  23. Truthmaker Necessitarianism and Maximalism.Ross P. Cameron - 2005 - Logique Et Analyse 48 (189-192):43-56.
    In this paper I examine two principles of orthodox truthmaker theory: truthmaker maximalism - the doctrine that every (contingent) truth has a truthmaker, and truthmaker necessitarianism - the doctrine that the existence of a truthmaker necessitates the truth of any proposition which it in fact makes true. I argue that maximalism should be rejected and that once it is we only have reason to hold a restricted form of necessitarianism.
  24. The Intrinsic Value of Non-Basic States of Affairs.Erik Carlson - 1996 - Philosophical Studies 85 (1):95-107.
  25. On Novel Facts.Martin Carrier - 1988 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 19 (2):205-231.
    Das Problem, unter welchen Bedingungen eine Hypothese oder Theorienmodifikation als methodologisch akzeptabel gilt, wird in der wissenschaftstheoretischen Tradition als die Frage des Ad-Hoc-Charakters von Hypothesen diskutiert. Das gleichartige Problem tritt aber auch in Lakatos' Methodologie wissenschaftlicher Forschungsprogramme auf, welche von methodologisch zulässigen Theorienänderungen die Vorhersage 'neuer Tatsachen' verlangt. Über diesen Begriff der neuen Tatsache und damit der Adäquatheitsbedingungen für wissenschaftliche Erklärungen hat sich eine weitgefächerte Debatte entsponnen. In diesem Papier wird der Versuch unternommen, die Forderung der unabhängigen Testbarkeit einer Hypothese, (...)
  26. Events.Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi - 2014 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    A critical survey of the main philosophical theories about events and event talk, organized in three main sections: (i) Events and Other Categories (Events vs. Objects; Events vs. Facts; Events vs. Properties; Events vs. Times); (ii) Types of Events (Activities, Accomplishments, Achievements, and States; Static and Dynamic Events; Actions and Bodily Movements; Mental and Physical Events; Negative Events); (iii) Existence, Identity, and Indeterminacy.
  27. Wittgenstein: World, Reality and States of Affairs.Gerard Casey - 1991 - Philosophical Studies 33:107-111.
  28. States of Affairs.Laurent Cesalli - 2012 - In John Marenbon (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Medieval Philosophy. Oxford University Press. pp. 421--444.
  29. 2. Current Affairs.Chi-yen Ch'en - 1980 - In Hsun Yueh and the Mind of Late Han China: A Translation of the Shen-Chien. Princeton University Press. pp. 126-149.
  30. Negative Truths From Positive Facts.Colin Cheyne & Charles Pigden - 2006 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (2):249 – 265.
    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 (...)
  31. The Structure of States of Affairs”.Roderick Chisholm - 1985 - In Bruce Vermazen & Merrill B. Hintikka (eds.), Essays on Davidson: Actions and Events. Oxford University Press. pp. 107--114.
  32. Language, Logic, and States of Affairs”.Roderick Chisholm - 1969 - In Sidney Hook (ed.), Language and Philosophy. New York University Press. pp. 241--248.
  33. Person and Object: A Metaphysical Study.Roderick M. Chisholm - 1976 - Open Court.
  34. The Intrinsic Value in Disjunctive States of Affairs.Roderick M. Chisholm - 1975 - Noûs 9 (3):295-308.
  35. States of Affairs Again.Roderick M. Chisholm - 1971 - Noûs 5 (2):179-189.
  36. Negative States of Affairs.Chrudzimski Arkadiusz - 2012 - Symposium 16 (2):106-127.
    In Reinach’s works one finds a very rich ontology of states of affairs. Some of them are positive, some negative. Some of them obtain, some do not. But even the negative and non-obtaining states of affairs are absolutely independent of any mental activity. Despite this claim of the “ontological equality” of positive and negative states of affairs, there are, according to Reinach, massive epistemological differences in our cognitive access to them. Positive states of affairs can be directly “extracted” from our (...)
  37. Negative States of Affairs: Reinach Versus Ingarden.Arkadiusz Chrudzimski - 2012 - Symposium. The Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy 16 (2):106-127.
    In Reinach’s works one finds a very rich ontology of states of affairs. Some of them are positive, some negative. Some of them obtain, some do not. But even the negative and non-obtaining states of affairs are absolutely independent of any mental activity. Now in spite of this claim of the “ontological equality” of positive and negative states of affairs there are, according to Reinach, massive epistemological differences in our cognitive access to them. Positive states of affairs could be directly (...)
  38. Negative States of Affairs.Arkadiusz Chrudzimski - 2012 - Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy/Revue canadienne de philosophie continentale 16 (2):106-127.
  39. Composed Objects, Internal Relations, and Purely Intentional Negativity. Ingarden's Theory of States of Affairs.Arkadiusz Chrudzimski - 2010 - Polish Journal of Philosophy 4 (2):63-80.
    Ingarden’s official ontology of states of affairs is by no means reductionist. According to him there are states of affairs, but they are ontologically dependent onother entities. There are certain classical arguments for the introduction of states of affairs as extra entities over and above the nominal objects, that can be labelled “the problem of composition,” “the problem of relation” and “the problem of negation.” To the first two Ingarden proposes rather traditional solutions, while his treatment of negation proves to (...)
  40. Contentless Syntax, Ineffable Semantics and Transcendental Ontology. Reflections on Wittgenstein’s Tractatus.Arkadiusz Chrudzimski - 2003 - Kriterion: Journal of Philosophy 17 (1):1-6.
    Wittgenstein’s Tractatus contains some very striking theses. We read, e.g., that „in a sense” we could not be wrong in logic, and that the whole subject matter of the theory of modalities could be reconstructed on the ground of the insights in the mechanism of the linguistic reference. Yet in the light of the last sentences of Tractatus the whole semantics turns out to be principaly ineffable. In our paper we will try to clarify these matters. We show how these (...)
  41. Wozu Brauchte Carl Stumpf Sachverhalte?Arkadiusz Chrudzimski - 2003 - Brentano Studien 10:67-82.
  42. Objects, Properties and States of Affairs. An Aristotelian Ontology of Truth Making.Arkadiusz Chrudzimski - 2002 - Axiomathes 13 (2):187-215.
  43. What Facts Are.Ralph W. Clark - 1976 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 14 (3):257-267.
  44. Facts.Romane Clark - 1966 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 4 (3):123-136.
  45. The Case for States of Affairs.Michael Corrado - 1978 - Philosophia 7 (3-4):523-536.
  46. Temporal Necessity; Hard Facts/Soft Facts.William Lane Craig - 1986 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 20 (2/3):65 - 91.
    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 (...)
  47. D.M. Armstrong, A World of States of Affairs. [REVIEW]C. Daly - 1998 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 76 (4):640.
  48. An Integral Approach to Health Science and Healthcare.Patrick Daly - 2017 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 38 (1):15-40.
    Defining disease and delineating its boundaries is a contested area in contemporary philosophy of medicine. The leading naturalistic theory faces a new round of difficulties related to defining a normal environment alongside normal organismic functioning and to delineating a discrete boundary between risk factors and disease. Normative theories face ongoing and seemingly intractable difficulties related to value pluralism and the problematic relation between theory and practice. In this article, I argue for an integral—as opposed to a hybrid—philosophy of health based (...)
  49. The Correspondence Theory of Truth.Marian David - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Narrowly speaking, the correspondence theory of truth is the view that truth is correspondence to a fact -- a view that was advocated by Russell and Moore early in the 20 th century. But the label is usually applied much more broadly to any view explicitly embracing the idea that truth consists in a relation to reality, i.e., that truth is a relational property involving a characteristic relation (to be specified) to some portion of reality (to be specified). During the (...)
  50. Of Affairs.Julian Dodd - 2009 - In Robin Le Poidevin (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Metaphysics. Routledge. pp. 322.
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