An Argument for Completely General Facts

Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 9 (7) (2021)
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Abstract

In his 1918 logical atomism lectures, Russell argued that there are no molecular facts. But he posed a problem for anyone wanting to avoid molecular facts: we need truth-makers for generalizations of molecular formulas, but such truth-makers seem to be both unavoidable and to have an abominably molecular character. Call this the problem of generalized molecular formulas. I clarify the problem here by distinguishing two kinds of generalized molecular formula: incompletely generalized molecular formulas and completely generalized molecular formulas. I next argue that, if empty worlds are logically possible, then the model-theoretic and truth-functional considerations that are usually given address the problem posed by the first kind of formula, but not the problem posed by the second kind. I then show that Russell’s commitments in 1918 provide an answer to the problem of completely generalized molecular formulas: some truth-makers will be non-atomic facts that have no constituents. This shows that the neo-logical atomist goal of defending the principle of atomicity—the principle that only atomic facts are truth-makers—is not realizable.

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Author's Profile

Landon D. C. Elkind
Western Kentucky University

Citations of this work

Generality.Nils Kürbis - 2022 - In Nils Kürbis, Bahram Assadian & Jonathan Nassim (eds.), Knowledge, Number and Reality: Encounters with the Work of Keith Hossack. London: Bloomsbury. pp. 161-176.

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References found in this work

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Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 2003 - In John Heil (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: A Guide and Anthology. Oxford University Press.
Mathematical truth.Paul Benacerraf - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (19):661-679.
Introduction to mathematical logic.Alonzo Church - 1944 - Princeton,: Princeton University Press. Edited by C. Truesdell.
Introduction to mathematical logic..Alonzo Church - 1944 - Princeton,: Princeton university press: London, H. Milford, Oxford university press. Edited by C. Truesdell.

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