Philosophical Quarterly 54 (216):420–426 (2004)
Stephen Neale presents, in Facing Facts (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2001), one convenient package containing his reasoned complaints against theories of facts and non-extensional connectives. The slingshot is a powerful argument (or better, it is a powerful family of arguments) which constrains theories of facts, propositions and non-extensional connectives by showing that some of these theories are rendered trivial. This book is the best place to find the state of the art on the slingshot and its implications for logic, language and metaphysics. It provides a useful starting point for anyone who has wondered what all of the fuss about the slingshot amounts to. Neale shows that the fuss does amount to something, and that theories of facts must “face facts” and present an adequate response to the slingshot. However, Neale’s evaluation of the state of play for theories of facts is too pessimistic. As the book draws near to a close, Neale writes: As I have stressed, Russell’s Theory of Facts, according to which facts have properties as components, is safe. It is certainly tempting to draw the moral that if one wants non-collapsing facts one needs properties as components of facts. I have not attempted to prove this here, but I suspect it will be proved in due course. (page 210) Neale concludes that while theories which take facts to be structured entities are safe from slingshot arguments, and he suspects that this is the only kind of fact theory safe from slingshot-style collapse. If this were the case, then theories such as situation theories or accounts of truthmakers may well be threatened. However, Neale’s suspicion is ill-founded, as I shall soon show. Not only do Russellian theories of facts survive the slingshot unscathed, but so can theories of facts which take them to be unstructured entities. Furthermore, the way that this may be not only argued for, but proved can provide a new weapon in the armoury of the theorist investigating fact theories.
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