Negativefacts get a bad press. One reason for this is that it is not clear what negativefacts are. We provide a theory of negativefacts on which they are no stranger than positive atomic facts. We show that none of the usual arguments hold water against this account. Negativefacts 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)
Substantial metaphysical theory has long struggled with the question of negativefacts, 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. Negativefacts will thus be part of any ontology of positive facts. (shrink)
The author argues for the existence of negativefacts. The first section is devoted to an argument, grounded on truthmaker maximalism, that aims at demonstrating that negativefacts must exist at least as false propositions’ falsemakers. In the second section, the author analyzes and criticizes several attempts to get rid of negativefacts: the ones based on incompatibilities, absences, totality facts and polarities, as well as the ones based on various restrictions on truthmaker (...) maximalism or on the non-acceptance of facts as truthmakers. In particular, it is shown that an ontology that accepts negativefacts is simpler than an ontology that denies their existence and that in general, many attempts to get rid of negativefacts turn out to recognize the existence of such entities or of entities that are more mysterious than negativefacts themselves. (shrink)
Russell's introduction of negativefacts to account for the truth of "negative" sentences or beliefs rests on his collaboration with Wittgenstein in such efforts as the characterization of formal necessity, the theory of logical atomism, and the use of the Ideal Language. In examining their views we arrive at two conclusions. First, that the issue of negativefacts is distinct from questions of meaning or intentionality; what a sentence or belief means or is about rather (...) than what makes it true or false. Second, that the ontological use of the Ideal Language is incompatible with the requirements of its employment in the logical study of inferences. On this basis we conclude that despite elaborations by recent proponents, the doctrine of negativefacts lacks adequate support, and perhaps more importantly, it is proper ontological method to free the Ideal Language from the exigencies of a symbolism constructed for logical investigation. (shrink)
During his atomistic period, Russell felt compelled to include negativefacts in his ontology. In this essay, I diagnose the grounds of that compulsion, Assess the cogency of an ontology which includes negativefacts, And, Finding it inadequate, Consider finally alternative solutions within the atomistic framework to the root problems of negation.
The problem of the existence of negativefacts as truthmakers for negative propositions was introduced by Bertrand Russell in 1918. In the debate since then, most writers have tended to reject their existence, Russell himself being the most conspicuous exception. Two other strategies have been offered. The first, usually called incompatibilism, actually goes back to Plato, whereas the second, the totality fact theory, was introduced by D. M. Armstrong in 1997. The aim of this paper is to (...) show the problematic character of some of the presuppositions shared by all three of the strategies mentioned above – presuppositions that figure in most of the current discourse on the subject. First, the concept of a negative proposition is not clear: one needs to make a distinction between grammatically negative propositions and “ontologically” negative ones. Second, it turns out that propositions may be ontologically negative in many ways, each of which may call for a different specific analysis with respect to the question of the existence of what would be the corresponding negativefacts. Third, at the bottomline, it is shown that we need a concept of the existence or reality of facts that is not derived solely from their function as truthmakers. Such a concept, it is argued, is furnished by a theory that I shall call “ontological consequentialism”. (shrink)
This paper is a commentary on David Woodruff Smith's "Intentionality and Picturing: Early Husserl vis-à-vis Early Wittgenstein" (S J Phil 40 (Supp), 2002). I address three questions: 1. What is a fact according to Wittgenstein? What is the relation between states of affairs on the one hand and facts on the other? Is a fact an existing state of affairs (as Smith suggests), or is it the existence of a state of affairs, as most of Wittgenstein's remarks on this (...) matter in the _Tractatus suggest? The difference becomes especially important when negativefacts are under consideration. 2. How far goes the parallelism between Husserl's and Wittgenstein's models of the thought-language-world relation really? In particular: Is there anything in Wittgenstein that corresponds to Husserl's ideal senses? Do Wittgenstein's thoughts play that role? 3. Do ideal senses have an explanatory function? (shrink)
If propositions are made true in virtue of corresponding to facts, then what are the truth-makers of true negative propositions such as ‘The apple is not red’? Russell argued that there must be negativefacts to account for what makes true negative propositions true and false positive propositions false. Others, more parsimonious in their ontological commitments, have attempted to avoid them. Wittgenstein rejected them since he was loath to think that the sign for negation referred (...) to a negative element in a fact. A contemporary of Russell’s, Raphael Demos, attempted to eliminate them by appealing to ‘incompatibility’ facts. More recently, Armstrong has appealed to the totality of positive facts as the ground of the truth of true negative propositions. Oaklander and Miracchi have suggested that the absence or non-existence of the positive fact (which is not itself a further fact) is the basis of a positive proposition being false and therefore of the truth of its negation. (shrink)
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 negativefacts that are required to make negative truths (such as 'There is no hippopotamus in the room.') true. We deny the existence of negativefacts, show how negative truths are made true by positive facts, (...) point out where the (reluctant) advocates of negativefacts (Russell, Armstrong, et al.) went wrong, and demonstrate the superiority of our solution to the alternatives. (shrink)
I argue that Colin Cheyne and Charles Pigden's recent attempt to find truthmakers for negative truths fails. Though Cheyne and Pigden are correct in their treatment of some of the truths they set out to find truthmakers for (such as 'There is no hippopotamus in S223' and 'Theatetus is not flying') they over-generalize when they apply the same treatment to 'There are no unicorns'. In my view, this difficulty is ineliminable: not every truth has a truthmaker.
Substantial facts 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)
DH Mellor has argued that there can be no negative, disjunctive, or conjunctive properties. This argument has been criticized by Alex Oliver on the grounds that it rests on a contentious identity criterion for facts, but it seems to me that a simpler criticism is available. According to this criticism, the problem with Mellor's argument is that it trades on an ambiguity in the semantics of the phrase "the fact that", according to which "the fact that" can be (...) understood as creating either an intensional or an extensional context. (shrink)
This paper seeks to differentiate negative properties from positive properties, with the aim of providing the groundwork for further discussion about whether there is anything that corresponds to either of these notions. We differentiate negative and positive properties in terms of their functional role, before drawing out the metaphysical implications of proceeding in this fashion. We show that if the difference between negative and positive properties tabled here is correct, then negative properties are metaphysically contentious entities, (...) entities that many philosophers will be unwilling to countenance. (shrink)
According to truthmaker theory, particular truths are true in virtue of the existence of particular entities. Truthmaker maximalism holds that this is so for all truths. Negative existential and other ‘negative’ truths threaten the position. Despite this, maximalism is an appealing thesis for truthmaker theorists. This motivates interest in parsimonious maximalist theories, which do not posit extra entities for truthmaker duty. Such theories have been offered by David Lewis and Gideon Rosen, Ross Cameron, and Jonathan Schaffer. But these (...) theories cannot be sustained, I’ll argue, and hence maximalism comes with a serious ontological cost. Neither Armstrong’s invocation of totality facts nor the Martin-Kukso line on absences can meet this cost satisfactorily. I’ll claim that negativefacts are the best (and perhaps only) way out of the problem for the truthmaker maximalist. (shrink)
Some philosophers have argued that refraining from performing an action consists in actively keeping oneself from performing that action or preventing one’s performing it. Since activities must be held to be positive actions, this implies that negative actions are a species of positive actions which is to say that all actions are positive actions. I defend the following claims: (i) Positive actions necessarily include activity or effort, negative actions may require activity or effort, but never include the activity (...) or effort which may be required. (ii) Unless it is, or was, at some time in P’s power to Q, P does not refrain from Q-ing. (iii) Negative actions are actions , they are causings of negativefacts. (shrink)
Truthmaker maximalism is the claim that every truth has a truthmaker. The case of negative truths leads some philosophers to postulate negative states of affairs or to give up on truthmaker maximalism. This paper defends a version of the incompatibility view of negative truths. Negative truths can be made true by positive facts, and thus, truthmaker maximalism can be maintained without postulating negative states of affairs.
Grounding contingentism is the doctrine according to which grounds are not guaranteed to necessitate what they ground. In this paper I will argue that the most plausible version of contingentism is incompatible with the idea that the grounding relation is transitive, unless either ‘priority monism’ or ‘contrastivism’ are assumed.
This paper concerns Bertrand Russell’s changing views on negative judgement. ‘Negative judgement’ is considered in the context of three theories of judgement that Russell put forth at different times: a dual relation theory ; a multiple relation theory ; a psychological theory of judgement. Four issues are singled out for a more detailed discussion: quality dualism versus quality monism, that is, the question whether judgement comes in two kinds, acceptance and rejection, or whether there is only one judgement-quality (...) ; the structure of negative judging; the problem of truth-making for negativefacts; the different roles of ‘fact’ in Russell’s theories of truth. What emerges from the discussion is a rough chronology of Russell’s views on negative judgement during the period from 1903 to 1948. (shrink)
The present paper addresses Molnar’s problem :72–86, 2000): that of finding positive truthmakers for negative truths. The proposed solution, called, is to hold truth and falsity to be primitive and positive features of propositions and to take every literal negative truth to be made true by the falsity of the atomic proposition that it embeds. The solution is shown to be compatible with Maximalism, Necessitarianism and with the Entailment Thesis, as well as with most if not all possible (...) variants of truthmaking theory. Other advantages of are noted: it doesn’t require the inclusion of exotic objects in one’s ontology; it doesn’t require any revision of one’s logic or of one’s theory of modality. The solution also allows one to eschew negativefacts, tropes and properties while providing a definition of negativity for certain literal propositions. The paper ends by rebutting several objections that may be levelled against. (shrink)
I shall argue in this article that, if we need to admit of negativefacts in our ontology as falsemakers of false propositions, then it is plausible to accept that there are also negative properties conceived of as modes. After having briefly recalled the falsemaker argument, I shall explore five different alternative interpretations of negativefacts and I shall demonstrate that each alternative – except for the one involving negative properties – is affected by (...) some problems. Later on, I shall deal with a number of objections against negative properties and I shall demonstrate that they can be overcome without much difficulty. Eventually, I shall tackle Nick Zangwill's argument against the thesis that negative properties are as real as positive ones. Among other things, I shall argue that Zangwill's argument is at least limited in its scope, since it only works with negative and positive determinates within some common determinable. (shrink)
What makes it true when we say that something is not the case? Truthmaker maximalists think that every truth has a truthmaker—some fact in the world—that makes it true. No such facts can be found for the socalled negative truths. If a proposition is true when it has a truthmaker, then it would be false when it has no truthmaker. I therefore argue that negative truths, such as t<p>, are best understood as falsehoods, f<p>.
Few philosophers believe in the existence of so-called negative properties. Indeed, many find it mind-boggling just to imagine such entities. By contrast, I believe not only that negative properties are quite conceivable, but also that there are good reasons for thinking that some such properties actually exist. In this paper, I would like to explicate a concept of negative properties which I think avoids the logical absurdities commonly believed to frustrate theories of negative existences. To do (...) this, I shall deploy a conceptual approach to ontology: I first evaluate the ontological commitments of ordinary negative statements, before I argue that, from the perspective of conceptual analysis, negative properties are no more suspicious than positive properties. In the second part of this paper, I probe the extent to which one can explain the distinction between positive and negative properties in terms of facts about logico-semantical entailment. (shrink)
Mark Jago has presented a dilemma for truthmaker non-maximalism—the thesis that some but not all truths require truthmakers. The dilemma arises because some truths that do not require truthmakers by the non-maximalist’s lights (e.g., that Santa Claus does not exist) are necessitated by truths that do (e.g., that Barack Obama knows that Santa Claus does not exist). According to Jago, the non-maximalist can supply a truthmaker for such a truth only by conceding the primary motivation for the view: that it (...) allows one to avoid positing strange ‘negative’ entities without adopting a non-standard account of the necessary features of ordinary things. In this paper, I sketch out and defend two plausible non-maximalist proposals that evade Jago’s dilemma. (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)
This squib investigates a paradox that arises from the interaction of two well-studied domains of grammar: antecedent-contained deletion and the licensing of negative polarity items. The conflict arises from a simple set of facts that have been overlooked in the literature, given in (1).
Moral sceptics maintain that there are no objective moral values, or that there is no moral knowledge, or no moral facts, or that what looks like a statement which makes a moral judgment is not really a statement and does not have a truth-value. All of this is rather, unclear because all of it is negative. It will be necessary to remove some of this unclarity because my aim in this paper is to establish a proposition which may (...) be summarized by saying: even if there are no objective moral values in one sense, there are objective moralvalues in another sense, and the latter values are good enough to do some of the jobs that objective values in the first sense would have done. A useful analogy might be that of a person who has lost her hand and has been given a prosthesis. In one sense the prosthesis is not as real as the hand, in another sense it is just as real ; most importantly, the person can do with the prosthesis enough of what she could do with the hand to make do. (shrink)
A central problem for any truthmaker theory is the problem of negative truths. In this paper, I develop a novel, piecemeal strategy for solving this problem. The strategy puts central focus on a truth-relevant notion of aboutness within a metaphysically modest version of truthmaker theory and uses key conceptual tools gained by taking a deeper look at the best attempts to solve the problem of intentionality. I begin this task by critically discussing past proposed solutions to P-NEG in light (...) of Russell’s debate with Demos. This reveals a central difficulty with addressing the problem, specifically that one cannot be committed to incompatibility facts in one’s account of negation and of the truth of negative truths. I then present an aboutness-based version of truthmaker theory. Utilising what I call the strict and full account of aboutness, I extract aboutness-based theories of truth and falsity. I use this machinery to present a promising new strategy for solving P-NEG which does not have the problems of alternative approaches. Finally, I present and respond to some potential objections. (shrink)
This paper develops and defends a semantic/syntactic analysis of a curious set of negative gradable predicates in the Tlingit language, and shows that the analysis has some important consequences concerning the range of crosslinguistic variation in degree constructions. In Tlingit, certain negative gradable predicates are formed by negating a positive root and then applying an additional morphological operation: e.g. k’éi ‘good’, tlél ukʼé ‘not good’, tlél ushké ‘bad’. I show that the negation in forms like tlél ushké ‘bad’ (...) is VP-external, clausal negation, and is not an incorporated negation like English un-; and the meaning of these forms is indeed that of a gradable negative predicate, rather than the propositional negation of the positive predicate. Under the proposed analysis, the additional morphological operation observed in these forms is the reflex of a special degree relativizer, one that must undergo movement to Spec-NegP. In addition, Tlingit differs from English and other languages in that degree operators—like POS and comparative operators—can be attached high in the clause, above sentential negation. In addition to capturing various facts concerning these negative predicates, the proposed analysis raises some novel puzzles concerning intervention effects in the movement of degree operators, and provides support for the view that negative predicates like bad are morphosyntactically derived from positive predicates like good. (shrink)
I examine the arguments Donald Davidson has offered through the years concerning the ontological bona fides of facts. In "Truth and Meaning", Davidson uses the so-called "slingshot" argument to the effect that if true sentences refer, then they are all coreferential. Through a detailed examination of the assumptions underlying this argument, I show that, while it is effective as part of a reductio of bottom-up, reference based semantics, it has no tendency to establish the truth of its negative (...) conclusion concerning the existence of facts. Davidson also argues against facts by claiming they are of no help in the explication of truth. I claim that his repeated invocation of the slingshot in this context, as well as of arguments from other authors employing assumptions similar to the slingshot's, is inappropriate, especially in light of his own commitment to a top-down semantics – a committment inspired, ironically, by the reductio offered in "Truth and Meaning". Davidson's other argument against truth as correspondence, namely that our grasp of facts is no better than our grasp of truths, is sound. But this argument does not show that there are no facts; it shows only that no theory of truth in terms of correpondence to facts can genuinely illuminate its explanandum. (shrink)
Fake news and alternative facts have become commonplace in these so-called “post-factual times.” What about medical research - are scientific facts fake as well? Many recent disclosures have fueled the claim that scientific facts are suspect and that science is in crisis. Scientists appear to engage in facting interests instead of revealing interesting facts. This can be observed in terms of what has been called polarised research, where some researchers continuously publish positive results while others publish (...)negative results on the same issue – even when based on the same data. In order to identify and address this challenge, the objective of this study is to investigate how polarised research produce “polarised facts.” Mammography screening for breast cancer is applied as an example. The main benefit with mammography screening is the reduced breast cancer mortality, while the main harm is overdiagnosis and subsequent overtreatment. Accordingly, the Overdiagnosis to Mortality Reduction Ratio is an estimate of the risk-benefit-ratio for mammography screening. As there are intense interests involved as well as strong opinions in debates on mammography screening, one could expect polarisation in published results on OMRR. A literature search identifies 8 studies publishing results for OMRR and reveals that OMRR varies 25-fold, from 0.4 to 10. Two experts in polarised research were asked to rank the attitudes of the corresponding authors to mammography screening of the identified publications. The results show a strong correlation between the OMRR and the authors’ attitudes to screening. Mammography screening for breast cancer appears as an exemplary field of strongly polarised research. This is but one example of how scientists’ strong professional interests can polarise research. Instead of revealing interesting facts researchers may come to fact interests. In order to avoid this and sustain trust in science, researchers should disclose professional and not only financial interests when submitting and publishing research. (shrink)
There are five ways in which shame might negatively impact upon our attempts to combat and treat HIV. Shame can prevent an individual from disclosing all the relevant facts about their sexual history to the clinician. Shame can be a motivational factor in people living with HIV not engaging with or being retained in care. Shame can prevent individuals from presenting at clinics for STI and HIV testing. Shame can prevent an individual from disclosing their HIV status to new (...) sexual partners. Shame can serve to psychologically imprison people, it makes the task of living with HIV a far more negative experience than it should, or needs to, be. Drawing on recent philosophical work on shame, and more broadly on work in the philosophy and psychology of emotion, we propose a framework for understanding how shame operates upon those who experience the emotion, propose a strategy for combatting the negative role shame plays in the fight against HIV, and suggest further study so as to identify the tactics that might be employed in pursuing the strategy here proposed. (shrink)
The argument here comes from consideration of a certain sort of linguistic expression called negative polarity items (NPIs). These are expressions such as “any,” “at all” and “ever.” NPIs are of particular interest for semantics because they can only be used in contexts with a certain rather abstract semantic feature. However, the precise characterization of the feature is itself a matter of some controversy. For those interested in the semantics of natural language it is worthwhile to ﬁgure out precisely (...) what this feature is. Once we have an account of it, we can use the account to infer facts about the meanings of various expressions that interact with NPIs. (shrink)
ABSTRACTHindsight bias is the tendency to overestimate one’s prior knowledge of facts or events once the actual facts or events are known. Several theoretical frameworks suggest that affective states might influence hindsight bias. Nondysphoric participants in negative or neutral mood, and dysphoric participants generated and recalled answers to difficult knowledge questions. All groups showed hindsight bias, that is, their recalled estimates were closer to the correct answer when this answer was shown at recall. Multinomial modelling revealed, however, (...) that under dysphoria and induced negative mood different processes contributed to hindsight bias. Dysphoria, but not induced negative mood, was associated with a stronger reconstruction bias, compared with neutral mood. A recollection bias appeared in neutral, but neither in induced negative nor dysphoric mood. These findings highlight differences between the cognitive consequences of dysphoria and induced negative mood. (shrink)