• Sir2u
    I'm using the standard philosophical definition of "fact".numberjohnny5

    Where did you get this definition? Please give me the link to it, unless it is Wikipedia.
  • numberjohnny5
    Yes, but that's changing the topic from when a cat is feline to when a cat is thought of as feline.Sapientia

    It's not changing the topic. In my view, a cat is never objectively feline because "feline" is a meaningful term that is assigned to animals like cats/that have the properties that cats have relative to other animals. This is just a fundamental disagreement about what meaning is, and whether abstract objects are real or not, I think, and so we'll just be going around in circles unless those issues are addressed.

    that's where I suspect your form of idealism would come in. It's a variation of the old chestnut, "to be is to be perceived".Sapientia

    You're misunderstanding me. I'm not saying anything like "my perception of something makes it have the properties that it does", like Berkeley. I'm saying, rather, that anything meaningful I assign to objects/properties is not the same as the objects/properties I'm assigning meaning onto. That my classifications of stuff are not the same kinds of stuff as the stuff I'm classifying. It would be a category error to assume the opposite were true.

    A cat is a feline because it has been classified as such, and that's a sufficient explanation.Sapientia

    A cat is an animal that we label "feline" based on our taxonomy of animal classification. "Feline" is obviously a label that individuals construct. The term "feline" is not inherent within the animal itself, otherwise what kind of thing, ontologically, is "feline"? What and where is the property "feline"?

    There is no view-from-nowhere. — numberjohnny5

    That's a kind of nonsense phrase that idealists tend to bring up. I don't recall ever seeing a realist actually posit a so-called view-from-nowhere. I certainly have not done so. There doesn't need to be a view at all. It's the idealist who thinks in those terms. I'm just telling you what's the case, or what it would be.

    The "view-from-nowhere" phrase was brought up because it seems you believe concepts (once conceived) are things that objectively exist sans minds. So it's like you're saying that when concepts are initially conceived, they are from an individual perspective; but then after that, they are objectively real from no perspective. They exist in the thing they are about, somehow.

    Just as things like rocks and trees don't depend on mental events, and just as facts of the kind under discussion - such as that Earth preexisted us - don't depend on mental events, nor do logical relationships like those implied by classification.Sapientia

    Logic is mental. Concepts are mental. If there were no individuals, there would exist no logic. Are you equating logic with objective phenomena like rocks and trees?

    What does that mean? We come up with concepts. They're conceived by us. An act of conception. But they're no more attached to us than you or I are attached to our respective mothers by umbilical cord. We are independent, as are they.Sapientia

    Yes, they are. The kinds of things that concepts are are brain states, particularly, mental states.

    And it's a similar thing with classifications. Things don't classify themselves. We classify things. But once a classification has been made, we're no longer necessary. We can step back. Job done. You'd need a cause for the situation to change.Sapientia

    Classifications are made by individuals, right? So they are made from a perspective. They can be written down as objective ink on paper, but they need individuals to assign meaning onto them, otherwise they are just ink on paper.

    What is your take on meaning--where is it? What is it? I think this will get to the heart of the matter in terms of our disagreements.

    But the act of conceiving is distinct from the concept conceived, yes? Like the act of production is distinct from the product produced. I presume that you'd agree that a product, once produced, no longer depends for it's existence as a product on the process in which it was produced, yes?Sapientia

    No, it depends on what kinds of things we're referring to. Conceiving something and "holding/maintaining" the concept conceived are mental events i.e. thoughts. They are subjective phenomena. They aren't objective (external-to-mind) phenomena. I think what you're talking about is conceiving something as mental phenomena, and then expressing that conception in various material forms, maybe? Like expressing the concept "blue moon" as a drawing on a piece of paper, or via speech-sounds. If that's what you're getting at, that drawing and those speech-sounds wouldn't actually have any inherent meaning. They are objectively a drawing and speech-sounds in that they exist external-to-minds, but meaning is assigned to objective (external-to-mind) phenomena. That's because objective phenomena is not the same kind of thing--doesn't consist of the same kinds of properties/materials--as subjective phenomena. The first-person experience of conceiving and making statements, etc. cannot be observed from third-person perspectives. We can only observe the things that constitute the expression of concepts from third-person perspectives. So for example, the conception of some criteria cannot be literally first-person observed/experienced from another person's first-person experience. That criteria can be expressed via language though. So the "act of producing" some criteria in your mind is not the same kind of thing, ontologically, as the way that criteria is produced/translated/expressed in the form of objective materials, like speech-sounds, pixels on a screen, a diagram/list on paper, etc.

    This is a statement: "Earth preexisted humanity". It is displayed on a website. If we all suddenly ceased to exist, then, all else being equal, the statement would still be there, and it would of course still be true, because it would of course still be the case that Earth preexisted humanity.

    The statement would still be there as pixels on a screen, but there would be no meaning inherent in those pixels. Meaning occurs in minds--we assign meaning onto things like pixels on a screen.

    And I don't agree that there would be no truth or falsity either, as truth and falsity would correspond accordingly with what is or is not the case, which, as I've demonstrated, does not depend on us or our judgementSapientia

    "Truth" is always true to someone because truth is a property of propositions, and propositions are mental events. (Objective) facts/states of affairs are not dependent on someone's perspective, as we agreed.

    If no minds, then no minds to judge, comprehend, ascertain, perceive, conceive, understand, think about, know, etc., etc., the truth. But, nevertheless, the truth would be there, with or without us, and with or without our minds, or those of anyone else for that matter, and with or without our judging, comprehending, ascertaining, perceiving, conceiving, understanding, thinking, knowing, etc., etc., anything at all, because the correspondence between truth and fact does not require us, or our minds, or those of anyone else, or any judging, comprehending, ascertaining, perceiving, conceiving, understanding, thinking, knowing, etc., etc., to take place - again, as I've demonstrated. The show would simply go on without us.Sapientia

    I think "the truth" is something you're thinking is a real abstract. You spoke of Lockean primary qualities as opposed to Platonic Forms, but you do realise that primary qualities are inherent qualities within things, right? How does something mental, like "criteria", or a concept, though originally conceived within a mind, then become inherent within the object/thing the criteria/concept refer to?

    I think by "the truth" you mean "the cat is feline is an objective fact". But in my view, when we say "the cat is feline," we mean, "it's a fact that we assign meaning to those animals we label as "cats" in the form of a classification system in which cats are labelled 'feline'."

    It's like you're saying we conceive of things and make truth-claims about things, and once we have made truth-claims, they persist with or without us. So they go from being mental to non-mental. Well, what exactly is existing/persisting that once was mental and now isn't? What kind of thing is an objective truth-claim? Do you believe 2+2=4 is an objective fact? Where and what kind of thing is the concept "2" in reality if not in minds?

    Also, I still want to know what evidence you have to support your claim that I'm some kind of idealist.
  • numberjohnny5
    I'm using the standard philosophical definition of "fact". — numberjohnny5

    Where did you get this definition? Please give me the link to it, unless it is Wikipedia.

    I must admit, after having looked into it, I didn't realise there were a few popular philosophical and non-philosophical definitions of fact/states of affairs that are not the same. I assumed there was only one--the one that I thought was the standard definition. So that's another thing that I've found useful to learn through this debate/discussion.

    I use the Russellian definition, which is one among other popular/standard philosophical definitions. Here's a link: https://stanford.library.sydney.edu.au/archives/sum2009/entries/states-of-affairs/

    The Wikipedia (and Honderich) definitions are also standard definitions, I think, although they don't clearly make reference to objective facts/states of affairs as ontologically different in "kind" in relation to things like truth-claims or propositions, which are mental.

    Another discussion about this is in this link: https://philosophynow.org/issues/115/Facts_and_Opinions

    The conclusion details the ontological difference between facts and beliefs/claims.

    So, in light of these definitions, my view is that as facts/states of affairs aren't the same kind of thing as mental states (which experience and produce things like truth-claims), I then infer that facts/states of affairs don't hinge on things like truth-claims to be the kind of thing that they are i.e. to have the properties that they do. Objective things that mental states refer to aren't the same kinds of things as mental states that do the referring. And that's what leads me to conclude that "facts/events/states of affairs" aren't mind-dependent (but mind-independent), since they don't possess the same properties of minds, and are in different locations to minds (i.e. external to minds).
  • Sir2u
    I use the Russellian definition, which is one among other popular/standard philosophical definitions.numberjohnny5

    Interesting article.
    "Like properties and particulars, states of affairs make up an ontological category — a fundamental kind of entity. At least, they seem to be so regarded by those philosophers who deploy this concept in philosophical explanations. Explicit recognition of states of affairs is relatively recent in philosophy. In the guise of facts, states of affairs entered center stage at the beginning of the 20th century in efforts of Bertrand Russell (Russell 1985) and Ludwig Wittgenstein (Wittgenstein 1961) to account for truth as a property of beliefs or sentences."

    So, in light of these definitions, my view is that as facts/states of affairs aren't the same kind of thing as mental statesnumberjohnny5

    The article you referenced says,
    "The justification for thinking there are states of affairs could thus be regarded as abductive, that is, as a kind of inference to the best explanation. This kind of inference can be evaluated along a number of dimensions — Is the data real or bogus?"

    How can any form of inference or evaluation not be mental.

    "The Combination Argument

    Both Bertrand Russell and G. E. Moore came to hold that the only states of affairs that there are are facts -- states of affairs that obtain. Various passages in their writings suggest an argument for this conclusion, based on the compositionalist conception of states of affairs. For example:

    We are not now hearing the noise of a brass-band; and we all, I think, can understand the nature of the fact which I express by saying we are not. What these words imply is that there simply is no such thing in the Universe as our being now hearing that particular kind of noise. The combination of us at this moment with hearing of that particular kind of noise is a combination which simply has no being. There is no such combination. (Moore 1966, pp. 277-278)

    We can call this the "combination argument" (Wetzel 1998). If we consider (1)

    (1) this wall's being dark green

    this state of affairs would simply consist of this wall exhibiting the color dark green, on the compositionalist view. For there to be such an entity, this connection must hold between the wall the color since the state of affairs simply is the connecting of the wall to the color dark green.

    In arguing for states of affairs, Gustav Bergmann (Bergmann 1964) and D. M. Armstrong (Armstrong 1997) appeal to an argument of the following sort:

    The constituents of (1) are, let us say, the wall surface and the color dark green. How is (1) differentiated from the mere collection of these constituents {this wall, being dark green}, or the mereological sum of those constituents, this wall+being dark green? Presumably the constituents might exist even if they were not so connected. But if the constituents of (1) could exist even if (1) did not, then (1) cannot be reduced to simply the collection or mereological sum of its constituents.

    The combination argument shows that this conclusion is inconsistent with the existence of possible but non-obtaining states of affairs, as follows:

    (B1) For a basic state of affairs of the form a's-having-F, a's-having-F exists when and only when exemplification connects a to F.

    (B2) If a is connected by exemplification to F, then a's-having-F obtains.

    (B3) Hence, a's-having-F exists only if it obtains.

    (B4) Since this could be generalized to other ties connecting constituents to form states of affairs, there are no non-obtaining states of affairs.

    The combination argument assumes that exemplification is the connection that accounts for the unity (and thus existence) of a basic state of affairs of the form a's-having-F. The argument also assumes that exemplification is the connection that accounts for the obtaining of a basic state of affairs of the form a's-having-F. Clearly, the soft actualist cannot agree with both assumptions.

    At this point a soft actualist compositionalist might appeal to the following distinction. Let us say that the connection among the constituents of a state of affairs that accounts for the existence of that state of affairs is the constitutive connection for that state of affairs. And let us say that the connection among the constituents of a state of affairs that accounts for the obtaining of a state of affairs is the actualization connection for that state of affairs. In the Tractatus Logico-philosophicus Wittgenstein says: "Form is the possibility of structure." (Wittgenstein 1961, p. 13) Wittgenstein appears to be differentiating the constitutive and actualization connections of states of affairs. The "structure" (such as exemplification) is the actualization connection. The possibility of such structure being realized is the constitutive connection. The possibility of this wall surface being dark green is the constitutive connection that is necessary and sufficient for the existence of (1), on this view. Thus, a soft actualist who views states of affairs as compositional can use this distinction to escape the conclusion that there are no non-obtaining states of affairs. Exemplification must hold between the constituents of a's-having-F for this state of affairs to obtain, but a different tie accounts for the existence of that state of affairs. Soft actualism thus requires two primitives where hard actualism can get by with one."

    This is the continuation of some of Russell' ideas. It seems to imply that there must be some sort of perception for there to be a state of affairs. He also pointed out that states of affairs are facts, not that facts are states of affairs.
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