• Johnny Public
    13
    Assuming a person is defined as "desires, principles, and sensations" the way Marcus Arelious defines the soul; some people's actions ultimately increase our species chances of survival while others decrease it. In that way yes; some people are better than others. However the only reason our bloodlines and jeans have lasted as long as they have is because we all have the ability to adapt. If we all have the ability to do anything, and we are ultimately defined by what we do, then we're all the same.
  • Johnny Public
    13
    *Genes. Audio text! Is there a way to edit posts on here I don't know about?
  • Johnny Public
    13
    There really should be. I'm a man on the go!!!
  • Sir2u
    1.7k
    Is there a way to edit posts on here I don't know about?Johnny Public

    Click on the bottom of the post and some dots should appear, click on the dots and a pencil will appear.
  • numberjohnny5
    177
    It seems as though you're putting the cart before the horse, in that it seems as though you're setting out to reduce whatever I bring up to something that has a mental or a physical location, rather than starting from a position of impartiality whereby you keep your options open.Sapientia

    Well, that's because I'm a physicalist, and it doesn't make sense to me how a non-physical thing can exist. It's not as though I haven't thought about and argued this stuff before, btw.

    It's not that I'm "setting out to reduce whatever" you bring up as if I had some kind of agenda. I don't tend to use the terms "reduce/reductionism" because there's often a lot of stigma surrounding those terms in places I've argued philosophy, especially from those who tend to be dualists, universalists, and realists on abstract objects. Furthermore, what makes you think you're being more impartial?

    Also, "mental" is physical.

    classifications, once made, do not depend on us in any way. They don't depend on our having some kind of mental event which involves them. If a cat has been classified as feline, then, accordingly, a cat is feline, and that's that.Sapientia

    No wonder you believe that there exist "objective standards" of some kind. It seems that you're an externalist. A cat is thought of as feline always to someone. There is no view-from-nowhere. A cat's classification is reinforced by others thinking about a cat as feline. Classifications don't make sense outside of mental events. We assign/impose concepts upon things. Those things aren't real, objective things though. As an internalist, that's my view, anyway.

    That would be the case if there were no cats, no people, or no cats or people.Sapientia

    That's just weird to me.

    We fundamentally disagree then. It just isn't plausible that the existence of concepts depends on us actively thinking of them; nor, consequently, that they pop in and out of existence, all of a sudden, in accordance with our active thoughts. They're just not like that. Concepts are separable from - and independent of - the act of conceiving. But you're trying to blur the lines.Sapientia

    Again, that's just a bizarre thing to me. Interesting to know though. I'm curious what "concepts" are ontologically for you?

    Also, hypothetically, or for the sake of argument, if concepts are thoughts, do you think that thoughts "pop in and out of existence"?

    It doesn't even make sense to take a concept as a mental event. It's conceiving which is the mental event. You're confusing a noun with a verb, and a thing with an act.Sapientia

    Well, as we all have different ontologies, I'm sure it doesn't make sense to you. In my view, things are happening/being in some way, some more dynamic than others. Nouns and verbs can be useful, but are just ways of parsing and organising experience. Remember that old thing you said? The map ain't the territory.

    Concepts are fixed. Subsequent to conception, they remain static and uniform. They depend on beings such as us for their conception only, and from that point onwards, they're independent. We can alter them, if we're around to do so, but even if we do, those alterations will then remain in place unless tinkered with.Sapientia

    Your definition of "criteria" makes a bit more sense to me now...I think.

    And everything that physically exists is changing.Sapientia

    So that's everything then. :)

    But I don't understand your confusion, nor why you don't find my explanation coherent.Sapientia

    It's confusing because as I said there's a more straightforward way of making that claim, rather than saying something like "it's the truth that this statement about this fact is true". Using "truth" and "true" in that statement just seems redundant to me. Otherwise, it seems like "truth" is being used like a fact, as in, "it's a fact that this statement about this fact is true".

    Yes, that's what I mean...what makes a statement true or false is that someone is judging that statement to be true or false. — numberjohnny5


    Oh dear. No, that is not the case at all. That's a kind of idealism which I strongly reject. It's odd, because some of the things you've said make me think that you're a realist like me, but then you come out with a bombshell like that.
    Sapientia

    I don't know why what I said there makes you think I'm an idealist. I am a realist on some things, but I'm an anti-realist on some things, like abstract objects. Also, I've checked and it seems that, standardly in analytic philosophy, (propositional) statements involve an individual judging statements to be true or false. But then, if you're an externalist and you believe things like concepts are mind-independent once they've been conceived, you would disagree. I'd guess you're a realist about abstract objects too.

    What makes a statement like, "Earth preexisted us", true or false, is whether or not Earth preexisted us - which has nothing whatsoever to do with anyone judging any statement to be true or false.Sapientia

    There is a relationship between statements and facts. What makes that relationship is individuals/minds using statements to refer to facts. Objective facts don't literally make that relationship, because they aren't individuals/minds--they don't have things like intentions or will. That's the purpose of propositional statements: they refer to things; and minds judge whether those statements accurately refer to facts or not. What else is going to judge whether a statement is true or not? The non-mental objects/events/facts can't, can they? If there was no one around to observe facts and to make judgements about them in the form of statements, the facts would still obtain, but there would be no true or false because truth is a property of propositions only. No minds, no truth.

    Furthermore, I think we have to be careful about how we use/interpret language because it can mislead us into mistaken views. Facts don't actually "make" statements true or false. That's just a manner of speaking. Facts are observed and judged to be facts (via statements/propositions) by individuals/minds.

    My understanding was that we're talking about statements in general, not restricting the conversation in that manner, which conveniently suits your argument. Why would you do that?Sapientia

    I think that's because statements don't inherently contain meaning, so it would only be relevant to discuss statements that we think and utter ourselves, or when we assign meaning onto written statements of some medium. Apart from that, it could be an assumption I made that I wasn't aware of.

    Bear in mind my view of "truth" is not conventional. When you say "true statement", I parse that as a person judging that statement to be true (about something). — numberjohnny5


    Why would you do that? :angry:

    The convention makes sense. You shouldn't diverge from it. That's going to cause more problems than it solves.
    Sapientia

    Yeh, I checked and it seems I'm not using an unconventional definition of "truth" re propositions afterall. Oops. Still learning.

    Btw, some conventions make sense, some don't, right? So I wouldn't stick to a convention unless I agreed with it. I think it's useful to be aware of conventions in general though so as to have a reference frame from which to discuss this stuff.

    For example, I parse the statement, "the Earth preexisted us" as "the statement 'the Earth preexisted us' is true". — numberjohnny5


    But why? Don't.

    Do you parse cats as dogs and up as down?
    Sapientia

    Those examples aren't equivalent to my statement. Is your statement, "The Earth preexisted us" a true statement because it refers to past facts?

    I think what you really mean is "assertion" or "claim". Statements are broader and more ambiguous. But again, judgement is only necessary in past tense, not present tense i.e. there must have been a judgement, but there doesn't have to be one.Sapientia

    What I mean by "judgement" is an evaluation and psychological commitment towards the relationship between a statement and how it refers to the facts. E.g. I evaluate whether a statement refers to the facts accurately (via acquaintance knowledge), and if I believe the correspondence is accurate, then I commit myself to a truth-value, namely, "true" or "false".

    Also, I make a distinction between "statement" and "sentence". I take "sentence" to be a broader class in which things like statements, questions, instructions, and exclamations exist.

    Here's some references I use (The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, by Honderich):

    "Most modern logicians maintain that statements are distinct
    from sentences, citing the fact that not all sentences are used to make statements or arguing
    that the same statement may be expressed by different sentences. Some use 'statement' and
    'proposition' interchangeably, regarding them as alternative names for what is 'expressed'
    by an indicative sentence or 'asserted' when such a sentence is used. Others distinguish
    between the two, so that a proposition is what is asserted when such a sentence is used to
    make a statement."

    "The term 'truth' seems to denote a property, one which is also expressed by the truth-predicate 'is true'. But if so, of what is truth a property? What are the primary 'bearers' of
    truth, and of its counterpart, falsity? At least three candidates can be put forward:
    sentences, statements, and propositions. Loosely, a sentence is a linguistic token or type,
    such as the string of written words 'This is red'. A statement is the assertoric use of a
    sentence by a speaker on a particular occasion. A proposition is what is asserted when a
    statement is made—its 'content'. Thus two different speakers, or the same speaker on two
    different occasions, may assert the same proposition by making two different statements,
    perhaps using sentences of two different languages."


    Truth-value doesn't hinge on judgement of truth-value. For a statement to have truth-value, it need only be meaningful.Sapientia

    I don't think that's sufficient. Any statement can be interpreted meaningfully in numerous ways, since meaning is subjective.

    And, for the kind of statements that we've been talking about to be true, they'd need to correspond with facts which reflect them.Sapientia

    Yes, and individuals/minds are the ones that refer or do the corresponding. The facts don't do anything but "sit" there.

    Your conclusion doesn't follow, because statements aren't limited to being those which "occur" in the present, in the form of thoughts expressed verbally (which are arguably "mental events").Sapientia

    It would also apply to individuals presently assigning meaning onto statements inscribed on some medium in the past.

    Your view is unreasonably narrow, and it seems as though you've purposefully made it that way, because making it that way will give you your desired conclusion.Sapientia

    Maybe. Do you think you could be wrong about that, or that there might be other explanations?

    What you're doing seems to be fallacious along the lines of begging the question or moving the goalposts.Sapientia

    I think a lot of what's going on is that we obviously don't share similar views about how to use terms conventionally. But more than that, a lot of these views are based on implicit ontological beliefs that influence our explicit views and understandings. It's not necessarily a fallacious issue.

    Let me try to clear this up. In my ontology, all existents/events are facts--they're actual/real. There are non-mental facts, like trees, rocks, stars, and so on. There are mental facts, like thoughts and perceptual experiences. "Truth" is a type of mental fact. — numberjohnny5


    But that's just wrong. Why would you do that?
    Sapientia

    Err...because I think I'm right?

    Okay, but then your view is wrong.Sapientia

    Or not.
  • S
    9.8k
    If a cat has been classified as feline, then, accordingly, a cat is feline, and that's that.Sapientia

    A cat is thought of as feline always to someone.numberjohnny5

    Yes, but that's changing the topic from when a cat is feline to when a cat is thought of as feline. And, obviously, if you change the premise by inserting some kind of subjective activity, like being thought of, then that's going to necessitate a subject. You won't get any disagreement from me there. I'll just note that that doesn't address the topic. To make it on topic, you'd have to bring out a hidden premise to connect what I've said with what you've said, and 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". But the perception part is an unnecessary addition which Occam's razor can cut out. A cat is a feline because it has been classified as such, and that's a sufficient explanation.

    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.

    A cat's classification is reinforced by others thinking about a cat as feline.numberjohnny5

    This so-called reinforcement is not necessary. It suggests some sort of post hoc confirmation. But, of course, if a cat is feline, then a cat is feline. That's logical and indisputable. And what determines whether or not a cat feline? Why, whether or not it has been classified as such, of course. There's no additional step required for a cat to be feline. There's no timer, no expiration date, and no need for confirmation. That's entirely in your imagination, and it's illogical. It's a result of misapplying psychology to matters of logic. This isn't an enquiry into human understanding. It's about an objective logical relationship.

    Classifications don't make sense outside of mental events.numberjohnny5

    Oh yes they do. On the contrary, they wouldn't make sense without the "outside of". It's your idealist reductionism which turns it into something which clashes with good sense. Whatever appeal there is to this view is deceptive. 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.

    We assign/impose concepts upon things.numberjohnny5

    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.

    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.

    That's just weird to me.numberjohnny5

    But it's just logic. It's weird to me that it's weird to you. The classification was, remains to be, and - all else being equal - will be going forward, that cats are feline. In light of that classification, if there's a cat, then it's feline. Now, why would that require actual cats or people, bearing in mind that the classification has already been made? The answer is that it wouldn't. That's not how logic works. But you need it to be otherwise for your argument to work, so you posit a fake requirement, and hey presto!

    Again, that's just a bizarre thing to me. Interesting to know though. I'm curious what "concepts" are ontologically for you?numberjohnny5

    Again, I don't like that question, because I'm not quite sure what it is you're asking. It's vague and unspecific. If, on the other hand, you were to ask me whether they're this or that...?

    Also, hypothetically, or for the sake of argument, if concepts are thoughts, do you think that thoughts "pop in and out of existence"?numberjohnny5

    I think that "thoughts" is ambiguous. So, it depends. In a sense, yes. In another sense, no. My thoughts on the ethics of the death penalty haven't changed for quite some time. I'm still against it, and I remain against it, even when I'm not thinking about it. There's a sustainability there, and a kind of transcendence. Yet, nevertheless, it seems as though there's another side to thought, whereby thoughts just pop in and out of my head, like what shift I'm working tomorrow, or what to have for dinner. There's more of an instantaneity there, and a proximity to thinking.

    Well, as we all have different ontologies, I'm sure it doesn't make sense to you. In my view, things are happening/being in some way, some more dynamic than others. Nouns and verbs can be useful, but are just ways of parsing and organising experience. Remember that old thing you said? The map ain't the territory.numberjohnny5

    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?

    There is a relationship between statements and facts. What makes that relationship is individuals/minds using statements to refer to facts. Objective facts don't literally make that relationship, because they aren't individuals/minds--they don't have things like intentions or will. That's the purpose of propositional statements: they refer to things; and minds judge whether those statements accurately refer to facts or not. What else is going to judge whether a statement is true or not? The non-mental objects/events/facts can't, can they? If there was no one around to observe facts and to make judgements about them in the form of statements, the facts would still obtain, but there would be no true or false because truth is a property of propositions only. No minds, no truth.numberjohnny5

    Sigh... I feel like this is going around in circles to some degree. It might be time to just agree to disagree and move on.

    To be clear, I don't agree that there would be no truth-values, because truth-values are properties of meaningful statements, and there would be meaningful statements, which is to say that there would be statements, at least some of which would have a meaning, even if no one were there to understand it; and that, if there were someone there, then they could, with a sufficient understanding of the language, understand it. Just because someone is required for the creation of a meaningful statement, and to understand it, and to judge its truth-value, it doesn't follow that someone is required for it to exist and to exist as a meaningful statement. That's the sort of fallacy that crops up in idealist thinking.

    Note that I reject any interpretation of "statement" that would necessitate someone being there at the time making any kind of judgement about it. That would be to confuse what's required for understanding with what's required for existence, which is in essence the fallacy that idealists make. And that would also be begging the question, as the conclusion would be inherent within the premise. Your argument would be trivially true and unpersuasive to anyone who doesn't already share your view.

    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.
    Q.E.D.

    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 judgement

    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.

    These minds of ours are seemingly capable of deceiving us into thinking that their place in the world is more important than it actually is. Fortunately for me, I'm a wise old owl who can see things as they are. You jelly?

    Question: Are some people better than others?

    Answer: Yes, I'm better than all of you.
  • iolo
    40
    If you want to make any absolute comparisons between people, surely, you have first to decide what people are FOR. In the long run, what is there to be perfect AT, except rotting?
  • numberjohnny5
    177
    Sir2uSir2u

    I've been pondering about our debate to try and understand it more clearly. I think we're talking about different things.

    I think you're basically saying that we can't make verifiable claims about events/circumstances if we haven't experienced those events/circumstances.

    I'm saying that the kinds of things that objective events are ontologically doesn't hinge on subjective mental states (like experiencing those events, making claims about them, etc.) for them to be the kinds of things that they are. They are the kinds of things that they are whether we experience them or not. So I'm saying that "facts" as objective events are mind-independent. That's a different claim than the one you're putting forward, which is based on a different definition of "fact" I think you're using.

    I'm using the standard philosophical definition of "fact". I think you're using a general or non-philosophical definition of "fact", like this one: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/fact

    I would agree that we can't make (provisionally) verifiable (or falsifiable) claims about events/circumstances if we (a) haven't experienced those events directly, or (b) haven't experienced/learnt about those events indirectly. But that's not a claim against what I'm saying about objective facts being mind-independent.
  • Sir2u
    1.7k
    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
    177
    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.
    Sapientia

    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.
    Q.E.D.
    Sapientia

    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
    177
    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.
    Sir2u

    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
    1.7k
    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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