Book

Facing Facts

Stephen Neale

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780199247158
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598081 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199247153.001.0001
Facing Facts

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This book is an original examination of attempts to dislodge a cornerstone of modern philosophy: the idea that our thoughts and utterances are representations of slices of reality. Representations that are accurate are usually said to be true, to correspond to the facts—this is the foundation of correspondence theories of truth. A number of prominent philosophers have tried to undermine the idea that propositions, facts, and correspondence can play any useful role in philosophy, and formal arguments have been advanced to demonstrate that, under seemingly uncontroversial conditions, such entities collapse into an undifferentiated unity. The demise of individual facts is meant to herald the dawn of a new era in philosophy, in which debates about scepticism, realism, subjectivity, representational and computational theories of mind, possible worlds, and divergent conceptual schemes that represent reality in different ways to different persons, periods, or cultures evaporate through lack of subject matter. By carefully untangling a host of intersecting metaphysical, epistemological, semantic, and logical issues, and providing original analyses of key aspects of the work of Donald Davidson, Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, and Kurt Gödel (to each of whom a chapter is dedicated), Stephen Neale demonstrates that arguments for the collapse of facts are considerably more complex and interesting than ever imagined. A number of deep semantic facts emerge along with a powerful proof: while it is technically possible to avoid the collapse of facts, rescue the idea of representations of reality, and thereby face anew the problems raised by the sceptic or the relativist, doing so requires making some tough semantic decisions about predicates and descriptions. It is simply impossible, Neale shows, to invoke representations, facts, states, or propositions without making hard choices—choices that may send many philosophers scurrying back to the drawing board. The book will be crucial to future work in metaphysics, the philosophy of language and mind, and logic, and will have profound implications far beyond.

Keywords: collapse of facts; computational theory of mind; correspondence; Donald Davidson; demise of individual facts; epistemology; facts; Gottlob Frege; Kurt Gödel; logic; metaphysics; modern philosophy; propositions; realism; reality; relativism; representational theory of mind; representations of reality; Bertrand Russell; scepticism; semantics; subjectivity; theories of mind

Book.  220 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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Table of Contents

Extensionality in Facing Facts

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Logical Equivalence in Facing Facts

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