Gödel: Facts and Descriptions

Stephen Neale

in Facing Facts

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780199247158
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598081 | DOI:
 Gödel: Facts and Descriptions

Show Summary Details


Sets out Kurt Gödel's slingshot (collapsing) argument. The original argument—or, at least, the premisses of the argument that Neale attributes to Gödel—can be found in a fleeting footnote to a discussion of the relationship between Bertrand Russell's Theory of Descriptions and Theory of Facts. Usually each theory is viewed as quite independent of the other, but Gödel argues otherwise: that the viability of the latter depends upon the viability of the former (or at least upon the viability of some non‐referential theory of descriptions). Neale summarizes Gödel's standpoint as follows: ‘if a true sentence stands for a fact, then in order to avoid the collapse of all facts into one, the friend of facts must give up either (a) an intuitive and straightforward Fregean Principle of Composition or (b) the idea that definite descriptions are expressions that purport to stand for things.’ The sections of the chapter are: Elimination (linguistic and ontological); Facts and Descriptions; Identities in the Matrix; and The Eleatic One (the collapse of all facts into one).

Keywords: collapse of facts; collapsing arguments; Descriptions; Elimination; Facts; Kurt Gödel; Bertrand Russell; Russell's Theory of Descriptions; Russell's Theory of Facts; slingshot arguments; Theory of Descriptions; Theory of Facts

Chapter.  7440 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.