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Summary Many metaphysicians have argued that there exist facts, or states of affairs, such as the fact that Bertie is a beagle. Such facts are not linguistic entities, like sentences or propositions, but rather substantial parts of concrete reality. On some views, the fact that Bertie is a beagle involves Bertie himself and the property of being a beagle. Facts have played a prominent role in metaphysical theories, including in Russell's and Wittgenstein's logical atomism. According to many metaphysicians, facts play a crucial role in grounding truths. It is the existence of the fact that Bertie is adorable that makes the corresponding sentence or proposition true. Neither Bertie on his own nor Bertie plus property is a sufficient truthmaker, since Bertie might not have been adorable.
Key works Wittgenstein et al 1922 and Russell 1940 put facts front-and-center in their logical atomist metaphysics, but disagreed about their nature. Skyrms 1981 develops Wittgenstein’s approach to facts. Armstrong 1996 is a key recent work on facts (which Armstrong calls ‘states of affairs’) and their role in metaphysics. Neale 2001 is an extended argument against the existence of facts, based on the slingshot argument; Restall 2004 is a response to Neale’s argument. Zalta 1993 gives an account of facts based on his theory of abstract objects.
Introductions Textor forthcoming is an encyclopaedia-length article on states of affairs. Chapter 8 of Armstrong 1996 is more partisan but clearly conveys the metaphysical importance of states of affairs.
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  1. Searle’s Contradictory Theory of Social Reality.Danny Frederick - manuscript
    John Searle, in several articles and books, has contended that institutions incorporating status functions with deontic powers are created by collective acceptance that is not analysable into individual acceptance. I point out three self-contradictions in Searle’s exposition.
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  2. Surveying the Facts.Guy Longworth - 2015
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  3. Comment on Lowe's" Structural Model"[with Rejoinder].Gerhard Colm & Adolph Lowe - forthcoming - Social Research: An International Quarterly.
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  4. The Question of Iterated Causation.David Mark Kovacs - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    This paper is about what I call the Question of Iterated Causation (QIC): for any instance of causation in which c1…ck cause effect e, what are the causes of c1…ck’s causing of e? In short: what causes instances of causation or, as I will refer to these instances, the “causal goings‐on”? A natural response (which I call “dismissivism”) is that this is a bad question because causal goings‐on aren’t apt to be caused. After rebutting several versions of dismissivism, I consider (...)
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  5. States of Affairs.Mark Textor - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  6. Generality.Nils Kürbis - 2022 - In Nils Kürbis, Jonathan Nassim & Bahram Assadian (eds.), Knowledge, Number and Reality. Encounters with the Work of Keith Hossack. London: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 161-176.
    Hossack's 'The Metaphysics of Knowledge' develops a theory of facts, entities in which universals are combined with universals or particulars, as the foundation of his metaphysics. While Hossack argues at length that there must be negative facts, facts in which the universal 'negation' is combined with universals or particulars, his conclusion that there are also general facts, facts in which the universal 'generality' is combined with universals, is reached rather more swiftly. In this paper I present Hossack with three arguments (...)
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  7. Introduction to Knowledge, Number and Reality. Encounters with the Work of Keith Hossack.Nils Kürbis, Jonathan Nassim & Bahram Assadian - 2022 - In Nils Kürbis, Jonathan Nassim & Bahram Assadian (eds.), Knowledge, Number and Reality. Encounters with the Work of Keith Hossack. London: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 1-30.
    The Introduction to "Knowledge, Number and Reality. Encounters with the Work of Keith Hossack" provides an overview over Hossack's work and the contributions to the volume.
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  8. A Problem for Immanent Universals in States of Affairs.Michael J. Raven - 2022 - American Philosophical Quarterly 59 (1):1-9.
    This paper raises a problem for the pair of views that universals are immanent in their instantiations and that these instantiations, or states of affairs, are somehow constructed from the instantiated universals. It is argued that the pair is inconsistent. The first view implies that universals are prior to states of affairs, whereas the second view implies that states of affairs are prior to universals. This paper does not attempt to solve this problem, but rather to formulate it precisely. That (...)
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  9. The Distinct Existences Argument Revisited.Wolfgang Barz - 2021 - Synthese (3-4):1-21.
    The aim of this paper is to take a fresh look at a discussion about the distinct existences argument that took place between David Armstrong and Frank Jackson more than fifty years ago. I will try to show that Armstrong’s argument can be successfully defended against Jackson’s objections (albeit at the price of certain concessions concerning Armstrong’s view on the meaning of psychological terms as well as his conception of universals). Focusing on two counterexamples that Jackson put forward against Hume’s (...)
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  10. Introduction to the Ontology of Knowledge Iss. 20211125.Jean-Louis Boucon - 2021 - Philpapers.
    We can only know what determines us as being and by the fact that it determines us as being. Our knowledge is therefore logically limited to what determines us as being. Since representation is defined as the act that makes knowledge dicible, our representation is logically limited to what dynamically determines us as being. Our representation is included in our becoming. Nothing that we represent, no infinite, can exceed the mere necessity of our becoming. The world, my physical being and (...)
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  11. Why Is There Something, Rather Than Nothing?Sean M. Carroll - 2021 - In Eleanor Knox & Alastair Wilson (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Physics.
    It seems natural to ask why the universe exists at all. Modern physics suggests that the universe can exist all by itself as a self-contained system, without anything external to create or sustain it. But there might not be an absolute answer to why it exists. I argue that any attempt to account for the existence of something rather than nothing must ultimately bottom out in a set of brute facts; the universe simply is, without ultimate cause or explanation.
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  12. How (Not) to Construct Worlds with Responsibility.Fabio Lampert & Pedro Merlussi - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):10389-10413.
    In a recent article, P. Roger Turner and Justin Capes argue that no one is, or ever was, even partly morally responsible for certain world-indexed truths. Here we present our reasons for thinking that their argument is unsound: It depends on the premise that possible worlds are maximally consistent states of affairs, which is, under plausible assumptions concerning states of affairs, demonstrably false. Our argument to show this is based on Bertrand Russell’s original ‘paradox of propositions’. We should then opt (...)
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  13. Higher‐Order Metaphysics.Lukas Skiba - 2021 - Wiley: Philosophy Compass 16 (10):1-11.
    Subverting a once widely held Quinean paradigm, there is a growing consensus among philosophers of logic that higher-order quantifiers (which bind variables in the syntactic position of predicates and sentences) are a perfectly legitimate and useful instrument in the logico-philosophical toolbox, while neither being reducible to nor fully explicable in terms of first-order quantifiers (which bind variables in singular term position). This article discusses the impact of this quantificational paradigm shift on metaphysics, focussing on theories of properties, propositions, and identity, (...)
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  14. Events.Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi - 2020 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    A critical survey of the main philosophical theories about events and event talk, organized in three main sections: (i) Events and Other Categories (Events vs. Objects; Events vs. Facts; Events vs. Properties; Events vs. Times); (ii) Types of Events (Activities, Accomplishments, Achievements, and States; Static and Dynamic Events; Actions and Bodily Movements; Mental and Physical Events; Negative Events); (iii) Existence, Identity, and Indeterminacy.
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  15. Are Institutions Created by Collective Acceptance?Danny Frederick - 2020 - Journal of Value Inquiry 54 (3):443-455.
    John Searle, in several articles and books, has contended that institutions incorporating status functions with deontic powers are created by collective acceptance. I argue that collective acceptance can create new status functions with deontic powers only if other status functions with deontic powers already exist, so that collective acceptance can create new institutions only if other institutions are presupposed. So, the claim that institutions depend upon collective acceptance involves a vicious infinite regress. I provide an example to show how an (...)
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  16. Are Institutions Created by Collective Acceptance?Danny Frederick - 2020 - Journal of Value Inquiry 54 (3):443-455.
    John Searle, in several articles and books, has contended that institutions incorporating status functions with deontic powers are created by collective acceptance. I argue that collective acceptance can create new status functions with deontic powers only if other status functions with deontic powers already exist, so that collective acceptance can create new institutions only if other institutions are presupposed. So, the claim that institutions depend upon collective acceptance involves a vicious infinite regress. I provide an example to show how an (...)
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  17. Starting Rational Reconstruction of Spinoza's Metaphysics by "a Formal Analogy to Elements of 'de Deo' (E1)".Friedrich Wilhelm Grafe - 2020 - Archive.Org.
    We aim to compile some means for a rational reconstruction of a named part of the start-over of Baruch (Benedictus) de Spinoza's metaphysics in 'de deo' (which is 'pars prima' of the 'ethica, ordine geometrico demonstrata' ) in terms of 1st order model theory. In so far, as our approach will be judged successful, it may, besides providing some help in understanding Spinoza, also contribute to the discussion of some or other philosophical evergreen, e.g. 'ontological commitment'. For this text we (...)
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  18. Truthmakers for 1st Order Sentences - a Proposal.Friedrich Wilhelm Grafe - 2020 - Archive.Org.
    The purpose of this paper is to communicate - as a proposal - a general method of assigning a 'truthmaker' to any 1st order sentence in each of its models. The respective construct is derived from the standard model theoretic (recursive) satisfaction definition for 1st order languages and is a conservative extension thereof. The heuristics of the proposal (which has been somewhat idiosyncratic from the current point of view) and some more technical detail of the construction may be found in (...)
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  19. Physical Processes, Their Life and Their History.Gilles Kassel - 2020 - Applied ontology 15 (2):109-133.
    Here, I lay the foundations of a high-level ontology of particulars whose structuring principles differ radically from the 'continuant' vs. 'occurrent' distinction traditionally adopted in applied ontology. These principles are derived from a new analysis of the ontology of “occurring” or “happening” entities. Firstly, my analysis integrates recent work on the ontology of processes, which brings them closer to objects in their mode of existence and persistence by assimilating them to continuant particulars. Secondly, my analysis distinguishes clearly between processes and (...)
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  20. A State-of-Affairs-Semantic Solution to the Problem of Extensionality in Free Logic.Hans-Peter Leeb - 2020 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 49 (6):1091-1109.
    If one takes seriously the idea that a scientific language must be extensional, and accepts Quine’s notion of truth-value-related extensionality, and also recognizes that a scientific language must allow for singular terms that do not refer to existing objects, then there is a problem, since this combination of assumptions must be inconsistent. I will argue for a particular solution to the problem, namely, changing what is meant by the word ‘extensionality’, so that it would not be the truth-value that had (...)
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  21. Existence Predicates.Friederike Moltmann - 2020 - Synthese 197 (1):311-335.
    Natural languages generally distinguishes among different existence predicates for different types of entities, such as English 'exist', 'occur', and 'obtain'. The paper gives an in-depth discussion and analysis of a range of existence predicates in natural language within the general project of descriptive metaphysics, or more specifically ‘natural language ontology’.
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  22. J. M. Bocheński's Understanding of the World and Logical Albebraic Structures.Wybraniec-Skardowska Urszula - 2020 - Edukacja Filozoficzna 70 (5):81-92.
    This work will focus on Józef Maria Bocheński’s inclination towards seeing the world and its logical structure from the point of view of ontology. In section 2, we shall discuss the perception of the world deriving from Bocheński, while in the third section – issues of its logical structure will be dealt with. In section 4, we will present a formal framework of the structure of the world.
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  23. Do We See Facts?Alfredo Vernazzani - 2020 - Mind and Language.
    Philosophers of perception frequently assume that we see actual states of affairs, or facts. Call this claim factualism. In his book, William Fish suggests that factualism is supported by phenomenological observation as well as by experimental studies on multiple object tracking and dynamic feature-object integration. In this paper, I examine the alleged evidence for factualism, focusing mainly on object detection and tracking. I argue that there is no scientific evidence for factualism. This conclusion has implications for studies on the phenomenology (...)
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  24. Reasons Why Not - On the Positive Grounds of Negative Truths.Julio De Rizzo - 2019 - Stuttgart, Deutschland: Metzler Verlag/ Springer.
    Many philosophers have shown sympathy to the thought that reality is fundamentally positive. Julio De Rizzo formulates this idea precisely by means of the notion of grounding, and examines how the resulting thesis fares with respect to three much discussed classes of negative truths, namely that of negative predications, that of negative causal reports, and that of negative existential truths. By shedding light on the issues advocates of the thesis have to deal with, this work shows the positivist account to (...)
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  25. O fundamentach dla metafizycznego fundowania.Karol Lenart - 2019 - Analiza I Egzystencja 45 (2019):5-24.
    In this article I defend a view according to which facts that express metaphysical grounding are grounded in essences of properties involved into a given grounding relationship. To justify this view, first, I present some reasons for a claim that metaphysical grounding is grounded. In the next step I discuss two theories that explain what are the grounds for grounding: a theory that involves a notion of a superinternal relation and a theory that uses a notion of essences of properties. (...)
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  26. Grounding and Anchoring: On the Structure of Epstein’s Social Ontology.Mari Mikkola - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (2):198-216.
    ABSTRACTBrian Epstein’s The Ant Trap is a praiseworthy addition to literature on social ontology and the philosophy of social sciences. Its central aim is to challenge received views about the social world – views with which social scientists and philosophers have aimed to answer questions about the nature of social science and about those things that social sciences aim to model and explain, like social facts, objects and phenomena. The received views that Epstein critiques deal with these issues in an (...)
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  27. Situations, Alternatives, and the Semantics of 'Cases'.Friederike Moltmann - 2019 - Linguistics and Philosophy (1):1-41.
    This paper presents a systematic semantic study of constructions with the noun 'case'. It argues that 'cases' are situations acting as truthmakers within a sentential or epistemic case space. It develops a truthmaker-based alternative semantics of 'case'-constructions, based on Fine's recent truthmaker semantics.
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  28. On the Explanatory Demands of the Special Composition Question.Joshua Spencer - 2019 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 18):4375-4388.
    The Special Composition Question may be formulated as follows: for any xs whatsoever, what are the metaphysically necessary and jointly sufficient conditions in virtue of which there is a y such that those xs compose y? But what is the scope of the sought after explanation? Should an answer merely explain compositional facts, or should it explain certain ontological facts as well? On one natural reading, the question seeks an explanation of both the compositional facts and the ontological; the question (...)
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  29. Reasons and Beliefs.Attila Tanyi & Matteo Morganti - 2019 - Journal of Philosophical Research 44:179-196.
    The present paper identifies a challenge for a certain view of practical reasons, according to which practical reasons (both normative and motivating) are states of affairs. The problem is that those who endorse such a view seem forced to maintain both a) that the contents of beliefs are states of affairs and b) that the conception according to which the contents of beliefs are states of affairs is outlandish. The suggestion is put forward that, by distinguishing the content of a (...)
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  30. Estructura.Axel Barceló - 2018 - Enciclopedia de Filosofía SEFA.
    1. La estructura como problema filosófico 2. Teorías metafísicas de la estructura 2.1. La concepción intrínseca de la estructura 2.2. Como parte sui-generis 2.3. La concepción extrínseca de la estructura 3. Conclusiones Referencias.
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  31. Fact Fusion, Fact Fission, and the Slingshot.Justin Robert Clarke - 2018 - Philosophical Forum 49 (2):261-277.
    If certain versions of the correspondence theory of truth are correct, then truth can be informatively defined as correspondence to facts; facts would be truth-makers, and we could explain truth in terms of truth-bearers, correspondence, and truth-makers. I explain how slingshot arguments work generally, as collapsing arguments (regardless of their targets). Working through the slingshots of Davidson, and Gödel, I claim that Davidson’s slingshot involves dubitable premises, but that Gödel’s slingshot is terminal to certain versions of the correspondence theory, as (...)
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  32. Agglomerative Algebras.Jeremy Goodman - 2018 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 48 (4):631-648.
    This paper investigates a generalization of Boolean algebras which I call agglomerative algebras. It also outlines two conceptions of propositions according to which they form an agglomerative algebra but not a Boolean algebra with respect to conjunction and negation.
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  33. The Facts in Logical Space By Jason Turner. [REVIEW]Luca Incurvati - 2018 - Analysis 78 (2):367-371.
    This is a review of 'The Facts in Logical Space' by Jason Turner.
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  34. What Truth Is.Mark Jago - 2018 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Mark Jago presents and defends a novel theory of what truth is, in terms of the metaphysical notion of truthmaking. This is the relation which holds between a truth and some entity in the world, in virtue of which that truth is true. By coming to an understanding of this relation, he argues, we gain better insight into the metaphysics of truth. The first part of the book discusses the property being true, and how we should understand it in terms (...)
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  35. Molnar on Truthmakers for Negative Truths.Nils Kürbis - 2018 - Metaphysica 19 (2):251-257.
    Molnar argues that the problem of truthmakers for negative truths arises because we tend to accept four metaphysical principles that entail that all negative truths have positive truthmakers. This conclusion, however, already follows from only three of Molnar´s metaphysical principles. One purpose of this note is to set the record straight. I provide an alternative reading of two of Molnar´s principles on which they are all needed to derive the desired conclusion. Furthermore, according to Molnar, the four principles may be (...)
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  36. Surveying the Facts.Guy Longworth - 2018 - In John Collins & Tamara Dobler (eds.), The Philosophy of Charles Travis: Language, Thought, and Perception. Oxford: OUP.
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  37. The Interplay Between Models and Observations.Claudio Masolo, Alessander Botti Benevides & Daniele Porello - 2018 - Applied ontology 13 (1):41-71.
    We propose a formal framework to examine the relationship between models and observations. To make our analysis precise,models are reduced to first-order theories that represent both terminological knowledge – e.g., the laws that are supposed to regulate the domain under analysis and that allow for explanations, predictions, and simulations – and assertional knowledge – e.g., information about specific entities in the domain of interest. Observations are introduced into the domain of quantification of a distinct first-order theory that describes their nature (...)
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  38. Metaphysics of States of Affairs: Truthmaking, Universals, and a Farewell to Bradley’s Regress.Bo R. Meinertsen - 2018 - Springer Singapore.
    This book addresses the metaphysics of Armstrongian states of affairs, i.e. instantiations of naturalist universals by particulars. The author argues that states of affairs are the best candidate for truthmakers and, in the spirit of logical atomism, that we need no molecular truthmakers for positive truths. In the book's context, this has the pleasing result that there are no molecular states of affairs. Following this account of truthmaking, the author first shows that the particulars in (first-order) states of affairs are (...)
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  39. The Facts in Logical Space. [REVIEW]Alessandro Torza - 2018 - Philosophical Review 127 (2):273-277.
  40. A Description Logic Based Knowledge Representation Model for Concept Understanding.Farshad Badie - 2017 - In Jasper van den Herik, A. Rocha & J. Filipe (eds.), Agents and Artificial Intelligence. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.
    This research employs Description Logics in order to focus on logical description and analysis of the phenomenon of ‘concept understanding’. The article will deal with a formal-semantic model for figuring out the underlying logical assumptions of ‘concept understanding’ in knowledge representation systems. In other words, it attempts to describe a theoretical model for concept understanding and to reflect the phenomenon of ‘concept understanding’ in terminological knowledge representation systems. Finally, it will design an ontology that schemes the structure of concept understanding (...)
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  41. How Fine-Grained is Reality?Peter Fritz - 2017 - Filosofisk Supplement 13 (2):52-57.
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  42. Propositions as Truthmaker Conditions.Mark Jago - 2017 - Argumenta 2 (2):293-308.
    Propositions are often aligned with truth-conditions. The view is mistaken, since propositions discriminate where truth conditions do not. Propositions are hyperintensional: they are sensitive to necessarily equivalent differences. I investigate an alternative view on which propositions are truthmaker conditions, understood as sets of possible truthmakers. This requires making metaphysical sense of merely possible states of affairs. The theory that emerges illuminates the semantic phenomena of samesaying, subject matter, and aboutness.
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  43. Are There States of Affairs? Yes.Daniel Nolan - 2017 - In Elizabeth Barnes (ed.), Current Controversies in Metaphysics. New York: Routledge Press. pp. 81-91.
    This paper makes a case that we should believe in the existence of worldly states of affairs.
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  44. From Falsemakers to Negative Properties.Michele Paolini Paoletti - 2017 - Theoria 83 (1):53-77.
    I shall argue in this article that, if we need to admit of negative facts 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 negative facts and I shall demonstrate that each alternative – except for the one involving negative properties – is affected by some problems. Later on, I shall (...)
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  45. Bradley's Regress.Katarina Perovic - 2017 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  46. Eidos, fatto, possibilità. Aspetti del rapporto tra scienza e fatticità in Husserl.Francesco Pisano - 2017 - In Antonio Branca (ed.), Possibilità. Dell'uomo e delle cose. Roma RM, Italia: pp. 37-61.
  47. Truth and Dependence.Jonathan Tallant & David Ingram - 2017 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 4:955-980.
    Truths depend upon what there is. So say many. A significant subset of that group say more; they say that the best way—perhaps the only way—to make sense of the claim that truth depends upon what there is, is to adopt a form of truth-maker theory. Truth-maker theorists claim that truths require ground; what’s true must depend upon what there is. Typically, truth-maker theory isn’t seen as a theory about the nature of truth. Rather, it’s seen as a theory about (...)
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  48. Are There Indeterminate States of Affairs? Yes.Jessica M. Wilson - 2017 - In Elizabeth Barnes (ed.), Current Controversies in Metaphysics. Taylor & Francis. pp. 105-125.
    Here I compare two accounts of metaphysical indeterminacy (MI): first, the 'meta-level' approach described by Elizabeth Barnes and Ross Cameron in the companion to this paper, on which every state of affairs (SOA) is itself precise/determinate, and MI is a matter of its being indeterminate which determinate SOA obtains; second, my preferred 'object-level' determinable-based approach, on which MI is a matter of its being determinate---or just plain true---that an indeterminate SOA obtains, where an indeterminate SOA is one whose constitutive object (...)
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  49. Metaphysics and Scientific Realism: Essays in Honour of David Malet Armstrong.Francesco Federico Calemi (ed.) - 2016 - De Gruyter.
    David Malet Armstrong has been one of the most influential contemporary metaphysicians working in the analytic tradition and surely the greatest 20th century Australian philosopher. His main merit is to have reestablished metaphysics as a respectable branch of philosophy placing it at the centre of the philosophical debate, and giving it the status of an authoritative and competent interlocutor of both rational and empirical sciences. By means of a rigorously argumentative approach and a sharp prose, Armstrong has built a whole (...)
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  50. Why Realists Need Tropes.Markku Keinänen, Jani Hakkarainen & Antti Keskinen - 2016 - Metaphysica 17 (1):69-85.
    We argue that if one wishes to be a realist, one should adopt a Neo-Aristotelian ontology involving tropes instead of a Russellian ontology of property universals and objects. Either Russellian realists should adopt the relata-specific relational tropes of instantiation instead of facts, or convert to Neo-Aristotelian realism with monadic tropes. Regarding Neo-Aristotelian realism, we have two novel points why it fares better than Russellian realism. Instantiation of property universals by tropes and characterization or inherence between tropes and objects are more (...)
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