Propositions and Their Neighbours
Loux (Michael)
Source: Loux - Metaphysics - A Contemporary Introduction, Second Edition, 2002, Chapter 4
Paper - Abstract

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  1. Philosophers of a realist bent have frequently denied that properties, kinds, and relations exhaust the abstract entities to which we are committed. They have claimed that there are also propositions. As these philosophers describe them, propositions are language-independent and mind-independent abstract entities that function as the objects of acts of assertion/denial and acts of thinking: they are also the referents of that-clauses; and they are the primary bearers of the truth values and, hence, the things that, in the first instance, enter into logical relations.
  2. Philosophers skeptical of the notion of a proposition have typically wanted to claim that we can accommodate all the phenomena of interest to the realist without introducing propositions into our ontology. One popular strategy here is metalinguistic - to claim that we can handle the propositional attitudes, that-clauses, and the truth values by reference to sentences. Another is that outlined by Arthur Prior, who invokes the redundancy theory of truth and a unique account of verbs of propositional attitude to give the result that talk apparently about propositions is really talk about familiar concrete objects. Still another is Russell's multiple relation theory. More recently, however, philosophers have challenged the traditional doctrine of propositions by calling into question the phenomena that underlie the doctrine.
  3. Other entities postulated by realists include facts, states of affairs, and events.
    • Facts are those things in the world correspondence to which makes a proposition true.
    • States of affairs are situations that have essentially the property of obtaining or failing to obtain; and states of affairs that obtain are said to be facts.
    • Finally, events are things that take place or happen.
    They have been the focus of much recent discussion in metaphysics, and a number of different accounts of their nature and structure are currently being debated.

  1. The traditional theory of propositions
  2. Nominalism about propositions
  3. Facts, states of affairs, and events


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