328 pp., 6 x 9 in, 5 b&w illus.
- Published: July 10, 2015
- Publisher: The MIT Press
An argument that the major metaphysical theories of facts give us no good reason to accept facts in our catalog of the world.
In this book Arianna Betti argues that we have no good reason to accept facts in our catalog of the world, at least as they are described by the two major metaphysical theories of facts. She claims that neither of these theories is tenable—neither the theory according to which facts are special structured building blocks of reality nor the theory according to which facts are whatever is named by certain expressions of the form “the fact that such and such.” There is reality, and there are entities in reality that we are able to name, but, Betti contends, among these entities there are no facts.
Drawing on metaphysics, the philosophy of language, and linguistics, Betti examines the main arguments in favor of and against facts of the two major sorts, which she distinguishes as compositional and propositional, giving special attention to methodological presuppositions. She criticizes compositional facts (facts as special structured building blocks of reality) and the central argument for them, Armstrong's truthmaker argument. She then criticizes propositional facts (facts as whatever is named in “the fact that” statements) and what she calls the argument from nominal reference, which draws on Quine's criterion of ontological commitment. Betti argues that metaphysicians should stop worrying about facts, and philosophers in general should stop arguing for or against entities on the basis of how we use language.
Everything you always wanted to know about 'facts,' the unity of the proposition, etc. A must-read for anyone interested in basic metaphysical or metaphilosophical issues.
François Recanati, Institut Jean-Nicod, Paris
In this book, Betti makes a thoroughly argued case against facts as entities playing a role in ontology, including the ontology apparently reflected in language. This challenging and brilliantly argued book needs to be taken seriously by anyone engaged in any of the many philosophical debates in which facts play a central role.
Friederike Moltmann, Research Director, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique; Visiting Researcher, Department of Philosophy, New York University
This is analytic metaphysics at its best. Contrary to much contemporary thinking, Against Facts argues that we have no good reasons to take facts seriously, let alone to think it a truism that the world contains such things. The starting point is the view that philosophers, more generally, should resist drawing ontological inferences from the way we use language, beginning with the inference that there must be facts because we sometimes speak truly. If you agree with the conclusion, this is the book you have been waiting for. If you are skeptical about the premise, this book will make you think twice.
Achille C. Varzi, Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University