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Re: [ontolog-forum] [ontology-summit] Estimating number of all known fac

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Christopher Menzel <cmenzel@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 24 May 2012 17:35:40 +0200
Message-id: <CAO_JD6NXoCQ6p2iGYFUUFk7n3PNy0WguvGRVGgHT5bD18S=B6w@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
On Thu, May 24, 2012 at 1:52 PM, John Bottoms <john@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

if: 1.  The fact of the state of affairs that really exists.
then how is a fact knowable?
Russell seemed to side step the question of facts by discussing statements of fact or facts as references.

This could not be more incorrect. Russell develops an elaborate (if ultimately unsuccessful) theory of facts, notably in The Philosophy of Logical Atomism, although facts constituted perhaps the most prominent aspect of his ontology and his writings concerning them constituted a substantial portion of his prolific philosophical output throughout his career.
Yet it is Russell's precept (?) that analytic philosophy requires an argument for the existence of...facts.
We all know what we could do with facts; if had one. But without an argument for the existence of fact(s) then it's turtles all the way down.

And on what basis do you argue for the primitive notions in the argument? By this reasoning, "turtles all the way down" is inevitable. The only reasonably persuasive argument for the existence of an entity of a certain kind K is a useful theory of Ks. If the theory is philosophically enlightening or solves problems for you, you've got a good reason to add Ks to your ontology. No one has got any special ontological sixth sense. We argue for the existence of entites in ontology the same way we do in the physical sciences, viz., that they serve a useful explanatory function.
It also appears that Dunn's "facts" and "contingent facts" side steps the issue by creating semantic entities that are not grounded, i.e. "facts describe a possible world". Do facts then only exist in the math of the homunculus?

Dunn's semantics — his notion of a fact in particular — is perfectly rigorous and well-defined. I would recommend studying his paper rather than throwing out unfounded charges and asking cryptic questions.

Chris Menzel

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