[quickphilosophy] Re: 1.12; 1.13; 1.2 & 1.21

  • From: wittrsl@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • To: quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 08 Sep 2010 11:01:13 -0000

--- In quickphilosophy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, Martin Brampton <martin.lists@...> 
> It's tendentious to introduce foundationalism.  (Is there a coherent 
> doctrine that falls under that title?  Isn't the belief that statements 
> are made true by "facts" a kind of foundationalism?)

I think Susan Haack's 'foundherentism' is a coherent doctrine (no pun 
intended!).  I think it allows for truth-making by facts without there being 
any sort of "ultimate warrant" that cannot be questioned.

> An explanation works only if it uses terms that are understood by all 
> relevant parties.  This is true even if someone is a foundationalist. 
> Unless you are supposing that a foundationalist must also be a 
> thoroughgoing sceptic, then presumably even foundationalists understand 
> some terms.

Yes, I don't see why foundationalists mustn't understand any terms.

> The trouble is, I don't even know what "facts" are being claimed to be, 
> if they aren't true statements (which is what the dictionary tells me 
> they are).  

I think that's a bad definition.  Here are some better ones, from 

something that actually exists; reality; truth: Your fears have no basis in 
something known to exist or to have happened: Space travel is now a fact.
a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true: 
Scientists gather facts about plant growth.
something said to be true or supposed to have happened: The facts given by the 
witness are highly questionable.
Law . Often, facts. an actual or alleged event or circumstance, as 
distinguished from its legal effect or consequence. Compare question of fact, 
question of law.

> Is there a word that is generally agreed to cover what, if 
> anything, makes statements true?
> The deeper trouble is that the assumption of the existence of "facts" 
> that are not simply true statements involves layers of philosophical 
> assumptions - it can't be taken as an innocent assumption of an obvious 
> neutral starting point.
> As witnessed by the possibility of there being people who can't see any 
> meaning to claims that "facts" make statements true.  Since the TLP 
> doesn't unpack the philosophical assumptions in which it is couched (and 
> indeed leaves them obscure) it is hard to know what, if anything, it 
> tells us.  As witnessed by the volume of commentary and the lack of much 
> agreement on major points!
> If a theory is not evaluable through some kind of rational discussion, 
> is it a viable theory?

I don't know of any important work of philosophy that hasn't produced a volume 
of commentary.  I don't think that alone should be considered a sort of 
condemnation.  It's clearly hard to understand, and at times seems 
intentionally obscure, but I think that's also true of Kant.  And Aristotle is 
no day at the beach, either, IMO.


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