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Jason Turner’s ‘Introduction’ and ‘Factalism’ in his The Facts in

Logical Space: A Tractarian Ontology

28th February 2018

Inital questions
1. What will be his method to translated object-oriented claims into fact-oriented claims?
2. Does Turner’s view implies that there are only facts, or there are also other objects?
3. Is it problematic to have facts about facts?
4. Are object-oriented and facts-oriented languages just as powerful? Is there one with more expressive
5. What’s the criterion of individuation for facts?
6. What are facts?

• Topic: on the metaphysical picture giving pride of place to facts
• Objective: “to develop the Tractarian metaphysics in a quasi-geometric way: facts are structured by
something like geometric relations”

0.1 Technical Matters

• “Many initially promising ideas depend for their success on some technical matter turning out right”.(Turner
2016, 2)
• Symbols
– =df : ‘defined so as to be identical to y’; singular terms
– ≡df : ’is defined as to be identical to y’; new predicates
– Greek letters (φ, ψ, . . . ); metalinguistic variables
– Π, Ξ: predicates, (or predicate variables)
– x, y, . . . : object-level variables and metalinguistic variables ranging over them (object-level vari-
– α, β, τ : ranging over terms
– “”: shorthand definite descrptions
– p∃xφq: a way to quantify over descriptions; depends what you value you assign to the variable φ
– Unbound variables: understood as implicitly universally quantified.
– Infinitary resources: let S be a set of sentences,
∗ φ∈S φ: disjunction of all the sentences in S
∗ φ∈S φ: conjunction of all the sentences in S
– x (sequences and lists): x1 , . . . , xn
– f(x) (functions): f (x1 ), . . . , f (xn )

0.2 Logical Consequence
• There are many proposal in the market for what is ‘logical consequence’
– syntactic, proof-theoretic relation that holds between some premises ∆ and a conclusion φ when
it is possible to derive (in some favoured derivation system) φ from ∆; ∆ ` φ
– semantic, model-theoretic relation that holds whenever every model (out of a specified class) that
makes all the sentences in ∆ true also makes φ true; ∆ |= φ
– Bolzonian relation that holds between ∆ and φ whenever any potential substitution of non-logical
terms that makes ∆ true also makes φ true.
– primitive kind logical modality connecting ∆ and φ

• Turner will talk about ’genuine’ logical consequence.

– It has two properties:
(Property 1) If ∆ ` φ, then ∆ |= φ.
(Property 2) If there is a model which makes ∆ all true but φ false, then ∆ 6⇒ φ. (That is, if ∆ |6 = φ),
then ∆ 6 ` φ
– In between the proof- and model-theoretic relations

0.3 Ontology and Ideology

• Ontology: study of what there is (exists)
• Distinction between ontology and ideology.
– Ontology: how the theory says reality is populated
– Ideology: what distinctions the theory says reality ultimately supports.
• Objections against the distinction:
– The distinction is obscure.
∗ Sometimes, this idea springs from a confusion of two debates
· one is about which features of ordinary thought and talk are licensed, mind-independently;
· the other, about which features of ordinary thought and talk correspond to an entity of
some sort.
– Ideology is ontology in disguise.
∗ But you need the distinction to make sense of the debate between platonists (for every pre-
dicate there must be a property) and nominalists. Otherwise, they express analytic truths
and falsehoods.
– Bradley regress may happen. (You have a property and an object. They are related by the
relation ‘instantiate’, that is an object; but, what relates the relation ‘instantiate’ to the object
or the property?)
∗ To avoid it, you need to accord ‘instantiate’ a special status of predicate which need not
correspond to a property or relation. That is to take it as part of the ideology.
• Arguments in favour:
– Sometimes, our metaphysical debates are not about the kind of things there are, but about how
it is structured, ‘what kind of things it makes sense to say about reality directly, without further

0.4 Realism and Anti-Realism
• Turner is a ‘knee-jerk realist’, (proper) metaphysical questions have a mind-independent, objectively
best answer
• Central project of the book: exchange subject-predicate representations for corresponding unstructured
• Project interesting even if you are not a knee-jerk realist:
– Subject-predicate representations of the world are a deep feature of our pre-linguistic cognitive
– Study this object oriented views indirectly.

0.5 Setting the Bar

• As ecumenical (neutral) on many issues as possible.
• Defend the view with the weakest resources possible.

0.6 Wittgenstein’s Tractatus

• Turner is not
– trying to expound Witty’s Tractarian views.
– construct a philosophical system with Tractarian motivations

• Working with presuppositions not loved by Witty.

• Ortogonal debates.

1 Factalism
1.1 Just the Facts, Ma’am
• To move from the ontology of the subject (nominalism) and the ontology of the predicate (platonism)
to an ontology of the assertion (facts).

• There seems to non-facts all around.

• A new theory must tell us how facts generate these non-fact appearances
• Tractarian factalism

– Facts are all atomic.

– Facts are arranged in a ’logical space’. Relations give the facts quasi-geometric structure. Structure
is used to explain appearances.
• Plan of the book

Chapter 1 Introduce factalism.

Chapter 2 systematic picture of this logical space by axiomatizing the relations that characterize it.
Chapter 3 How to ground talk of appearances.
Chapter 4 Adopting an attractive combinatorial theory of modality.
Chapter 5 Unfinished business of Chapter 3.
Chapter 6 Untrodden factalist paths.

1.1.1 Four doctrines
• Tractarian Factalism:
Factalism The world ultimately consists only of facts.
∗ Meaning of ‘ultimately consists’:
· There are objetcs. The problem is, how many?
· Democritan picture: mereological atoms.
· Monism: just one, the World.
· Nihilism: none.
· When ontologists take away our ordinaria, they owe us a replacement.
· Grounding story: an explanation, in terms of the ontology they accept in all metaphysical
seriousness, of where the appearances come from.
· What is it to give a Grounding story. Two meanings of ‘ultimately consists’
· First one: there are only F s
· Second one: insofar as there are non-F s, they are metaphysically dependent, in some
yet-to-be-specified way, on how the F s are.
∗ Meaning of ‘fact’:
· Not able to give a precise definition of it (criterion of identity).
· Nor say something of what the Tractarian factalist takes them to be.
· Stay neutral
· Using ‘fact’ will not be terribly problematic.
Atomicity Facts are atomic
∗ Examples of atomic appearances:
· Abby the apple is red
· Harry met Sally
· Scott Pilgrim vs. the World gossed $10 million at the Box Office on its opening weekend.
∗ Examples of non-atomic appearances:
· All swans are white.
· There are more flowers in your garden than in mine.
· Jellyish are dangerous.
Spatiality Facts are arranged in a ’logical space’.
• Extra one

Structurelessness Facts have no internal structure.

1.1.2 Why bother?
1.1.3 Geometrically related facts and the ostrich

1.2 The Grounding Project

1.3 Grounding in Facts
1.3.1 The factalist’s grounding project
1.3.2 Setting the terms
1.3.3 The flat-footed grounding story

1.4 Inferential Unsystematicity

1.4.1 The problem
1.4.2 What the problem is
1.4.3 What the problem isn’t
1.4.4 Why it’s a problem for the flat-footed strategy

1.5 The Tractatus to the Rescue

1.5.1 Identity and the Tractarian reduction
1.5.2 Adapting the strategy for factalists

1.6 The Problem of Patterns

1.6.1 Patterns
1.6.2 So what?

1.7 An Appeal to Metaphysics

1.7.1 Patterns
1.7.2 So what?

Turner, Jason. 2016. The Facts in Logical Space: A Tractarian Ontology. New York City: Oxford University