Facing Facts is a powerful, original examination of attempts to dislodge a cornerstone of modern philosophy: the idea that our thoughts and utterances are representations of slices of reality. Representations that are accurate are usually said to be true, to correspond to the facts - this is the foundation of correspondence theories of truth. A number of prominent philosophers have tried to undermine the idea that propositions, facts and correspondence can play any useful role in philosophy, and formal arguments have been advanced to demonstrate that, under seemingly uncontroversial conditions, such entities collapse into an undifferentiated unity. The demise of individual facts is meant to herald the dawn of a new era in philosophy, in which debates about scepticism, realism, subjectivity, representational and computational theories of mind, possible worlds, and divergent conceptual schemes that represent reality in different ways to different persons, periods, or cultures evaporate through lack of subject matter.
By carefully untangling a host of intersecting metaphysical, epistemological, semantic, and logical issues, and providing rich and original analyses of key aspects of the work of Frege, Russell, Godel, and Davidson, Stephen Neale demonstrates that arguments for the collapse of facts are considerably more complex and interesting than either friend or foe ever imagined. A number of deep semantic facts emerge along with a powerful proof: while it is technically possible to avoid the collapse of facts, rescue the idea of representations of reality, and thereby face anew the problems raised by the sceptic or the relativist, doing so requires making some tough semantic decisions about predicates and descriptions. It is simply impossible, Neale shows, to invoke representations, facts, states, or propositions without making hard choices - choices that may send many philosophers scurrying back to the drawing board. Facing Facts will be crucial to future work in metaphysics, the philosophy of language and mind, and logic, and will have profound implications far beyond.
Publisher: Oxford University Press