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‘The World is the Totality of Things, Not of Facts’: A Strawsonian Reply to Searle

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John R. Searle (1995; 1998, Ch. 9) claims that P.F. Strawson’s well known objections to correspondence theories of truth (Strawson 1950) can be side-stepped, if we regard the correspondence theorist’s facts as ‘conditions in the world’ (1998, p. 392) rather than as complex objects. In response, I claim both that Searle’s notion of a ‘condition in the world’ is obscure, and that such conditions cannot be the facts of a correspondence theorist on account of their being unsuited for truthmaking.

The failure of Searle’s attempt to come up with a correspondence theory which evades Strawson’s objections does not indicate that we should seek to formulate a correspondence theory in some other way. I argue that that the correspondence theorists’s truthmaker axiom is improperly motivated, and, in the light of this, suggest that facts be treated as true propositions rather than as items which make propositions true. The article ends with a defence of this position against two recent objections.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centre for Philosophy, Department of Government, University of Manchester, UK [email protected]

Publication date: 2002-06-01

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