I thank Dr. Binswanger for commenting on the post, Modal Confusion in Rand/Peikoff. His stimulating comments deserve to be brought to the top of the page. I have reproduced them verbatim below. I have intercalated my responses in blue. The ComBox is open, but the usual rules apply: be civil, address what is actually said, argue your points, etc.
1. There are not two kinds of truth--not qua truth. Truth qua truth is one relationship between a proposition (as used by a mind) and reality: the relationship of identification. In the broad sense, this is the Aristotelian theory of truth: "to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true" (Meta. IV, 7 1011b26)
(To be sure, truths may be subdivided according to their subject-matters--there are biological truths, chemical truths, mathematical truths, etc. But what it is for each of them to be true remains the same: they identify facts. Put it this way: these are types of truths, not types of truth.)
I agree that all truths have in common that they are truths. It doesn't matter what the subject-matter is. It also doesn't matter what modal status, semantic status, or epistemological status they have. Necessary and contingent truths have in common that they are truths. Analytic and synthetic truths have in common that they are truths. A priori and a posteriori truths have in common that they are truths. Those of us who uphold these distinctions are not committed to saying that there are different types of truth or that there are different senses of 'true.' I explain this more fully below.
You say that every truth identifies a fact. This requires explanation. Do you mean that every truth is identical to a fact? There is an identity theory of truth, and some of its proponents cite the very passage from Aristotle that you cited above: 1011b26. On the identity theory of truth, p is true iff p is identical to reality. (For a brief summary of the theory, see Pascal Engel, Truth, McGill 2002, pp. 37-40; for a full treatment, see Julian Dodd, An Identity Theory of Truth, Macmillan 2000.) If you don't mean to endorse an identity theory of truth, then it is not clear what you mean. 'Identify' is an epistemological word. To identify a suspect is to single him out. A person can identify this or that, but it is not clear how a proposition can identify anything. Note that identity is not the same as correspondence or correlation. If you want to say that every true proposition is corrrelated with or corresponds to a fact of reality, then I should think that 'identify' and cognates are not the best word choices. This is of course not an objection but merely a request for clarification.
As I see it, the relation between a proposition and reality is better described as correspondence. Propositions are truth-bearers which are made-true by truth-makers which are facts or states of affairs. But I wouldn't say that for every truth (true proposition) there is a truth-maker. You, however, seem to be saying that for every truth, including truths of formal logic, there are truth-making facts. It may be, of course, that you reject the distinction between truth-bearers and truth-makers.
So far, then, I do not understand what it means to say that truth qua truth is a relationship of identification between a proposition (as used by a mind) and reality. 'Identification' is ambiguous as between identity and correspondence. If you intend a correspondence theory, then I have no objection.
2. There are two kinds of facts, which Ayn Rand calls "metaphysically given facts" and "man-made facts." These facts differ not in their status as existents, but in their *origin*. "Man-made facts" are those produced by human choices--i.e., by free will; "metaphysically given facts" are produced deterministically by the operation of the law of causality as it applies to nonvolitional beings. That there are craters on the moon is a metaphysically-given fact. That Bill was blogging at time T is a man-made fact.
The inverse way of putting this distinction is: there are necessitated facts (e.g., craters on the moon) and non-necessitated facts (e.g., Bill blogging at T).
At this point I begin to have serious difficulties with what you are saying. I grant the distinction between the non-man-made and the man-made. And I grant that they differ in their "origin" as you put it. Man-made facts originate from human beings, while non-man-made facts do not. I also grant that man has free will and accept your distinction between volitional and nonvolitional beings. I grant for the sake of this discussion that nature is deterministic at micro-and macro-levels, though I hope you will grant that this is not obvious. So far, so good. But then you say that the non-man made facts are necessitated while the man-made facts are non-necessitated. Now there is a clear sense in which the craters on the moon are causally necessitated: GIVEN the laws of nature + the physical constants + initial and circumambient conditions + certain causes such as the crashing of meteors into the moon, the craters had to result: they were necessitated by their causes plus the other factors mentioned. But by the same token, my putting on of my hat is necessitated. GIVEN the laws of nature, etc. + my free decision to put on my hat, my having my hat on had to result. To be sure, I freely decided to put on my hat, and I could have done otherwise, but this free decision in the presence of the other conditions necessitated my being 'behatted.'
So, contrary to what you say, the non-man-made or 'metaphysical' fact of the moon's having craters and the man-made fact of my blogging now (or being 'behatted' now ) are both necessitated. They are both necessitated since both are causal outcomes that could not have been otherwise GIVEN what went before. An important difference, of course, is that my decision to blog was free, not determined, whereas the crashing of the meteors into the moon was determined by earlier events, which in turn were determined by earlier events, etc. It is important to keep in mind that a free act is not an act that is uncaused, but one that is caused by an agent. Qua free,I am the agent-cause of my acts. What exactly is your reason for saying that man-made facts are non-necessitated facts? The fact that they are man-made does not suffice to make them non-necessitated.
Back to truth. Just as chemical truths and mathematical truths are the same qua truth, so truths about man-made facts and truths about metaphysically given facts are the same qua truth.
I agree with this. All truths qua truths are true, and so all truths have something in common, namely, their being true. This appears to be beyond reasonable dispute. But it doesn't say very much, and it certainly does not justify the conclusion that there is no distinction between necessary and contingent truths. The inferential move from 'All truths qua truths are true' to 'There is no distinction between necessary and contingent truths' is invalid. This looks to be another attempt to squeeze a substantive and highly controversial conclusion out of a trivially true premise. This can't be done, any more that one can validly infer the nonexistence of God from the logical truth that whatever exists exists.
Necessary and contingent truths are indistinguishable in point of being true. Who would deny that? But a necessary truth is a proposition that possesses its truth essentially whereas a contingent truth is a proposition that possesses its truth accidentally. This is a very significant difference. The proposition expressed by 'The moon has craters' is true but that proposition might not have been true: had no meteors or other projectiles ever crashed into the moon, the proposition in question would have been false. (I am assuming bivalence: there are exactly two truth values, which implies that what is not true is false.) But the proposition expressed by 'If a = b, then b = a' is not such that it might not have been true: it is necessarily true, true no matter what, true in all possible circumstances.
Please note that to uphold the distinction between necessary and contingent propositions does not commit the upholder to the view that 'true' is used in different senses when applied to necessary and contingent propositions, or to the view that there are two types of truth. Necessary and contingent truths are two different types of truths, but that is not to say that there are different types of truth.
The adverbial form ("necessarily") can obscure what I hope I've just made clear. Try the adverbial form here: "Iron and oxygen combine to make rust" is "chemically true" and "2 + 2 = 4" is "mathematically true." You could put it that way, but it doesn't mean that *what it is to be true* differs in the two cases. The same applies to the use of adjectival forms: "chemical truth" and "mathematical truth" differ in their subject-matter, not in what it is for them to be true.
What you are saying is correct, but I don't see the point of it. You cite a truth of chemistry and a truth of mathematics. It is trivially the case that both truths are true. And so I cheerfully grant that *what it is to be true* is not different in the two cases. 'True' applied to the one and 'true' applied to the other have exactly the same sense. It is not as if there are two senses of 'true.' This is all correct and unproblematic. But it doesn't follow that there is no difference between necessary and contingent truths. For that is not a difference between senses of 'true,' but a difference in the way a proposition possesses the property of being true.
When we speak of necessary and contingent truths, we use 'true' and 'truth' in the same way, with the same sense, in both cases. The difference is that in the chemical case, the proposition has the property of being true accidentally while in the mathematical case, the proposition has the property of being true essentially.
In the same way, it can be misleading to say, "Bill blogged at T is necessarily true" (or is a "necessary truth"). Does it mean that it would have been impossible, given the existing conditions, that Bill not have blogged at T? If so, then that is false. Or does it mean that, given that Bill *did* choose to blog at T, it is impossible that the proposition expressing what he did be false? On the latter interpretation, "Bill blogged at T" is necessarily true. Or, to avoid the redundancy: it is true.
I am afraid you are making the same mistake that Peikoff made. Suppose Bill is blogging. Peter comes along, sees what's happening, and utters the declarative sentence, 'Bill is blogging.' The proposition p expressed by Peter's utterance is true, and is made true, by the fact F of Bill's blogging. Now surely it is impossible that the fact exist but the proposition be false. So we say:
Necessarily (if F exists, then p is true). But it does not follow that
If F exists, then necessarily p is true.
It seems you are committing the same modal fallacy that Peikoff committed: you are invalidly inferring the necessity of the consequent from the necessity of the consequence. In the first proposition (the premise), the necessity operator operates on the entire conditional within the parentheses, while in the second proposition (the conclusion), the necessity operator operates on only the consequent of the conditional.
You also seem to think that 'p is necessarily true' is a redundant way of saying that p is true. But that is not right. If I say of a proposition that it is true, then I leave unspecified whether it is necessarily or contingently true. But if I say of a proposition that it is necessarily true, then I specify its (alethic) modal status. Note that if a proposition is necessarily true, then we can validly and immediately infer that it is true. But if a proposition is true, we cannot validly and immediately infer that it is necessarily true. And this for the simple reason that it might be contingent.
To say "all truths are 'necessary'" (with the scare quotes) is, for Objectivism, to say that it is impossible for a proposition to identify a fact (of any kind) and yet fail to be true.
Acquiescing for the moment in your use of 'identifies,' I agree that, necessarily, for any proposition p, if p identifies a fact, then p is true. You are absolutely right about that, and no reasonable person could dispute it. But it doesn't follow that for any proposition p, if p identifies a fact, then p is necessarily true. For that is plainly false. The proposition *Bill is blogging* identifies the fact of Bill's blogging. But *Bill is blogging,* though true, is only contingently true. Our man might have been swimming now or doing something else inconsistent with blogging.
I also observe that you make free use of modal words like 'impossible' as you just did. So you can't be denying the sense of modal words. Nor can you be denying the sense of a sentence like 'If a proposition is necessary, then its negation is impossible.' But perhaps I am misunderstanding you. Do you want to say that modal words like 'possible' and 'necessary' have no meaning? This draconian position is suggested by your talk above of 'necessarily' as redundant.
Now, I said that the two kinds of fact are distinguished by their origin. A fact, once it exists, was brought into existence either by deterministic causation or volitional causation (i.e., as the product of man's choice). *This* is the distinction Rand and Peikoff are making. This is a distinction based on the nature of the causality that produced the fact. It is *not* a deduction from Bill's proposition a.: "It is impossible that F exist and p not be true." It is, perforce, not a deduction from Bill's proposition a*.: "It is necessary that if F exists, then p is true."
I agree completely that there is a distinction between deterministic causation and volitional causation. If you don't mind me invoking the devil himself, this is essentially KANT'S distinction between the causality of nature and the causality of freedom. A damned good distinction! But there is no need to bring Kant into it. I agree that man-made facts come into existence via volitional causation while non-man-made facts come into existence via deterministic causation. (Or at least this is true with respect to facts that come into existence.) But this difference in origin and this difference in the nature of the causality does not imply that the the two kinds of fact are not both contingent, or that the propositions that record these facts are not contingent.
Since the position that all truths are "necessary" is not a deduction from a. or a*., it is not the case that any logical fallacy is committed.
I suspect that Bill disagrees not about the nature of truth but about causality. I suspect that he disagrees with the Objectivist position that there is no alternative to the metaphysically given. Objectivism holds that where free will is not involved, everything is necessitated and could not have been other than it is.
So far I am not disagreeing with you about causality. What I disagree with is the fallacious inference from 'Everything in nature is necessitated' to 'Nothing in nature could have been other than it is.' If nature is deterministic (and I grant that it is for the sake of this discussion), then events in nature are necessitated by their causes given the laws of nature and other conditions. But that which is necessitated need not be necessary: it can be contingent. The lunar craters, e.g., were causally necessitated by earlier events. But the lunar craters would not have existed if (a) no meteors had crashed into the moon, or (b) the laws of nature had been different, or (c) the moon had an impregnable surface or (d) the moon had a surface like a trampoline or (e) the moon was inhabited by an advanced species of extraterrestrial that had in place a fail-safe laser system to blow apart any incoming projectiles or (f) the physical universe hadn't existed.
Consider (f) for a moment. Was the Big Bang necessary? It certainly was not necessitated by anything natural, it being the origin of nature = space-time-matter). So one cannot say that it was necessary because it was necessitated. But if contingent, then everything that happened thereafter was contingent including the coming into existence of the moon and its having craters.
From my point of view, what you and Rand fail to see is that there is a logical gap between 'X is causally necessitated' and 'X is broadly-logically necessary.' The moon's having craters was causally necessitated. But its having craters is broadly-logically contingent for the reasons I gave above. I don't see that you have given any reasons for the conflation of the causally necessitated with the broadly-logically necessary.
Leaving Bill, personally, aside, many philosophers hold that nature (apart from man) is non-deterministic. There are craters on the moon, these philosophers would say, but there didn't *have* to be: the craters depended for their coming into being on two things: the laws of physics and the "initial conditions." But, they say, neither *had* to be as they were. This is the kind of "contingency" in nature with which Objectivism disagrees. The laws of physics are inherent in the nature of matter, and the initial conditions were necessitated by the laws of physics plus earlier initial conditions. These earlier conditions were equally necessitated by still earlier conditions, and so on.
I detect a confusion here. A philosopher who rejects the Randian view that everything necessitated is necessary does not thereby abandon determinism. Determinism is the thesis that past states of the universe in conjunction with the laws of nature render only one present state of the universe physically or nomologically possible. Determinism is compatible with the rejection of the Randian conflation of the causally necessitated with the broadly-logically (or metaphysically) necessary. Rand's view about nature appears to be a conjunction of determinism (as just defined) and the view that the causally necessitated is broadly-logically necessary.
I could say more, but I've gone on long enough.