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Peikoff STOPS at 'necessary'; he makes no effort to move on. Normally Peikoff would not even attach the word "necessary" to truth; he is only momentarily doing it because he is referencing the error of other systems. It is only other systems that feel the urge to call some truths 'necessary' and then construct something called a "contingent truth."

The question is: why do other systems do so?

John Donohue
Pasadena, CA

To expand a little further, using your example:
"If some facts are not necessary, then the propositions that record these facts are not necessary either. It is not necessary that I be blogging now even though I am blogging now. The proposition expressed by 'I am blogging now,' though true, is contingently true. Surely there is no necessity that I be blogging now! As Peikoff corrctly states, "man has free will." (110) Since I am freely blogging now, and could have done otherwise, the fact of my blogging now is contingently existent, whence it follows that the proposition recording this fact is contingenty true."

...the response is: Objectivism does not construct "contingency." It is only concerned with discovering if the proposition is consistent with the fact. We would investigate if "I am blogging" is consistent with the facts and declare it 'true' or 'false.' Period.

John Donohue

Dr. Vallicella,

As you may know, Rand's followers consider her theory of 'concept formation' as presented in ITOE her greatest achievement. I would be interested in your comments on it.

-Neil Parille

Peikoff is talking about "man-made" facts that have already been decided upon. He means once a man-made fact has been created it is a fact, and it is a truism to say it is a fact. He is not talking about future actions that have yet to be decided upon. When he says some facts are not necessary, he is saying, that men could have decided to do otherwise, but once done they are necessary, they are facts. If it is true, it is necessary because it exists. He is not talking about "facts" that have yet to be created...meaning contingencies. You are confusing yourself in order to discredit his position. If you are now blogging, there is nothing contingent about it...you are now blogging and saying so is a truism. To say that your statment "I am now blogging" is contingent is to say, "I may and I may not now be blogging though I am sitting at the computer with my blog page up on the screen typing so that others can read it after I've finished." How could that not be blogging? Where is the contingency in that? You are blogging and it is a fact. Your point about consequences is irrelevant to the point.

For anyone interested in this aspect of Rand's system, there is another essay that illuminates the Objectivist challenge to the orthodox necessary/contingent and analytic/synthetic tradition.

“The Metaphysical Versus the Man-Made,”
from the book 'Philosophy: Who Needs It'
Excerpts:
http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/metaphysicalvsmanmade.html

John Donohue

What about this: "Truth is the identification of a fact with reality"? It sounds like he's trying to express the correspondence theory ('the' or 'a'?) but the choice of 'identification' is unfortunate, as is the contrast between reality and facts (unless by 'facts' he means 'propositions').

Bill, please leave all the comments, including the most logically illiterate. As I comment in my latest post here

http://ocham.blogspot.com/2009/01/i-was-going-to-follow-up-previous-post.html

this will allow your more sober-minded readers (of which you have many) to understand what the more sober-minded editors of Wikipedia have to put up with. Best, Ocham

Hi Bill. I will post this as a trial post. Don't know whether I can post here since I have not posted for a while.

peter

OK. Seems to work.

John Donohue,

1) John Donohue says in response to one of Bill V's arguments:
"...the response is: Objectivism does not construct "contingency." It is only concerned with discovering if the proposition is consistent with the fact. We would investigate if "I am blogging" is consistent with the facts and declare it 'true' or 'false.' Period."

2) "Objectivism does not construct "contingency.""
I am not sure what this sentence means. Perhaps you mean that a certain theory called 'Objectivism' does not accept the distinction between contingent and necessary truths. It would be helpful to provide some rational arguments why "Objectivism" rejects the distinction in question.

3) Objectivism is concerned with "...discovering if the proposition is consistent with the fact."

Strictly speaking "propositions cannot be consistent (or inconsistent) with facts; they can be consistent only with other propositions. Propositions may express certain facts or they can be said to correspond or not correspond to facts. Propositions (sentences, statements, etc., all truth-value bearing entities) and facts belong to different categories of entities. The term 'consistent' requires that the entities so compared belong to the same category. Hence, the statement above is strictly speaking a "category mistake".
Therefore, you must mean here that objectivism is concerned with discovering whether a given proposition is true or whether it correspond to certain facts or whether there is a fact which it expresses.

4) Once this confusion is removed, then we can ask whether a given fact is contingent or necessary. Take Bill's example of "I am blogging at a given time t." We can legitimately ask:

Could I have not been blogging at t?

Now, intuitively it makes sense to say that things might have been such that I did not blogg at t. For instance, suppose that some time prior to time t (say ten minutes or so) I got a heart attack as a result of which at time t I was undergoing surgery rather than blogging. Since nothing rules out that I should get a heart attack prior to t, it follows that it could have been the case that I did not blogg at t. Therefore, even though I did blogg at t, this fact is contingent (it could have been otherwise). This is what the term 'contingent' means and it conforms to our intuitions. And if a certain fact is contingent, then the propositions that corresponds to such a fact is said to be a contingent proposition.
I do not see any response to this line of reasoning by you or anyone else on this thread. And of course this is the principal point in Bill's post.

5) "We would investigate if "I am blogging" is consistent with the facts and declare it 'true' or 'false.' Period."

Once again propositions are neither consistent nor inconsistent with facts: only facts can do that.
We can rephrase what you say as follows:

[We would investigate if "I am blogging" *corresponds to* the facts and declare it 'true' or 'false.' Period."]

So rephrased what you say is fine. I suppose the word "Period" indicates that you do not wish to explore further whether the fact to which the proposition "I am blogging" corresponds is contingent or necessary. That is OK provided you offer an argument why this further issue is not to be pursued further. O/w the "Period" above indicates that you are taking a stand on the matter but you have failed to provide rational reasons why should one take such a stand. You need an argument here not merely an assertion.
Period!

peter

peter

Rob Diago Says:

1)"When he says some facts are not necessary, he is saying, that men could have decided to do otherwise, but once done they are necessary, they are facts. If it is true, it is necessary because it exists. He is not talking about "facts" that have yet to be created...meaning contingencies. You are confusing yourself in order to discredit his position."

(i) I suppose the 'he' above refers to Peikoff and the 'you' refers to Bill.
(ii) There is a confusion here between the past vs. the future and necessary vs. contingent.
(iii) First, a future event is not a fact, since it did not yet occur.
(iv) Second, the phrase "could have done otherwise" makes sense not merely regarding the future, but also regarding the present and the past.
E.g., It is a fact that I ate breakfast this morning (past). But,
I could have just as easily skipped breakfast altogether this morning if for instance I would have slept until noon; or I had to go for an emergency hospital visit; I decided that it is time to fast for a day or two in order to cleanse my body.

Are you denying these considerations? On what grounds?

(v) Hence, it is totally unclear what considerations support the claim that "once done they are necessary" regarding past facts. This claim is very likely based on confusing two different modalities. On the one hand, there is a sense in which a past event, once happened, "cannot be changed" thereafter (assuming time-travel is not possible). And that is one reasonable sense of the modal tern 'can' or 'cannot'. The other relevant notion here is the counter-factual claim involving the phrase "could have done otherwise" or "could have been otherwise". In this sense, as my breakfast example above shows, a past fact while cannot be changed once it occurred nevertheless could have not occurred altogether. The confusion seems to be to think of the idea that something that occurred could have not occurred along the lines of changing something that happened. That is not the case. The phrase 'it could have been otherwise' is not indicating that a past event is changed: it is indicating that the world could have been such that the event in question would not have happened at all; instead some other even would have happened.

Therefore, it makes sense to say that while I cannot undo (now or in the future) the sins of my past, I could have avoided doing them in the first place (hence I am responsible for doing them).

(vi) "If it is true, it is necessary because it exists."

It is true that I have seven pennies in my pocket. Does it follow that it is necessary that I have seven pennies in my pocket; i.e., that I could not have had at this moment six pennies instead? Not really. For instance, I have seven pennies in my pocket because that is the change that I got in the store. But the clerk could have made a mistake and given me six pennies instead.

To rule out cases such as these an argument must be given; not merely, declarations.

(vii) As for the concluding remarks: "You are confusing yourself in order to discredit his position."

I see no basis for this claim.

peter

Alex L. wrote: >>What about this: "Truth is the identification of a fact with reality"? It sounds like he's trying to express the correspondence theory ('the' or 'a'?) but the choice of 'identification' is unfortunate, as is the contrast between reality and facts (unless by 'facts' he means 'propositions').<<

You're right, Alex: the opening sentence makes little sense. I read it as an inept formulation of the correspondence theory of truth. 'Fact' is sometimes used to mean 'true proposition.' And then 'fact' would contrast with 'reality.' But from the context Peikoff cannot be using 'fact' in that way. From the context, a fact is a truth-maker, not a truth-bearer.

Peikoff says in Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand that he believes in the correspondence theory of truth.

I have received a similar batch of comments at my blog (2 got deleted by mistake unfortunately but no great loss I suspect.

Do people now understand clearly what it is like at Wikipedia to try and reason with people who are unable to reason?

Also to Bill's earlier point that many people came to philosophy via Ayn Rand. Perhaps but was that a good thing?

Peter,

Thanks very much for your responses to Donohue and Diego. You have spared me the work of doing so. Let me underscore and expand upon some of your points.

1. Since propositions (truth-bearers) and facts (truth-makers) belong to different categories, we shouldn't ask whether a proposition is consistent with a fact or the facts. We should ask whether a proposition corresponds to, or is made true by, a fact or the facts. Consistency and inconsistency are defined on propositions. Propositions p, q are consistent iff they can both be true, and inconsistent iff they cannot both be true.

2. You clearly appreciate the incoherence of saying that some facts are contingent but all truths are necessary. If fact F is cotingently existent, then the corresponding proposition p is contingently true. And this is a necessary truth!

3. What the Randians don't seem to understand is the notion of contingency. This is a modal notion not to be confused with temporal notions. Peter ate breakfast today a few hours ago. That event is past and unalterable in the sense that nothing that anyone does now or in the future can change the fact that he ate breakfast this morning. Not even God can change it. But this unalterability is consistent with it being a contingent fact that Peter ate breakfast this morning. Had he died the day before, he wouldn't have eaten breakfast this morning. Even if Peter were a deterministic system devoid of free will, it would still be the case that his eating breakfast is a contingent event. For this event depends on its causal antecedents, and these could have been otherwise.

As Aquinas says somewhere, not even God can restore a virgin. But this is not to say that the girl (or boy) is not responsible for surrendering her (his) virginity. For she (he) could have done otherwise.

4. It is interesting how these Randians, who are deeply confused, project their confusion into others. So Diego thinks that I am confused when what I wrote above is a crystal clear exposition of confusions in Peikoff. This is why professional philosophers refer to Rand and Peikoff as philosophical amateurs: their work does not meet professional standards.

Bill,

I think much of the confusion here about contingency is between the modal and the temporal one, as we both highlighted. Of course, the Randians could object on philosophical grounds to the whole metaphysical distinction between contingent vs. necessary (just like Quineans do), but they seem not to opt for such a debate. So other than the confusion between the temporal and the modal, I see no other way of explaining their position.
Note: I have never read Peikoff and so I am relying here only on the material presented on this thread.

Beyond projecting their own confusion, I am also detecting a lack of recognition that arguments rather than declarations must be given in order to support a position.

good talking to you again.

peter

By the way, Peter, good to see you back, missed you. Thank you for taking the time to make these comments.

>>By the way, Peter, good to see you back, missed you. Thank you for taking the time to make these comments.

Sorry that was from me. Bill, what exactly persuaded you that Typepad was an improvement on the old (to my mind perfectly satisfactory) blog?

It seems I can leave comments on here directly from an IP without logging in. Doesn't that expose you to the risks of unsavoury material being dropped through the letter box?

Thanks Ocham. Good being back. hope to have some time for this.

peter

Peter,

It is one thing to claim that a distinction is bogus, quite another to claim that one or the other limb of the distinction is empty. Thus one could accept as a genuine distinction that between necessary and contingent propositions, while claiming that either (1) all propositions are necessary and none are contingent, or (2) all propositions are contingent and none are necessary. Peikoff claims that all truths are necessary. That is not only consistent with the genuineness of the necessary/contingent distinction, it entails it. Quine, however, rejects the genuineness of the disintinction (as one that sorts all propositions into two disjoint classes, the necessary and the contingent).

Do you accept the difference?

Bill,

Yes I accept the distinction you are making.
It is worth noting that Leibniz, a clearly brilliant philosopher, also thought that all truths are necessary. I suspect that Leibniz had weighty considerations to think so, even if they are somewhat difficult to figure out.

peter

I move my fingers across my lips and hum. Really...the past is the past and anything that happened in the past is necessary. The future is the future and anything that man does in the future is contingent upon his choice. Once done an act of man is past and necessary. How could you not realize this? Why drivel like the skeptic that you are in order to pretend that you actually understand what you are saying when you don't? As Rand says, your conclusions are "brazenly clear" but your proofs are unintelligible. bblblblelble

To Diego (claiming that it is obvious that the past is necessary, and the future contingent).
That may be true, but you are claiming it is obviously true. Respected philosophers have denied both claims. In the thirteenth century many argued that any proposition about the future, if true, is necessarily true (omnis propositio de futuro vera est necessaria). Robert Kilwardby even had to denounce this proposition in March 1277 as heretical.
And Peter Damian in the 11th century argued that God has the power to change the past - can indeed restore virginity.
Both may be wrong (I have my own view). But since there are cogent arguments for them, it is hardly right to denounce them as 'obviously' wrong.

I also share Peter's complaint about Randian's tendency to make declarations rather than give arguments.

Diago first makes a declaration about past and future truths. Then he asks how we could not realize this, as though the declaration were evidence. Then he accuses us of drivelling like sceptics. He quotes Rand as saying our conclusions are "brazenly clear" but our proofs are unintelligible. "bblblblelble" Nothing resembling an argument.

Some announcements of my own!

--Beware of those who pronounce the supremacy of rationality yet refuse to practice it when it comes to their own dearly held beliefs;
--Rationality for them is a tool to intimidate, not to investigate; to promote a system rather than to explore the truth;
--Beware of those who promote the independence of reality yet render it a slave to their own ends;
--Truth for them is locked within the chambers of their own system and proof is a servant that holds the key;
--Beware of those who change meaning "brazenly" not in order to bring insight, but in order to obscure and cloud the fields.

So far the Randians on this thread refuse to engage in a rational debate, they do not seek clarity and truth. Instead they are only interested to defend their views come what may and think that quoting Rand (e.g., Rob Diago above) constitutes a rational refutation or a proof of some kind. I hope that some serious proponents, if there are any, will show up to this party sometime soon.

peter


Peter all your pontifications are rejected. Your pot shots went astray. Turn them on yourself. I would particularly suggest you desist from the thing about Objectivists 'quoting Rand' as it is embarrassing coming from a parrot of Children of Plato. Or how about this: completely detach your mind from Kant. Reject him utterly. Now argue without referencing him.

Peter: "Perhaps you mean that a certain theory called 'Objectivism' does not accept the distinction between contingent and necessary truths. It would be helpful to provide some rational arguments why "Objectivism" rejects the distinction in question."
a) thanks for calling Objectivism a theory (although it is actually philosophy); theory means that science has verified it to be true. If you ignorantly meant to say hypothesis, you stand corrected.
b) the reason why Objectivists reject the necessary/contingent error requires no arguments, since we do not claim it; you do. Please cite your arguments, or rather Plato/Hume/Kant's arguments, why it is required, other than to make room for faith. Another way to put this is: Objectivists are not Analytic Philosophers, thank God.

The rest of your post is just Analytic mumbo jumbo which even admits to itself that it all comes back to the Necessary/Contingent dichotomy. I have already answered that above. I'll await your justification for the schism, hopefully more than "Kant told me I had to."

John Donohue
Pasadena, CA

In his lament (above) over the fact that Objectivists are resisting the evisceration of Ayn Rand's article on Wikipedia by the philosophic academic orthodoxy, the kindly ocham forgets to mention that he advocates the takeover of Wikipedia at the point of a gun by "the government."

How's that going?

John Donohue

Dr. Vallicella, even ignoring all your slurs, ridicule (the bizarre post of that lexicon) ad hoc claims of our 'confusion', random name calling, etc., I will continue to call your point.

Cease to say, as you just did, that Objectivists "...don't seem to understand [...] the notion of contingency." We do understand it. We know what you are trying to do with it. We know your game. If you REALLY read Ayn Rand and looked at the world through her eyes, you would have to admit that she understands it, even though you would naturally reject it/her.

This remains standing: the necessary/contingent distinction is integral to your philosophy. It is not mentioned or needed in Objectivism. The can be no alternative to "the burden is on you" for the explication of it.

I await your justification for the introduction of the distinction into philosophy.

John Donohue
Pasadena, CA

Donohue,

I will begin at the end of your post:

1) You say: "I'll await your justification for the schism, hopefully more than "Kant told me I had to.""

1.1) I never mentioned Kant so far as I recall in any of my posts in this thread in order to justify the distinction between contingent/necessary or any other. So your quasi-quote above must be something you must be projecting onto my views.

1.2) The justification for the distinction is simple and intuitive. Certain propositions that are true are true necessarily; e.g., 2+2=4, since 2 plus 2 could not add up to anything but 4. (some think that the proposition water = H2O is also necessary)
Other propositions that are true are contingently true; e.g., I ate breakfast this morning, since it could have been otherwise.
And still others, while false, could have been true (are possibly true); e.g., the proposition that there are seven pennies in my pocket, while it is actually false (because there are no pennies in my pocket) could have been true if I would have placed seven pennies in my pocket at an appropriate time.

1.3) Now, in order to object to this intuitive distinction you must provide an argument; an argument is something that has premises and it has a conclusion. It is valid if the conclusion must be true when the premises are; invalid otherwise. It is sound if it is valid and has true premises (which will render the conclusion true). You have offered nothing of the sort.

1.4) All you offered is a repetition of the following statements and their variants:
(a) A past fact that is not man-made is necessary.
(b) A past fact that is man-made is necessary.
(c) A future potential man-made action is not yet decided.

Now, this is not an argument against the distinction between necessary and contingent. It is merely categorizing matters in a manner that appears to avoid using it. But it very quickly turns into a mere verbal maneuver that has very little philosophical merit. Why?

1.5) Because it is confusing the concept of "unchangeability of the past" with the concept of "necessity" and replacing the concept of "contingency" with the concept of "human choice". All past events are unchangeable. Therefore, the following proposition is necessarily true for every event e:

(UNCH) It is necessary that every event e, once it occurred, cannot be subsequently changed.

(UNCH) is true for every event no matter whether it is man-made or not. But not all events for which (UNCH) is true are necessary. For instance, (UNCH) is true with regards to the event that I ate breakfast yesterday. Hence, nothing can change the fact that I ate breakfast yesterday. But the proposition "I ate breakfast yesterday (time specified)" is not necessary. Why? Because nothing rules out a variety of contingencies which would have prevented me from eating breakfast yesterdy such as, for instance, sleeping until noon, having a heart attack, and so on.

1.6) I have given this argument above and you never replied to it. Without a reply to these sort of arguments your responses are at best useless hand waving. They are not arguments.

2) You say: "The rest of your post is just Analytic mumbo jumbo which even admits to itself that it all comes back to the Necessary/Contingent dichotomy."

2.1) And here is an example of hand-waving accompanied by name calling. Name calling: my post is nothing but "Analytic mumbo jumbo". I don't recognize this phrase as an argument. Where are the premises; what is the conclusion. And if my post is "analytic" whatever that means, so what? Answer the arguments given or else you have no philosophical standings whatsoever.

3) The (b) clause above says:
"the reason why Objectivists reject the necessary/contingent error requires no arguments, since we do not claim it; you do. Please cite your arguments, or rather Plato/Hume/Kant's arguments, why it is required, other than to make room for faith. Another way to put this is: Objectivists are not Analytic Philosophers, thank God."

3.1) Typically, when a distinction is based upon reasonable intuitive considerations and has been given a reasonably solid philosophical foundation, then it has a prima facie justification. It is the obligation of those who deny it to provide reasons why it has no merit. These are the standard rules of the burden of proof in debating matters.
3.2) Bill and I have offered a variety of reasons and arguments as to why the distinction in question is cogent and philosophically justified. You have given no reasons or arguments against it. We are still awaiting a Randian response that has philosophical merit rather than name calling, hand waving, and the rest of maneuvers that exemplify elementary fallacies of critical thinking and a total embrace of dogma. (You see I also know how to call names; except that in this case the "bad" names apply to your post).

4)"thanks for calling Objectivism a theory (although it is actually philosophy); theory means that science has verified it to be true. If you ignorantly meant to say hypothesis, you stand corrected."

Well, if you want to argue about the meaning of "theory" you are welcome. As for "Objectivism" and my reference to it as a 'theory', perhaps this is the only notable point you have inadvertently made thus far. Perhaps, "Objectivism" is not a theory in the respectful sense of this term. So far as I can tell it certainly does not deserve the label 'philosophy' either. So who knows what is it? A set of assertions by Randians? OK. There: I shall henceforth call "Objectivism" instead of a theory as follows: "A Randian Ramblings of Assertions" or RRASST in short.
How do you like this name calling game?

"Am I done?
Not yet. There is another jewel here."

5)"Please cite your arguments, or rather Plato/Hume/Kant's arguments, why it is required, other than to make room for faith. Another way to put this is: Objectivists are not Analytic Philosophers, thank God."

5.1) I love faith. I wish I had more of it. But in this case the distinction I defend is based upon reason (Not the kind championed by RRASST; for I cannot recognize reason among RRASSTIANS around here). I (and Bill) have given reasons for it. You did not respond to them. Do not confuse lack of reasons with your refusal to respond to those given.

5.2) As for Plato, Hume, and Kant: I respect them all (but I worship no one: might be a good advise for you to follow).
Plato would have adopted the distinction in some form. Hume rejected most of it. Kant accepted it in some form and was the one (so far as I know) who first offered a reasonably careful account of it and its relation to the other two pairs analytic/synthetic and a-prior/a-posteriori (Ockham might be able to correct me on these historical point; so might Bill).
5.3) So what was the point about Plato/Hume/Kant? Ah! Defending the distinction. I did that.
5.3) "Objectivists are not Analytic Philosophers"
That is painfully obvious!

Just one extremely important correction:
So far as I can discern so-called "Objectivists" are neither analytic nor are they philosophers. They are more like zealot true-believers that adhere faithfully and without any critical examination to a set of dogmatic pronouncements mixed with a personality cult: they are followers of faith without a genuine God.

Which brings me to "Who did you thank there? God?" I thought you RRASSTIANS deny the existence of any such a being. Perhaps you meant rather: Thanks (not God but) Rand!

wonderful chatting with you!

peter

As an actual Objectivist philosopher, let me attempt to address Bill's critique of Peikoff's article.

First, there's a significant typo in the first line of his reproduction of Peikoff's last paragraph. Peikoff did *not* write: "Truth is the identification of a fact WITH reality." (As someone pointed out, that is nonsensical.) The actual sentence is: "Truth is identification of a fact OF reality." (emphasis added by me)

(For the merely connotative difference between "fact" and "fact of reality," see _Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology_, p. 243).

Now on to the main point. The Objectivist position is twofold:

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.)

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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 could say more, but I've gone on long enough.

Dr Binswanger,

Thank you very much! I will respond at the top of the page in a separate post either tonight or tomorrow.

Harry Binswanger,

First, on a personal level, I appreciate your efforts to elucidate these issues from the point of view of an Objectivist philosopher. Regardless of whether ultimate agreement is reached on any of them, it is refreshing that a proponent of Objectivism addresses the issues here in a mature manner without labels and name calling.
Now to the principal disputed points.

1) One of the main issues that Bill introduced for discussion is whether the Objectivist’s rejection of the traditional distinction between contingent vs. necessary truths is cogent and whether the distinction has philosophical merit.

2) Now, the distinction between contingent vs. necessary truths is supported by three fundamental considerations:

(a) Common-sense intuitions: Without engaging into heavy theoretical lifting, common sense distinguishes between facts that *could have been otherwise* and facts which *could not been otherwise*. While common sense intuitions may not be clear about the scope of each and the precise demarcation lines between them, it does recognize the distinction itself and it is useful for everyday purposes.

(b) Logical considerations: Modal logic captures with mathematical precision the distinction between possible and necessary and contingent and it is an extremely powerful and useful system of logic that captures the structure of inferences involving these notions. Moreover, historically it provided the foundation for a variety of offshoots of similarly structured logics such as doxastic logic, deontic logic, etc.

(c) Philosophical (Metaphysical) considerations: The distinction between contingent, possible, and necessary has been very useful in order to articulate many philosophical problems such as essentialism, the nature of existence, questions about God, causality, and so on.

3) The Burden of Proof issue: When a distinction is supported by a variety of considerations such as this one undoubtedly is, then those who deny its fundamental viability carry the burden of proof: namely, they must show why such a distinction is not viable, despite all appearances to the contrary, or misleading, or cannot be made clear, or can be replaced by a better one. In turn, those who support the distinction must defend it against cogent arguments of the proponents.
Note: This simple point about the logic of this debate was systematically and repeatedly ignored by the proponents of Objectivism on this site. They appeared to think that simply repeating a variety of internal distinctions made within the system of Objectivism constitute arguments against the distinction between contingent and necessary. They are not sufficient! Internal distinctions within Objectivism cannot replace arguments against this distinction. They might be useful to replace the distinction in question if and when it must be abandoned due to cogent arguments against it.

4) Now, let me try to address the Objectivist conceptual apparatus as presented in your post and the way I see its relationship to the concepts of contingency, possibility, and necessity.
4.1) Truth.
You say the following: “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.”

4.1.2) In this paragraph you appear to argue that because there is one and only one relationship between true propositions and the facts that make them true (called “identification”) it somehow follows that “There are not two kinds of truth—not qua truth”. In other words, since there is only one relationship between true propositions and reality, there cannot be several kinds of truths such as contingent truths, possible truths, and necessary truths. This inference is incorrect.

4.1.3) First a terminological matter: You seem to endorse a correspondence theory of truth, but rename it by the word ‘identification’. I am troubled by this terminology for various reasons, but will simply assume that by ‘identification’ you mean that a true proposition corresponds to the relevant facts in the world that make it true.

4.1.4) There is nothing incoherent about the idea that while all true propositions correspond to certain facts (those that make them true), there are different kinds of facts and therefore there are different kinds of truths. For instance, the proposition ‘2+2=4’ is true and therefore it corresponds to the relevant mathematical fact. Similarly, the proposition ‘I have seven pennies in my pocket’ is true and it likewise corresponds to some appropriate fact. So with respect to their truth (qua true propositions) both propositions enjoy the relationship of correspondence to the relevant facts. However, the proposition ‘2+2=4’ could not be false, because the relevant mathematical fact could not be otherwise. So therefore, the proposition ‘2+2=4’ is a necessary truth. By contrast, the proposition ‘I have seven pennies in my pocket’, while also true because it corresponds to the fact that I indeed have seven pennies in my pocket, is a contingent truth because it could have been otherwise: i.e., it could have been the case that I had more than seven pennies in my pocket or less or none at all.

4.1.5) So from the mere fact that we recognize one and only one relationship that is uniform between true propositions and facts (call it ‘identification’ or ‘correspondence’ or whatever) it certainly does not follow that there cannot be a distinction between contingent and necessary truths. Additional premises must be introduced into the argument in order to obtain a viable argument against the said distinction.

4.2) One of these additional premises appear to rely upon the distinction between “metaphysically given facts” vs. “man-made facts”. We may cheerfully admit this distinction and the accompanying characterization in terms of *origin* and so forth. The question is how does this distinction is supposed to assist in undermining the completely different distinction between contingent vs. necessary facts?

4.2.1) Surely you do not wish to suggest that your proposed distinction can replace the distinction between contingent and necessary facts, for the two pairs of distinctions are at cross purposes, as your own emphasis on *origin* shows. The distinction under dispute has to do with whether or not, given that such-and-such a fact is indeed the case, could things have been otherwise. The fact that there are exactly 34,671 leaves on this tree in my backyard is contingent but not man-made; but so is the fact that I happen to have exactly seven pennies in my pocket despite the fact that this fact is man-made.

4.2.2) So while we may accommodate your distinction, I do not see how accommodating it helps in undermining the distinction between contingent and necessary facts.

4.3) Next you say the following:
“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.”

4.3.1) Let P be a proposition and f any fact whatsoever. The following two sentences cannot both be true (are impossible):

(a) There exists a fact f such that the proposition P corresponds to (or identifies) f;
(b) ‘P’ is false (not-true).

Why? Because by definition of the terms ‘correspondence’ (in your terminology ‘identifies’) and ‘true’ a proposition is true if and only if it corresponds to some fact. So (a) and (b) are impossible by the way we define ‘truth’ in terms of ‘correspondence’.

4.3.2) BUT! From the above it simply does not follow, nor does it mean that, the proposition P is necessary. And this point was made clearly, explicitly, and forcefully by Bill. To say otherwise is to be involved in a logical blunder. The point made in (4.3.1) applies to any proposition whatsoever whether it is a mathematical proposition, a chemical proposition, a necessary proposition, a contingent proposition, a proposition about man-made facts or whatever the origin of the fact. And it so applies simply because this is how we define truth.

4.3.3) If we cannot agree on this point, then we are soooo faaar apart that nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, can bring us closer.

4.4) Now regarding the paragraph about causality, determinism, and necessity. These are very intricate issues that require a fine analysis and they raise legitimate disagreements. But nothing you say about these matters refutes the distinction between contingent and necessary truths as Bill, I and others defend here.

4.4.1) Even if we accept that the physical world is deterministic (a huge assumption given current physical theories), it does not follow that the deterministic laws that govern this world are necessary: the world could have been governed by alternative laws of physics. So once again I do not see any argument that undermines the distinction here defended, even if we all go out of our way to accommodate as much as we possibly can from Objectivist Metaphysics except that which directly contradicts the distinction we defend.

5) I therefore conclude that while your presentation of Objectivism is much more lucid and thorough than other proponents of this view, it offers no credible argument that might threaten the distinction between contingency and necessity.

peter

Dr. Binswanger,

A further note on the point made in (4.3.1) in my previous post:

To assume that from the following two sentences:
(a) There exists a fact f such that the proposition P corresponds to (or identifies) f;
(b) ‘P’ is false (not-true).
it follows that
(c) P is necessary;

is just like the following incorrect inference:

(i) It is necessary that (if John is a bachelor, then John is a male);
Therefore;
(ii) It is necessary that John is a bachelor.

The necessity in (i) is attached to the whole conditional and it is supported by the definition of the term 'bachelor'. But one cannot infer from this fact that the antecedent (John is a bachelor) is itself necessary; nor for that matter that the consequent (John is a male) by itself is necessary. After all John could just as well been happily married and moreover 'John' could have been a name of a female. Under the later circumstances, (i) still would have been true.

Similarly:
while the following is true
(iii) It is necessary that (If the proposition 'P' corresponds to the fact f, then 'P' is true);
it does not follow that
(iv) It is necessary that 'P' correspond to fact f;
because f could be a contingent fact and the world could have been such that f did not obtain;
nor does it follow from (iii) that
(v) It is necessary that 'P' is true;
because 'P' could be a contingent truth and the fact to which it correspond might have not obtained.

peter

I thought this got posted earlier, but now it seems to have disappeared.

--------------------------

As an actual Objectivist philosopher, let me attempt to address Bill's critique of Peikoff's article.

First, there's a significant typo in the first line of his reproduction of Peikoff's last paragraph. Peikoff did *not* write: "Truth is the identification of a fact WITH reality." (As someone pointed out, that is nonsensical.) The actual sentence is: "Truth is identification of a fact OF reality."

(For the merely connotative difference between "fact" and "fact of reality," see _Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology_, p. 243).

Now on to the main point. The Objectivist position is twofold:

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.)

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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 could say more, but I've gone on long enough.


Peter Lupu,

Thank you for your response. Yes, the name-calling and question-begging is irritating.

You write:

"common sense distinguishes between facts that *could have been otherwise* and facts which *could not been otherwise*."

Yes, and Objectivism not only agrees with that but insists on that. That's a distinction among facts. And, as I said, you can distinguish among truths *about* what could have been otherwise and truths *about* what couldn't. But the difference doesn't attach to the truth-relation. If F is, then the proposition asserting F, is true. Full stop.

Secondly, Objectivists object to the word "contingent" as a term to describe what could have been othewrise. "Contingent" carries too much baggage in its association with the "iffy," the "pure happenstance," etc. The only thing that is actually non-necessitated is human volition and its effects. To highlight this, we use the term "man-made" to describe non-necessitated facts.

"historically it provided the foundation for a variety of offshoots of similarly structured logics such as doxastic logic, deontic logic, etc."

Well, modal logic, as far as my limited familiarity is concerned, seems at least consistent and does square with what some would call "our intuitions" (but which I think actually means, here: how we use concepts). But I would probably take issue with the validity of doxastic logic and deontic logic. But let's waive that.

Objectivism is a huge champion of the Burden of Proof principle, so I was glad to see that brought in here. I think the burden of proof is on anyone who asserts the need for a distinction. In this case, the burden of proof is met by those who (like all sides in our discussion) distinguish between necessitated and non-necessitated occurrences. But what about the assertion of a distinction among kinds of truth (not kinds of truths, but of truth)? Where is the evidence that anything at all is lost by dropping the distinction? Remember, we're not dropping the vital distinction between truths *about* the necessary and truths *about* the man-made; we continue to make the metaphysical distinction, just drop the epistemic one (about truth).

"You seem to endorse a correspondence theory of truth, but rename it by the word ‘identification’. I am troubled by this terminology for various reasons, but will simply assume that by ‘identification’ you mean that a true proposition corresponds to the relevant facts in the world that make it true."

Well, now you've hit on a deep issue. I didn't know if anyone would pick up on this. Good for you that you did. The term "identification" in Rand's writings is a term of art. It has the same meaning as in common usage, but one that is refined and canonized, as it were. The short explanation is that "identification" is the awareness of identity. For Objectivism, both "awareness" and "identity" are "axiomatic concepts" (the first axiomatic concept being "existence").

So "identification" stresses the awareness part of truth, rather than "correspondence" which can seem like a relation between marks on paper and facts. In this sense, the Objectivist theory of truth encompasses the point Strawson makes against Russell, about sentences having meaning only as used by a mind, in a context. It is not clear to me, by the way, whether this theory of truth is a "new and improved" version of the correspondence theory or actually a fourth theory of truth. I go back and forth on that.

The relevance of "identification" as opposed to (plain vanilla) correspondence is precisely in regard to truth, and precisely in relation to the Burden of Proof Principle. Objectivism holds that assertions without any evidence to support them are neither true nor false, but cognitively meaningless. They fail to refer; they aren't even *propositions*, just emotional ejaculations. One subhead in Peikoff's book, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, in the chapter on reason, is "The Arbitrary as Neither True nor False." "Arbitrary" is the term we use for assertions devoid of the slightest evidentiary backing.

So if Nostradamus pronounced "On December 27, 1820, an earthquake will strike Lisbon," his statement is not true--even if an earthquake strikes Lisbon on that date. If that's a case of correspondence, then so much the worse for the correspondence theory; his words were not an *identification* of anything.

Moving on.

"There is nothing incoherent about the idea that while all true propositions correspond to certain facts (those that make them true), there are different kinds of facts and therefore there are different kinds of truths."

Yes, yes! That's exactly our position. There are different kinds of truths--but not of what it is to be true.

"So from the mere fact that we recognize one and only one relationship that is uniform between true propositions and facts (call it ‘identification’ or ‘correspondence’ or whatever) it certainly does not follow that there cannot be a distinction between contingent and necessary truths."

But I have been at pains to argue that "necessary truth" is systematically ambiguous between: a) true about a necessary fact, and b) a special kind of truth-relation. This is the distinction between the relation and the relata. The relation is neither necessary or contingent; the relata are either necessary or contingent (i.e., man-made).

"We may cheerfully admit this distinction and the accompanying characterization in terms of *origin* and so forth. The question is how does this distinction is supposed to assist in undermining the completely different distinction between contingent vs. necessary facts?"

It doesn't! It is what supports that distinction (except for the baggage-laden term "contingent").

"Surely you do not wish to suggest that your proposed distinction can replace the distinction between contingent and necessary facts"

Not even replace--it is that distinction, but with more clear terminology.

"The fact that there are exactly 34,671 leaves on this tree in my backyard is contingent but not man-made"

Well, I spoke too fast. If that's the distinction you want, we indeed want to replace it. Our position, like Leibniz's, is that all non-chosen events are necessary (couldn't have been otherwise). Assuming there's no influence of human choices on the leafing of a tree, it *has* to have the number of leaves it does have. Aside from man's free will, everything is necessitated.

And that view of causality--that it is either volitional causality or deterministic causality--is what leads us to our views, not some "logical blunder" of misplaced modal operators as is suggested by:

"BUT! From the above it simply does not follow, nor does it mean that, the proposition P is necessary. And this point was made clearly, explicitly, and forcefully by Bill. To say otherwise is to be involved in a logical blunder."

To repeat what I said in the previous post:

"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.'

"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."

In other words, the Objectivist view on the proper usage of "necessary" is supported by our ontology, not by a deduction from "If F then necessarily p is true" to "If F then p is necessarily true" or anything of the like.

Finally, you write:

"Even if we accept that the physical world is deterministic (a huge assumption given current physical theories), it does not follow that the deterministic laws that govern this world are necessary: the world could have been governed by alternative laws of physics."

But that begs the question at issue. As I wrote in the last post:

"The laws of physics are inherent in the nature of matter."

You disagree. Okay, but IF you agreed that there can be no alternative laws of physics, would you then agree with our position on necessity vs. choice? If not, then we have some epistemological disagreement somewhere, yet to be pinpointed. If so, then what we should be discussing is metaphysics--specifically causality, identity, and determinateness.

In other words, I don't see how the laws of physics "could have been otherwise." Depending on what? The whim of a Creator? You know we reject that. So, if the laws of physics that do obtain could have been otherwise, what made them be as they are? Call it X. Then what made X obtain? Y? You see the regress.

Whereas with man-made facts, we can state what that X is--i.e., makes what could have been otherwise yet be what it turned out to be: human choice. Because I chose to write on this subject, I write on this subject. And because I choose now to stop . . .

Dr. Binswanger,

Thanks for your response.
It will take me a couple of days to respond to your latest post due to certain personal reasons. I am thinking I will first try to establish the areas of agreement and then proceed to disputed areas and see whether we can make progress on those. At least we can carve out where exactly we disagree and pin down the nature of this disagreement. I think that would be progress. I am sure Bill is preparing a response as well.

Be Well

peter

Dr. Binswanger,

General Comment:
I think it would be useful to distinguish explicitly between areas of *provisional* agreement and areas of disagreement. I emphasize ‘provisional’ for the following reason: we are threading here on a very tumultuous territory. We have disagreements about substantive issues; that much is clear and it is fine as far as it goes. However, these disagreements are liable to mask a vast gap about fundamental conceptual issues, basic terminology, first metaphysical principles, and even the basic logical principles that govern any discourse of this kind, etc. We are discoursing, as it were, across (what I am tempted to call) radically different philosophical cultures. And since philosophical debate is a kind of “mental contact sport”, unless we unveil these deeper disagreements and figure out our respective stand on them we are going to be perpetually circling around each other without ever really engaging with each other.

(A) Areas of Agreement.

1) Truth:
1.1) Some terminological matters:
1.1.1) *Truth-bearers* are whatever entities (propositions, statements, sentences, utterances) that are properly said to be either true or false.
1.1.2) *Truth-makers* are whatever entities (facts, state of affairs, conditions, etc.,) that determine the truth-value of a truth-bearer.
1.1.3) *Truth-relation* is whatever relationship (correspondence, “identification”, etc.,) that exists between a true truth-bearer and its corresponding truth-maker.
1.2) Agreement About truth:
1.2.1) We all agree (Bill included) that there is only one truth-relation between the set of all true truth-bearers and the set of all truth-makers.
1.2.2) We also all agree that the truth-property which applies to all true truth-bearers is uniform and the same.
1.2.3) So while the set of all true truth-bearers may include a variety of subsets (e.g., chemical truths, historical truths, mathematical truths, philosophical truths, etc.,) all of these truths are the same with respect to having the value *true* (“qua-truth”, as you emphasized). This truth-value depends only upon whether there is a suitable truth-relationship between the truth-bearer and the truth-maker and not on the specific subject matter or content of the truth-bearer.

2) Facts:
2.1) Facts are truth-makers;
Note: Facts may not be the *only* truth-makers. That depends upon how we understand the term ‘fact’ or ‘state of affairs’. For instance, we may disagree at some point (we will!) on whether there are non-physical facts (e.g., mathematical and/or logical facts may be viewed as not physical). If we so disagree, then we have two options: (i) allow the term ‘fact’ to coincide with the term ‘truth-maker’ generally and distinguish between different kinds of facts such as physical-facts, abstract-facts, etc, (ii) restrict the term fact to physical-facts and allow for the sake of the dispute that there may be truth-makers that are other than facts. We may adjudicate these matters at a later stage.
2.2) There may be several ways of classifying the set of all truth-makers into subclasses: e.g., there may be chemical, physical, historical, mathematical truth-makers. These will allow one classification of truth-makers into certain subsets.
2.3) There may also be a distinction to be made between facts that stem from human volitional actions and those that do not. So this is a different classification of truth-makers in terms of their putative *causal-origins*.
Note: I emphasize that we cannot at this stage identify the class of truth-makers with the class of facts as the later were so far individuated. Otherwise we are going to get the result that the truth-makers of mathematical and logical truths are either the result of human volition action or the result of deterministic causal events, both of which I at least will wholeheartedly and vehemently deny.
2.3.1) The distinction between facts that originate from human volition and those that do not depends on (a) whether there is free-will; (b) whether the physical world is deterministic; (c) whether free-will is compatible with a deterministic view of the physical world.
2.3.2*) Let us assume that there is free will and that it is compatible with a deterministic world.

3) Causality:
3.1) There are causal factors in the world and these constitute some of the facts that are the truth-makers of some truths.
3.2) There are causal laws that might be deterministic. Assume they are.
3.3) A fact is *causally-necessary* just in case it is fully determined by the causal laws and certain initial conditions.
3.3.1) A human volitional action is not a causally-necessary fact, provided of course that there is free will.
3.3.1) In order to say that a causally-necessary fact might not have occurred as it in fact did occur it must make sense to say that
(a) one or more of the initial conditions of this fact *might not have occurred*;
and
(b) the actual causal-laws that govern the physical world *could have been different*.
3.3.2) Objectivist philosophers reject both (a) and (b).

4) Modal Concepts: (e.g., necessary, possible, contingent, etc):
4.1) There is a common sense usage of concepts (words) such as ‘necessary, ‘possible’, ‘contingent’. There is also a common sense usage of phrases such as ‘such-and-such could have been otherwise’ and ‘such-and-such could not have been otherwise’, where the phrase ‘such-and-such’ is a place-holder expression describing suitable truth-makers.
4.2) There is a system of logic called Modal Logic (ML) that deals with the logical properties of the concepts ‘necessary’, ‘possible’, ‘contingent’. ML is beyond reproach as a mathematical system.
4.3) There is a system of logic called Classical Logic (CL) that features certain axioms and theorems. CL is beyond reproach as a mathematical system.
4.4) Some relationships between Common sense, Modality, and Causality:
4.4.1) If a truth-maker is causally determined, then it is causally-necessary:
i.e., it is necessary with respect to the actual laws of the physical world. Therefore, this truth-maker could not have been *causally* otherwise.
4.4.2) If a truth-maker is not causally determined, then it is causally-possible:
i.e., the occurrence of this truth-maker (fact) and its non-occurrence are both causally-possible. Therefore, this truth-maker could have been *causally* otherwise insofar as the actual causal laws of the world.
4.4.3) Putative examples of causally-possible truth-makers are those that originate with human volitional actions, provided free will exists.
4.4.4) The term ‘contingent’ is used within certain philosophical circles in order to mark out those truth-makers that in fact did occur in the world but the world could have been evolved in such a way that these truth-makers (facts) could have not occurred.
4.4.5) The term ‘contingent’ is rejected by Objectivist philosophers except at most when it applies to those truth-makers that originate with human volitional actions, if there are any.

5) Inferences:
5.1) The following inference is recognized by both Objectivist philosophers (e.g., Dr. Binswanger) as well as Bill, myself, and others as *invalid*:
(i) It is necessary that (if fact f occurred and ‘P’ expresses f, then ‘P’ is true);
Therefore;
(ii) If fact f occurred and ‘P’ expresses f, then it is necessary that ‘P’ is true.
5.2) Because we are all in agreement that the above inference [(i), (ii)] is invalid, we are all also in agreement that the following proposition that is central to Objectivist philosophy:
(O*) All non-volitional truth-makers (facts) are necessary.
is not a logical consequence of (i) *or any version, translation, reformulation, or any proposition that is equivalent to (i)*.
(5.2.1) Let P* be some proposition that is endorsed by Objectivist philosophers and that it entails, supports, or in any way grounds O*. Then we all agree upon the following:
(*) P* is not equivalent in any way shape or form to (i).
I think that these are so far areas on which we can agree.

(B) Areas of Disagreement:
1) Truth.
1.1) “Identification” and Correspondence:
Dr. Binswanger says the following:
“The relevance of "identification" as opposed to (plain vanilla) correspondence is precisely in regard to truth, and precisely in relation to the Burden of Proof Principle. Objectivism holds that assertions without any evidence to support them are neither true nor false, but cognitively meaningless. They fail to refer; they aren't even *propositions*, just emotional ejaculations.”
1.2) First some terminological points and questions:
1.2.1) An ‘assertion’ is a physical act that features certain properties: it takes place at a given time, place, and performed by someone.
Do we agree on that?
1.2.2) Propositions are not physical acts. Therefore, they do not have physical properties such as place, time, etc.
Do we agree on that?
1.2.3) There are propositions that were never asserted and will never be asserted. Therefore, the set of all assertions and the set of all propositions do not coincide: i.e., the set of the former (assertions) corresponds only to a proper subset of the set of all propositions.
Do we agree on that?
1.3) I (and I am sure Bill and others) disagree with both of the following claims (I vehemently):
(a*) “assertions without any evidence are neither true nor false”;
(b*) assertions without any evidence are “cognitively meaningless”.
1.3.1) If the concept of “identification” that Objectivist philosophers use to name the relationship between truth-bearers and truth-makers is operationally defined or in any way constrained by (1.1.2)-(a*)-(b*) above, then it is not (I repeat—not) to be identified with the concept of correspondence which I, Bill, and others deem to be the relationship between truth-makers and truth-bearers.
1.4) (a*) and (b*) are straight out of Dummett’s recipe-book of verificationism about truth and meaning, both of which I reject.
1.4.1) Moreover, if it turns out that you reject the distinction between propositions and assertions, then we are even more far apart.
1.4.2) I shall not presently argue against (a*) and (b*). I only want to mark the differences in this section.
2) Facts.
2.1) I believe that there are other than physical facts. For instance, logical, mathematical as well as perhaps other kinds of truths are true because they correspond to non-physical truth-makers.
2.1.1) I think Objectivists do not accept that there are non-physical facts.
Do you?
2.1.2) I also think that the notion of “identification” as you define it is not compatible with the existence of non-physical facts. If so, then this is another reason for refusing to identify “identification and “correspondence”.
Do you agree?
2.2) If Objectivists refuse to accept non-physical facts of any kind, then the class of facts that originate with free-choice (the so-called volitional facts) are also physical and bound by physical determinism. Therefore, the fundamental distinction between made-made and non-man-made facts is a distinction without a difference.
How would you make this distinction under these circumstances?
3) Causality.
3.1) We seem to disagree on the following propositions about causality:
3.1.1) The causal nexus of the world (i.e., all the causal facts there are including causal laws) are not all the truth-makers that exist.
3.1.2) The actual physical laws that govern the physical world *could have been otherwise* in the sense that while the actual physical laws are compatible with the logical truths of CL (classical logic), so are their negations.
3.1.3) The initial conditions present antecedently to any given event (causal fact) *could have been otherwise* either because the physical laws could have been otherwise even in a very slight manner ((3.1.2) above) or because the initial conditions of the first moment of the universe allow for minor variations that distribute throughout the expansion of the universe into a variety of different possibilities compatible with the same laws or because the laws of physics are probabilistic all the way down (or any combination thereof).
3.2) Objecting to the existence of non-physical facts to ground free-choice together with denying the possibility that any physical event that actually occurred *could have been otherwise* entails that there is no free-will and therefore the distinction between man-made and non-man-made events cannot be made at all.
4) Modal Concepts:
4.1) The notion of necessity, possibility, and contingency that Bill, myself, and others employ is one that relates a given truth or fact to the laws of CL (classical logic) or to the truths of CL.
4.2) Some very rough definitions along the above lines:
4.2.1) A propositions is said to be possible just in case it as well as its negation are consistent with the truths of CL;
4.2.2) A proposition is necessary just in case it is consistent with CL and its negation is not possible;
4.2.3) A proposition is contingent just in case it is true and its negation is possible.
4.3) A *possible world* is a description of the world such that it together with the truths of CL yield a consistent set of propositions.
4.4) It follows from the above that the actual laws of physics could have been otherwise; for that simply means that we can have a consistent description of the world whereby the laws of physics are different than the ones actually in existence.
4.4.1) Similarly, (so far as we know) we can have a description of the world that is consistent with the truths of CL such that a particular physical event (e.g., there are exactly 34,671 leaves on the tree in my backyard) could have been otherwise. If the world is strongly deterministic in a manner that makes every event causally-necessary, then we can alter some of the initial conditions in a manner that yields the other possibility to materialize instead of the one actually did.
5) We disagree on O*:
5.1) I think that there is a confusion within O* about whether all physical facts are *causally* necessary vs. *necessary* in the sense of entailed by the truths of CL. While some facts may be causally necessary (if determinism is true), they are not necessary in the sense that they or their opposite are compatible with the truths of CL.
5.2) The only way you can reject the notion of *necessity* in question and, therefore, all the rest of the accompanying notions is if you reject the notion of consistency with the truths of CL or reject CL itself.
5.3) I think you must reject CL (classical logic) given your commitment to verificationism about truth and meaning as exemplified by (a*) and (b*). Therefore, we disagree on the very nature of logic, truth, and meaning.
Do you agree?
Final Thoughts:
Before I will present any arguments against certain points you made it will be useful to see whether we agree on the things I stated as point of agreement (A) and those I listed in (B) as serious points of disagreement. I think deciding these matters first will save time and focus matters on the central points in dispute.
peter



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