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Negative facts

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-N118-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2005
Retrieved June 21, 2024, from

Article Summary

If propositions are made true in virtue of corresponding to facts, then what are the truth-makers of true negative propositions such as ‘The apple is not red’? Russell argued that there must be negative facts to account for what makes true negative propositions true and false positive propositions false. Others, more parsimonious in their ontological commitments, have attempted to avoid them. Wittgenstein rejected them since he was loath to think that the sign for negation referred to a negative element in a fact. A contemporary of Russell’s, Raphael Demos, attempted to eliminate them by appealing to ‘incompatibility’ facts. More recently, Armstrong has appealed to the totality of positive facts as the ground of the truth of true negative propositions. Oaklander and Miracchi have suggested that the absence or non-existence of the positive fact (which is not itself a further fact) is the basis of a positive proposition being false and therefore of the truth of its negation.

Citing this article:
Oaklander, L. Nathan. Negative facts, 2005, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-N118-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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