A historical survey and conceptual account of states of affairs

2006 2006

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Abstract (summary)

States of affairs are entities like snow's being white. This dissertation encompasses two projects. First, I provide a historical survey of the concept of state of affairs as it has been used in the history of ontology. Second, I provide a novel conceptual account of states of affairs.

In chapter one I survey early theories of states of affairs, which include those of Rudolf Hermann Lotze (1817--1881), Carl Stumpf (1848--1936), Edmund Husserl (1859--1938), Alexius Meinong (1853--1920), Anton Marty (1847--1914), and Adolf Reinach (1883--1917). I conclude that Rudolph Lotze was the first theorist of states of affairs.

In chapter two I examine Ludwig Wittgenstein's (1889--1951) theory. I conclude with Max Black that Wittgenstein did not countenance possible states of affairs.

In chapter three I examine prominent contemporary accounts of states of affairs including those of Roderick Chisholm (1916--1999), John Pollock, Reinhardt Grossman, Alvin Plantinga, Ramon Lemos, and David Armstrong.

In chapter four I consider methodological preliminaries and five desiderata for any successful theory of states of affairs. I consider differences between sentence nominalizations and the possible worlds approach to states of affairs; both considerations lead to the preliminary conclusion that propositions are distinct from states of affairs.

In chapter five I construct propositions out of abstract designators, concepts, and operators (DCO's). Propositions are maximally fine-grained potential objects of belief and are logical forms of DCO's. Propositions are irreducible, ante rem universals.

In chapter six, I produce a new theory of states of affairs. They are maximally fine-grained objects of intentional mental states like entertaining. They are second-order logical forms of DCO's like propositions. I offer identity conditions for propositions and states of affairs and show how they can be isomorphic. This logical isomorphism serves to give truth conditions for propositions. I consider this theory in light of actualism and then apply it to a correspondence theory of truth. I briefly consider tensed propositions and events in light of this sketch of correspondence. I then show that my desiderata have been satisfied. I conclude by providing comparison and contrast between this new theory and its contemporary competitors.

Indexing (details)

0422: Philosophy
Identifier / keyword
Philosophy, religion and theology; Metaphysics; Ontology; Propositions; States of affairs
A historical survey and conceptual account of states of affairs
Roberts, Matthew Erskine
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 67/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Tooley, Michael
University of Colorado at Boulder
University location
United States -- Colorado
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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