Lesson 4

Lesson 4 - Outline: Chapter 3-Molecular Propositions, but...

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Outline: Chapter 3—Molecular Propositions, but no molecular facts Negative Facts Chapter 4—Propositions and Facts with more than one verb Chap. 3: A note about names and particulars: Remember, for Russell a proper name names a particular. And, we understand the name when we’re acquainted with the thing is names and know that it names it. Understanding predicates (qualities, relations, etc.) involves something different. To understand a predicate, such as ‘is red’, Russell thinks you must be able to apply propositions, of the form ‘X is red’. A note about terminology: Russell says that every sentence isn’t a subject predicate sentence. This may seem confusing. What he means is that there are some sentences which are statements of general fact, not simply statements of particular facts. (The particular is what Russell is considering a ‘subject’. If the sentence is a general statement, not about a particular, then it’s not a subject-predicate sentence on R’s view.) Molecular Propositions: At the end of the last chapter, we had the introduction of a first level of complexity for propositions and facts: atomic propositions/facts. Atomic propositions are those involving only one verb, and atomic facts are those involving only one quality or relation. But, we now add more complexity into our system, at least at the level of propositions. So, we have logical operators such as ‘and,’ ‘or,’ ‘if/then,’ and ‘if and only if’ (or, iff, for short). Now, clearly, we can use these operators to stick together atomic sentences/propositions. So, I can say, ‘Tom went to the bank,’ and I can say, ‘Sally went to the store,’ and, using the or-operator, I can say, ‘Tom went to the bank or Sally went to the store.’ Now, remember one of our central assumptions: facts make propositions true or false. Suppose the sentence, ‘Tom went to the bank or Sally went to the store,’ is true. Is there a single fact that makes it true? Suppose that there is.
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If there is, then we have here a new level of complexity, we have a fact involving two properties or relations, since the property of going to the bank is distinct from the property of going to the store . Now, Russell is trying to keep his logical atomism—his account of what there is—as simple as possible. (We know he’s a fan of Occam’s razor.) So, he would like to avoid this complexity. (Also, since where the complexity of a proposition and that of a fact correspond, each component of a proposition reveals a component of a fact (this seems to be a tacit assumption of Russell,) if a single fact makes the disjunctive (or) proposition true, we would have to have a particular that mirrors ‘or’.) But, Russell thinks we don’t have to suppose there’s a single fact which makes the proposition true. “For the present I do not think any difficulties will arise from the supposition that
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This note was uploaded on 03/20/2008 for the course PHIL 229 taught by Professor Phelan during the Spring '08 term at UNC.

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Lesson 4 - Outline: Chapter 3-Molecular Propositions, but...

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