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Res Philosophica

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published on December 19, 2013

M. Oreste Fiocco
DOI: 10.11612/resphil.2014.91.3.3

On Simple Facts

It is plausible that every true representation is made true by something in the world beyond itself. I believe that a simple fact is the truthmaker of each true proposition. Simple facts are not familiar entities. This lack of familiarity might lead many to regard them with suspicion, to think that including them in one’s ontology is an ad hoc maneuver. Although such suspicion is warranted initially, it is, I believe, ultimately unfounded. In this paper, I first present what I take to be the simplest argument for simple facts. I then clarify what a simple fact is supposed to be by elucidating the way in which such entities are simple and elaborating an account of their nature. The simplest argument for simple facts relies on a premise that is deeply plausible and yet not uncontroversial, so I present a second argument that forgoes this premise. The second argument is more subtle—and shows the relevance to this discussion of unity from complexity, a metaphysical notion of profound importance—and yet leads to the same conclusion: simple facts exist. I end by considering some concerns one might have regarding the existence of simple facts or the fundamental role that I maintain they have in making true our thoughts and claims about the world.

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