This is a course in a particular strand of contemporary analytic metaphysics that studies the three intertwining concepts in the title. These are three of the most fundamental concepts that metaphysicians, past and present, have been interested in. We will consider the following three key questions:
- What is truth? What is it for something to be true? Is there any such thing?
- Are there any such things as facts, not in the ordinary sense but as self-standing things in their own right? Are they the foundational building blocks of reality?
- Do properties like redness, humanity, virtue, exist? If they do, what on earth are they?
We’ll actually study these questions in reverse order. This is partly because talking about truth pushes us further out of metaphysics and into its intersection with the philosophy of language, and partly because we can best understand contemporary theories of truth if we understand what properties and facts are, according to different theories.
The topics we’ll cover will be taken from the following. We will spend about half the course on properties and facts, and about half on truth.
- Properties: realism about universals; nominalism; the ‘ostrich nominalism’ debate; tropes
- Facts: Facts/states of affairs and their nature; arguments for their existence
- Truth: correspondence theories of truth, deflationism, the explanatory role of truth, the normative nature of truth, nihilism about truth.
Some of what we discuss will be very contemporary, but almost all of it covers topics from the last fifty years or so.
Students who complete this course will gain an understanding of the most popular theories of properties, facts, and truth, how these concepts interrelate, and what major debates are going on about these things
Assessment is by an essay (2000 words for MA students and 4000 words for PhD students). You are welcome to submit a formative essay to get some written feedback to improve on for your final essay. I will provide a list of suggested essay questions but you are welcome to choose your own so long as I approve it first.