I—Facts, Factives, and Contrafactives
Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume
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Holton, R. (2017). I—Facts, Factives, and Contrafactives. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume, 91 (1), 245-266. https://doi.org/10.1093/arisup/akx003
Frege begins his discussion of factives in ‘On Sense and Reference’ with an example of a purported contrafactive, that is, a verb that entails, or presupposes, the falsity of the complement sentence. But the verb he cites, ‘waehnen’, is now obsolete, and native speakers are sceptical about whether it really was a contrafactive. Despite the profusion of factive verbs, there are no clear examples of contrafactive propositional attitude verbs in English, French or German (or indeed any other Indo-European languages). This paper attempts to give an explanation of this, and to use this to shed light on the behaviour of factives more generally. The suggestion is that factive propositional attitude verbs take facts, not propositions, as the referents of their complement sentences; and that as there are no contra-facts (merely false propositions), there can be no contrafactives. This claim is also used to help explain Timothy Williamson’s observation that there is no stative propositional attitude factive that requires only belief. Various conclusions are drawn within a broadly ‘knowledge first’ approach.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/arisup/akx003
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/285421