“A moderate-grain theory of states of affairs” by Daniel Graham Marshall

February 20, 2020

A state of affairs is either a way things are or a way things aren’t. The two most popular theories of states of affairs are the coarse-grain theory, according to which states of affairs are identical if and only if they are necessarily equivalent (that is, if and only if, necessarily, they either both obtain or they both fail to obtain), and the structure theory, according to which states of affairs are structured in the same kind of way sentences are structured. Despite their popularity, both these theories have serious problems. This paper proposes a new moderate-grain theory of states of affairs that avoids these problems by individuating states of affairs more finely than the coarse-grain theory and more coarsely than the structure theory. According to the proposed theory, two states of affairs are identical if and only if they are necessarily equivalent and necessarily about the same things. In addition to arguing that this proposed theory is superior to both the coarse-grain theory and the structure theory, the paper argues that the proposed theory is superior to other existing moderate-grain theories of states of affairs.

Date: 7 November 2019
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Venue: Philosophy Meeting Room (AS3-05-23)

About Dan Marshall
Dan Marshall primarily works in metaphysics and in related areas in logic, philosophy of language and the philosophy of science. He has a MSc in mathematics from the University of Melbourne and a PhD in philosophy from the Australian National University. He completed his PhD in 2011 and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.