The Metaphysics of Absences – Lecture II: In DenialStephen Mumford (Durham University)
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Instead of asserting ¬P, we could deny P. This has been overlooked as an alternative to assertion partly because Frege and others accept the equivalences: 1) between Assertion: [¬P] and Denial: [P], and 2) between Assertion: [P] and Denial: [¬P]. But these are not equivalences. Assertion and denial play different functions. Assertion aims at truth, commits to a way the world is and expresses a judgment. In contrast, denial aims at falsehood, makes no commitment to a way the world is, withholds judgment and is conventionally responsive. A denial is not, then, the same as an assertion of a negation. That Frege’s logic contains an assertion stroke but not a denial stroke is a case of affirmation bias. Recognition of the special role of denial can be useful to the Parmenidean, whose aim is to avoid affirming negatives.
Stephen Mumford is Professor of Metaphysics in the Department of Philosophy at Durham University. He is the author of Dispositions (Oxford, 1998), Russell on Metaphysics (Routledge, 2003), Laws in Nature (Routledge, 2004), David Armstrong (Acumen, 2007), Watching Sport: Aesthetics, Ethics and Emotion (Routledge, 2011), Getting Causes from Powers (Oxford, 2011 with Rani Lill Anjum), Metaphysics: a Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2012), Causation: a Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2013, with Anjum), Glimpse of Light (Bloomsbury, 2017), What Tends to Be (Routledge, 2018, with Anjum) and Causation in Science (Oxford, 2018, with Anjum). His next book will be Football: the Philosophy Behind the Game (Polity, 2019). He is currently working on a book on the metaphysics of absences, which is under contract with Oxford University Press.
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