, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 479–493 | Cite as

Anti-Positionalism’s Regress

  • Jan Willem Wieland
Original paper


This paper is about the Problem of Order, which is basically the problem how to account for both the distinctness of facts like a’s preceding b and b’s preceding a, and the identity of facts like a’s preceding b and b’s succeeding a. It has been shown that the Standard View fails to account for the second part and is therefore to be replaced. One of the contenders is Anti-Positionalism. As has recently been pointed out, however, Anti-Positionalism falls prey to a regress argument which is to prove its failure. In the paper we spell out this worry, show that the worry is a serious one, and distinguish four possible strategies for Anti-Positionalism to deal with it.


Relation Order Fact Anti-Positionalism Infinite regress 



Many thanks to Joop Leo for explaining Anti-Positionalism to me (see Leo 2008), to two anonymous referees and my MA examiners Dennis Schulting, Arianna Betti and Paul Dekker for helpful feedback, and to Fraser MacBride for attracting my attention to Russell’s text cited in §6. The author is PhD fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders at Ghent University.


  1. Fine K (1982) First-order modal theories III: facts. Synthese 53:43–122Google Scholar
  2. Fine K (2000) Neutral relations. Philos Rev 109:1–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Fine K (2007) Reply to Fraser MacBride. Dialectica 61:57–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Leo J (2008) Modeling relations. J Philos Log 37:353–385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. MacBride F (2007) Neutral relations revisited. Dialectica 61:25–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Orilia F (2009) The problem of order in relational states of affairs: a Leibnizian view. In: Bonino G, Egidi R (eds) Fostering the ontological turn. Gustav Bergmann. Ontos, Frankfurt, pp 161–185Google Scholar
  7. Russell B (1903) The principles of mathematics (2nd ed. 1937). Allen & Unwin, LondonGoogle Scholar
  8. Russell B (1913) On the acquaintance involved in our knowledge of relations. In: Eames ER (ed) Theory of knowledge. The 1913 manuscript (1989). Allen & Unwin, London, pp 79–89Google Scholar
  9. Wieland JW (2010) Filling the typical gap in a regress argument. Logique & Analyse, to appearGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Logic and Philosophy of ScienceGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

Personalised recommendations