State of affairs (philosophy)

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In philosophy, a state of affairs (German: Sachverhalt), also known as a situation, is a way the actual world must be in order to make some given proposition about the actual world true; in other words, a state of affairs (situation) is a truth-maker, whereas a proposition is a truth-bearer. Whereas states of affairs (situations) either obtain or fail-to-obtain, propositions are either true or false.[1]


In a sense of "state of affairs" favored by Ernest Sosa, states of affairs are situational conditions. In fact, in the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy,[2] Sosa defines a condition to be a state of affairs, "way things are" or situation—most commonly referred to by a nominalization of a sentence. The expression "Snow's being white", which refers to the condition snow's being white, is a nominalization of the sentence "Snow is white".[2] "The truth of the proposition that "snow is white" is a nominalization of the sentence "the proposition that snow is white is true". Snow's being white is a necessary and sufficient condition for the truth of the proposition that snow is white. Conditions in this sense may be called situational.

Usually, necessity and sufficiency relate conditions of the same kind. Being an animal is a necessary attributive condition for being a dog. Fido's being an animal is a necessary situational condition for Fido's being a dog.

See also


  1. ^ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online
  2. ^ a b Ernest Sosa, 1999. "Condition". Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy. R.Audi, Ed. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. p. 171.


  • A Historical Survey and Conceptual Account of States of Affairs, Matthew Roberts, Ph.D. dissertation
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