The impossibility of Naturalist brute facts

1.) Scientific explanations require laws and initial conditions. More generally, some some intelligible process arising from a given fact.

2.) Take the given fact. Facts are given differently from axioms. Both the fact and the axiom enter explanation as a proposition, but  the axiomatic proposition is one where we see the unity of subject and predicate while we do not see this for the fact.

3.) Either an explanation of the proposition is logically possible or not. If not, we must either have an axiom or what nowadays gets called the “brute fact”. Note that this is not a “brute fact” as first coined by Anscombe to describe more or less basic levels of explanation, but as it nowadays gets used to forestall theistic arguments and/or to establish some Naturalisms.

4.) Brute facts only exist if there is some proposition that (a) cannot logically be the conclusion of some line of reasoning and (b) is not axiomatic. In other words, there must be some proposition whose unity cannot be explained either by its own terms or any other. The “cannot” there needs to be very strong: there would be a logical impossibility in the unity of the proposition arising from its own terms or by those terms in unity with others, since allowing for the first logical possibility would make the proposition an axiom (and so not a brute fact) and the latter would be to deny it was a brute fact altogether.

5.) But if it is logically impossible to unify terms either by themselves or another term, we have no more reason to affirm predicate than to deny it. I stress the logical impossibility because we see all sorts of facts around us that are neither axiomatic nor for which we see any obvious connection. It’s presently a fact that  “My couch is 15 feet from the overgrown raspberry garden”. There is nothing axiomatic in this, and I’m a bit puzzled at the thought of what I would use to conclude that (a ruler maybe?) Now if I wanted this to be a brute fact I’d have to keep insisting it was not an axiom (which would be easy) while making the additional claim that there is a logical impossibility in its being a conclusion of some previous propositions. But that’s (a) nuts and (b) an argument that it could not be a fact at all.

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