A minimal truthmaker for a given proposition is the smallest portion of reality which makes this proposition true. Minimal truthmakers are frequently mentioned in the literature, but there has been no systematic account of what they are or of their importance. In this article we shall clarify the notion of a minimal truthmaker and argue that there is reason to think that at least some propositions have minimal truthmakers. We shall then argue that the notion can play a useful role (...) in truthmaker theory, by helping to explain the truth of certain propositions as precisely as possible. (shrink)
Consider a certain red rose. The proposition that the rose is red is true because the rose is red. One might say as well that the proposition that the rose is red is made true by the rose’s being red. This, it has been thought, does not commit one to a truthmaker of the proposition that the rose is red. For there is no entity that makes the proposition true. What makes it true is how the rose is, and how (...) the rose is is not an entity over and above the rose. It is against this view that I shall argue in this paper. I shall argue that a signiﬁcant class of true propositions, including inessential predications like the proposition that the rose is red, are made true by entities. "No truthmaking without truthmakers" is my slogan. Although I have my view about what kinds of entities are truthmakers, I shall not argue for or presuppose that view here. All I shall argue for here is that if a proposition is made true by something, it is made true by some thing, but my argument will leave it open what kind of thing that thing is: it could be a fact or state of affairs, a trope, or any other sort of entity. (shrink)
I develop and defend a truthmaker semantics for the relevant logic R. The approach begins with a simple philosophical idea and develops it in various directions, so as to build a technically adequate relevant semantics. The central philosophical idea is that truths are true in virtue of specific states. Developing the idea formally results in a semantics on which truthmakers are relevant to what they make true. A very natural notion of conditionality is added, giving us relevant implication. I then (...) investigate ways to add conjunction, disjunction, and negation; and I discuss how to justify contraposition and excluded middle within a truthmaker semantics. (shrink)
On the truthmaker view of ontological commitment [Heil (From an ontological point of view, 2003); Armstrong (Truth and truthmakers, 2004); Cameron (Philosophical Studies, 2008)], a theory is committed to the entities needed in the world for the theory to be made true. I argue that this view puts truthmaking to the wrong task. None of the leading accounts of truthmaking—via necessitation, supervenience, or grounding—can provide a viable measure of ontological commitment. But the grounding account does provide a needed (...) constraint on what is fundamental. So I conclude that truthmaker commitments are not a rival to quantifier commitments, but a needed complement. The quantifier commitments are what a theory says exists, while the truthmaker commitments are what a theory says is fundamental. (shrink)
The correspondence theory of truth has experienced something of a revival recently in the form of the Truthmaker Axiom: whatever is true, something makes it true. We consider various postulates which have been proposed to characterize truthmaking, in particular, the Disjunction Thesis (DT), that whatever makes a disjunction true must make one or other disjunct true. In conjunction with certain other assumptions, DT leads to triviality. We show that there are elaborations of truthmaking on which DT holds (which (...) must therefore take steps to avoid the triviality); but that there are more plausible accounts of truthmaking on which DT fails. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with the relation between two important metaphysical notions, ‘truthmaking’ and ‘grounding’. I begin by considering various ways in which truthmaking could be explicated in terms of grounding, noting both strengths and weaknesses of these analyses. I go on to articulate a problem for any attempt to analyze truthmaking in terms of a generic and primitive notion of grounding based on differences we find among examples of grounding. Finally, I outline a more complex view (...) of how truthmaking and grounding could relate. On the view explored, truthmaking is a species of grounding differentiated from other species of grounding by the unique form of dependence it involves. (shrink)
I propose an account truthmaking that provides truthmakers for negative truths. The account replaces Truthmaker Necessitarianism with a "Duplication Principle", according to which a suitable entity T is a truthmaker for a proposition P just in case the existence of an appropriate counterpart of T entails the truth of P, where the counterpart relation is cashed out in terms of qualitative duplication. My account captures an intuitive notion of truthmakers as "things the way they are", validates two appealing principles (...) about entailment and containment proposed by David Armstrong, and invalidates the controversial Disjunction Thesis. (shrink)
In this paper I undermine the Entailment Principle according to which if an entity is a truthmaker for a certain proposition and this proposition entails another, then the entity in question is a truthmaker for the latter proposition. I argue that the two most promising versions of the principle entail the popular but false Conjunction Thesis, namely that a truthmaker for a conjunction is a truthmaker for its conjuncts. One promising version of the principle understands entailment as strict implication but (...) restricts the field of application of the principle to purely contingent truths (i.e. those that contain no necessary proposition at any level of analysis). But a conjunction of purely contingent truths strictly implies its conjuncts. So this version of the principle is committed to the Conjunction Thesis. The same is true of the version of the principle where entailment is understood in the sense of systems T, R, and E of relevant logic, since in these systems conjunctions entail their conjuncts. I argue that the Conjunction Thesis is false because a truthmaker is that in virtue of what a certain proposition is true and it is false that, for example, what the proposition that Peter is a man is true in virtue of is the conjunctive fact that Peter is man and Saturn is a planet (or the facts that Peter is a man and that Saturn is a planet taken together). I also argue against other versions of the principle. (shrink)
This article for the Stanford Encyclopedia for Philosophy provides a state of the art survey and assessment of the contemporary debate about truth-makers, covering both the case for and against truth-makers. It explores 4 interrelated questions about truth-makers, (1) What is it to be a truth-maker? (2) Which range, or ranges, of truths are eligible to be made true (if any are)? (3) What kinds of entities are truth-makers? (4) What is the motivation for adopting a theory of truth-makers? And (...) adds that there's another question to often put aside by metaphysicians but has critical consequences for truth-makers: (5) What are the truth-bearers? (shrink)
In this paper, I distinguish between two varieties of actualism—hardcore actualism and softcore actualism—and I critically discuss Ross Cameron’s recent arguments for preferring a softcore actualist account of the truthmakers for modal truths over hardcore actualist ones. In the process, I offer some arguments for preferring the hardcore actualist account of modal truthmakers over the softcore actualist one.
The paper criticizes the truthmaker principle that every truth is made true by something. If we interpret ‘something’ as quantifying into sentence position, we can interpret the principle as a harmless logical truth, but that is not what advocates of the principle intend. They interpret ‘something’ as quantifying into name position, and the principle as requiring the existence of truthmaking individuals. The paper argues that we have no reason to believe the principle on this interpretation. Moreover, the converse Barcan (...) formula is inconsistent with the existence of truthmaking individuals for contingent truths. Considerations about our ability to count possible truthmaking individuals are used to argue that we should prefer the converse Barcan formula. (shrink)
According to the Truthmaker Principle: every truth has a truthmaker. Attempts to come to grips with the Truthmaker Principle played a prominent role in Lewis’s metaphysical writings over the last fifteen years of his career. Although Lewis agreed that the truth of propositions must somehow be ontologically grounded, the Truthmaker Principle was too strong: it conflicted with two of Lewis’s most fundamental metaphysical assumptions, the uniqueness of composition and the Humean denial of necessary connections. Lewis endorsed instead a weaker principle: (...) Truth Supervenes on Being. But towards the end of his career, he changed course, noting that his critique of the Truthmaker Principle rested on essentialist assumptions that he, as a counterpart theorist, does not accept. Once freed from those assumptions, a counterpart theorist can accept the Truthmaker Principle after all without buying into unmereological composition and mysterious necessary connections. (shrink)
What are the ontological commitments of a sentence? In this paper I offer an answer from the perspective of the truthmaker theorist that contrasts with the familiar Quinean criterion. I detail some of the benefits of thinking of things this way: they include making the composition debate tractable without appealing to a neo-Carnapian metaontology, making sense of neo-Fregeanism, and dispensing with some otherwise recalcitrant necessary connections.
This paper attempts to locate, within an actualist ontology, truthmakers for modal truths: truths of the form or . In Sect. 1 I motivate the demand for substantial truthmakers for modal truths. In Sect. 21 criticise Armstrong's account of truthmakers for modal truths. In Sect. 31 examine essentialism and defend an account of what makes essentialist attributions true, but I argue that this does not solve the problem of modal truth in general. In Sect. 41 discuss, and dismiss, a theistic (...) account of the source of modal truth proposed by Alexander Pruss. In Sect. 5 I offer a means of (dis)solving the problem. (shrink)
Truthmakers are supposed to explain the truth of propositions, but it is unclear what kind of explanation truthmakers can provide. In this paper, I argue that ‘truthmaker explanations’ conflate two different explanatory projects. The first project is essentially concerned with truth, while the second project is concerned with reductive explanation. It is the latter project, I maintain, which is really central to truthmaking theory. On this basis, a general account of truthmaking can be formulated, which, when combined with (...) a specific theory of reduction (the ‘conceptual entailment approach’), yields a new analysis of truthmaking. This analysis is intuitively appealing and avoids the problem of necessary truths, which poses a serious obstacle for standard accounts. (shrink)
Presentism faces a serious challenge from truthmaker theory. Standard solutions to the truthmaker objection against presentism proceed in one of two ways. Easy road presentists invoke new entities to satisfy the requirements of truthmaker theory. Hard road presentists, by contrast, flatly refuse to give in to truthmaker demands. Recently, a third way has been proposed. This response seeks to address the truthmaking problem by tensing our truthmaker principles. These views, though intuitive, are under-developed. In this paper, I get serious (...) about a fundamentally tensed approach to truthmaking by sketching out the underlying ontological picture needed to make sense of tensed truthmaker theory. (shrink)
In this paper I examine the objection to truthmaker theory, forcibly made by David Lewis and endorsed by many, that it violates the Humean denial of necessary connections between distinct existences. In Sect. 1 I present the argument that acceptance of truthmakers commits us to necessary connections. In Sect. 2 I examine Lewis’ ‘Things-qua-truthmakers’ theory which attempts to give truthmakers without such a commitment, and find it wanting. In Sects. 3–5 I discuss various formulations of the denial of necessary connections (...) and argue that each of them is either false or compatible with truthmaker theory. In Sect. 6 I show how the truthmaker theorist can resist the charge that they are committed to necessary exclusions between possible existents. I conclude that there is no good objection to truthmaker theory on the grounds that it violates the Humean dictum. (shrink)
Amongst those who feel the pull of the truthmaker principle (that truths require for their truth a truthmaker to exist), there is disagreement as to whether it applies to all truths or merely to some distinguished subset. Those in the latter camp, the non-maximalists, argue that there are no ducks in my bath is true not because of something’s existence, but because of the lack of ducks in my bath. Maximalists, by contrast, insist that truths are made true by something’s (...) existence, and so appear to be committed to strange ‘negative’ entities in their ontology. As a consequence, non-maximalists appear to have a more common-sense ontology than maximalists. But things are not so straightforward. I will argue that if maximalism is committed to strange entities then so is non-maximalism; and if non-maximalism can do without strange entities, then so can maximalism. Either way, the non-maximalist has no ontological advantage over the maximalist. (shrink)
To what extent do true predications correspond to truthmakers in virtue of which those predications are true? One sort of predicate which is often thought to not be susceptible to an ontological treatment is a predicate for instantiation, or some corresponding predication (trope-similarity or set-membership, for example). This paper discusses this question, and argues that an "ontological" approach is possible here too: where this ontological approach goes beyond merely finding a truthmaker for claims about instantiation. Along the way a version (...) of the problem of the regress of instantiation is posed and solved. (shrink)
This paper is an attempt to apply the truthmaker approach, recently developed by a number of authors, to the problem of providing an adequate formulation of the is–ought gap. I begin by setting up the problem and criticizing some other accounts of how the problem should be stated; I then introduce the basic apparatus of truth-making and show how it may be extended to include both descriptive and normative truth-makers; I next consider how the gap principle should be formulated, attempting (...) to deal as systematically as possible with the ‘harmless’ counter-examples; I also consider the relationship between the gap principle and various other doctrines concerning the separation between the normative and descriptive realms; and I conclude this part of the paper with some general remarks in favor of adopting the truth-maker approach over some of the alternative approaches. The paper concludes with a formal appendix, which gives precise expression to some of claims made in the previous informal part of the paper. (shrink)
Peter Milne has tried to refure Truthmaker Maximalism. the thesis that every truth has a truthmaker, by producing a simple and direct counterexample to it, the sentence M: This sentence has no truthmaker. I argue that, contrary to what Milne argues, on Truthmaker Maximalism M is equivalent to the Liar, which gives the truthmaker maximalist a way to defend his position from Milne's counterexample: to argue that M expresses no proposition.
Jago and Loss have recently used variations on Fitch's paradox to argue that every truth has a truthmaker, and that every fact is grounded. In this paper, I show that Fitch's paradox can also be adapted to prove the exact opposite conclusions: no truth has a truthmaker, and no fact is grounded. All of these arguments are as dialectically effective as each other, and so they are all in bad company.
Creeping minimalism threatens to cloud the distinction between realist and anti-realist metaethical views. When anti-realist views equip themselves with minimalist theories of truth and other semantic notions, they are able to take on more and more of the doctrines of realism (such as the existence of moral truths, facts, and beliefs). But then they start to look suspiciously like realist views. I suggest that creeping minimalism is a problem only if moral realism is understood primarily as a semantic doctrine. I (...) argue that moral realism is better understood instead as a metaphysical doctrine. As a result, we can usefully regiment the metaethical debate into one about moral truthmakers: in virtue of what are moral judgments true? I show how the notion of truthmaking has been simmering just below the surface of the metaethical debate, and how it reveals one metaethical view (quasi-realism) to be a stronger contender than the others. (shrink)
We take as our starting point a thesis to the effect that, at least for true judgments of many varieties, there are parts of reality which make such judgments are true. We argue that two distinct components are involved in this truthmaker relation. On the one hand is the relation of necessitation, which holds between an object x and a judgment p when the existence of x entails the truth of p. On the other hand is the dual notion of (...) projection, which holds between a judgment p and an object x when the truth of p entails the existence of x. A truthmaker for a judgment p is then a necessitator for p which satisfies the further constraint that it is part of p’s projection. We offer a formal theory of the truthmaker relation thus defined, exploiting ontological tools of basic mereology and the theory of dependence. We then apply the theory to a range of problems connected with generic expressions, ellipsis, vagueness, and indexical and perceptual judgments. (shrink)
This paper gives an outline of truthmaker semantics for natural language against the background of standard possible-worlds semantics. It develops a truthmaker semantics for attitude reports and deontic modals based on an ontology of attitudinal and modal objects and on a semantic function of clauses as predicates of such objects. It also présents new motivations for 'object-based truthmaker semantics' from intensional transitive verbs such as ‘need’, ‘look for’, ‘own’, and ‘buy’ and gives an outline of their semantics. This paper is (...) a commissioned 'target' article, with commentaries by W. Davis, B. Arsenijevic, K. Moulton, K. Liefke, M. Kaufmann, R. Matthews, P. Portner and A. Rubinstein, P. Elliott, G. Ramchand and my reply. (shrink)
Truthmaker theory promises to do some useful philosophical work: equipping us to argue against phenomenalism and Rylean behaviourism, for instance, and helping us decide what exists (Lewis 1999, 207; Armstrong 1997, 113-119). But it has proved hard to formulate a truthmaker theory that is both useful and believable. I want to suggest that a neglected approach to truthmakers – that of Ian McFetridge – can surmount some of the problems that make other theories of truthmaking unattractive. To begin with, (...) I’ll outline some of the most prominent accounts of truthmaking in the current literature. Then the second part of the paper will explain McFetridge’s theory and argue for its superiority over these accounts. (shrink)
Each truth has a truthmaker: an entity in virtue of whose existence that truth is true. So say truthmaker maximalists. Arguments for maximalism are hard to find, whereas those against are legion. Most accept that maximalism comes at a significant cost, which many judge to be too high. The scales would seem to be balanced against maximalism. Yet, as I show here, maximalism can be derived from an acceptable premise which many will pre-theoretically accept.
This bulletin contains a summary of the main topics of discussion in truthmaker theory, namely: the definition of truthmakers, problems with Truthmaker Necessitarianism and Truthmaker Maximalism, the ontological burden of truthmakers and the recalcitrant topic of truthmakers for negative truths.
The truthmaker literature has recently come to the consensus that the logic of truthmaking is distinct from classical propositional logic. This development has huge implications for the free will literature. Since free will and moral responsibility are primarily ontological concerns (and not semantic concerns) the logic of truthmaking ought to be central to the free will debate. I shall demonstrate that counterexamples to transfer principles employed in the direct argument occur precisely where a plausible logic of truthmaking (...) diverges from classical logic. Further, restricted transfer principles (like the ones employed by McKenna, Stump, and Warfield) are as problematic as the original formulation of the direct argument. (shrink)
This paper considers the extent to which the notion of truthmaking can play a substantive role in defining physicalism. While a truthmaking-based approach to physicalism is prima facie attractive, there is some reason to doubt that truthmaking can do much work when it comes to understanding physicalism, and perhaps austere metaphysical frameworks in general. First, despite promising to dispense with higher-level properties and states, truthmaking appears to make little progress on issues concerning higher-level items and how (...) they are related to how things are physically. Second, it seems that truthmaking-based approaches to physicalism will have a difficult time addressing the status of truthmaking itself without, in effect, appealing to the resources of alternative ways of conceptualizing physicalism. (shrink)
In this note we shall argue that Milne’s new effort does not refute Truthmaker Maximalism. According to Truthmaker Maximalism, every truth has a truthmaker. Milne has attempted to refute it using the following self-referential sentence M: This sentence has no truthmaker. Essential to his refutation is that M is like the Gödel sentence and unlike the Liar, and one way in which Milne supports this assimilation is through the claim that his proof is essentially object-level and not semantic. In Section (...) 2, we shall argue that Milne is still begging the question against Truthmaker Maximalism. In Section 3, we shall argue that even assimilating M to the Liar does not force the truthmaker maximalist to maintain the ‘dull option’ that M does not express a proposition. There are other options open and, though they imply revising the logic in Milne’s reasoning, this is not one of the possible revisions he considers. In Section 4, we shall suggest that Milne’s proof requires an implicit appeal to semantic principles and notions. In Section 5, we shall point out that there are two important dissimilarities between M and the Gödel sentence. Section 6 is a brief summary and conclusion. (shrink)
This paper argues that a consideration of the problem of providing truthmakers for negative truths undermines truthmaker theory. Truthmaker theorists are presented with an uncomfortable dilemma. Either they must take up the challenge of providing truthmakers for negative truths, or else they must explain why negative truths are exceptions to the principle that every truth must have a truthmaker. The first horn is unattractive since the prospects of providing truthmakers for negative truths do not look good neither absences, nor totality (...) states of affairs, nor Graham Priest and J.C. Beall’s ‘polarities’ (Beall, 2000; Priest, 2000) are up to the job. The second horn, meanwhile, is problematic because restricting the truthmaker principle to atomic truths, or weakening it to the thesis that truth supervenes on being, undercuts truthmaker theory’s original motivation. The paper ends by arguing that truthmaker theory is, in any case, an under-motivated doctrine because the groundedness of truth can be explained without appeal to the truthmaker principle. This leaves us free to give the ommonsensical and deflationary explanation of negative truths that common-sense suggests. (shrink)
The truthmaker objection to presentism (the view that only what exists now exists simpliciter) is that it lacks sufficient metaphysical resources to ground truths about the past. In this paper I identify five constraints that an adequate presentist response must satisfy. In light of these constraints, I examine and reject responses by Bigelow, Keller, Crisp, and Bourne. Consideration of how these responses fail, however, points toward a proposal that works; one that posits God’s memories as truthmakers for truths about the (...) past. I conclude that presentists have, in the truthmaker objection, considerable incentive to endorse theism. (shrink)
Truthmaker theorists hold that there is a metaphysically explanatory relation that holds between true claims and what exists. While some critics try to provide counterexamples to truthmaker theory, that response quickly leads to a dialectical standoff. The aim of this paper is to move beyond that standoff by attempting to undermine some standard arguments for truthmaker theory. Using realism about truth and a more pragmatic account of explanation, I show how some of those arguments can be undermined.
Truthmaker theorists claim that for every truth, there is something in virtue of which it is true—or, more cautiously, that for every truth in some specified class of truths, there is something in virtue of which it is true. I argue that it is hard to see how the thought that truth is grounded in reality lends any support to truthmaker theory.
Truthmakers, truth conditions, and analyses are closely related, but distinct in rather important ways. A failure to properly appreciate their differences has led to some confusion regarding the role that possible worlds ought to play with respect to modality. Those philosophers who initially proposed the existence of possible worlds were understood as providing an analysis of modality. More recently, many have interpreted them as providing modal truthmakers. But, possible worlds are only suited to serve as truth conditions for modal truths. (...) My goals are as follows: First, to dispel this confusion by detailing the differences between these three concepts. Second, to apply the lesson learned to the famous Humphrey objection against possible worlds. While this objection, if successful, does undermine Lewisian modal realism, it only partially undermines ersatzism, and leaves available a route by which ersatzers may avoid the objection altogether. (shrink)
Truthmaker theory has become immensely popular in recent years. So, it is not surprising that we are beginning to see it put to work in other areas of philosophy. Recently, several philosophers have proposed that truthmaker theory is the key to solving the Gettier problem. Edmund Gettier demonstrated that the traditional analysis of knowledge (as justified, true belief) was unsatisfactory. The truthmaker solution proposes that knowledge is a justified, true belief, where the source of one's justification is either identical to, (...) or else causally related to, the state of affairs which makes the believed proposition true. This amendment of the traditional analysis of knowledge purportedly escapes the problems identified by Gettier cases. In this paper, I will examine two particular recent endorsements of this solution – those from Sven Bernecker and Adrian Heathcote – and argue that truthmaker theory is not the key to solving the Gettier problem. (shrink)
Truthmaker theorists hold that propositions about higher-level entities (e.g. the proposition that there is a heap of sand) are often made true by lower-level entities (e.g. by facts about the configuration of fundamental particles). This generates a problem: what should we say about these higher-level entities? On the one hand, they must exist (since there are true propositions about them), on the other hand, it seems that they are completely superfluous and should be banished for reasons of ontological parsimony. Some (...) truthmaker theorists—most prominently David Armstrong—have tried to solve this puzzle by arguing that these entities are ‘an ontological free lunch’, i.e. real existents that are still ‘no addition of being’. This answer is prima facie attractive, but I argue in this paper that the standard approaches to truthmaking—modal theories and grounding theories—are unable to vindicate the doctrine of the ontological free lunch, and thus fail to solve the problem of higher-level entities. Fortunately, there is a non-standard account of truthmaking available, the reductive explanation account, which succeeds where the standard approaches fail. (shrink)
Truths are determined not by what we believe, but by the way the world is. Or so realists about truth believe. Philosophers call such theories correspondence theories of truth. Truthmaking theory, which now has many adherents among contemporary philosophers, is the most recent development of a realist theory of truth, and in this book D. M. Armstrong offers the first full-length study of this theory. He examines its applications to different sorts of truth, including contingent truths, modal truths, truths (...) about the past and the future, and mathematical truths. In a clear, even-handed and non-technical discussion he makes a compelling case for truthmaking and its importance in philosophy. His book marks a significant contribution to the debate and will be of interest to a wide range of readers working in analytical philosophy. (shrink)
Can Bradley's Regress be solved by positing relational tropes as truth-makers? No, no more than Russell's paradox can be solved by positing Fregean extensions. To call a trope relational is to pack into its essence the relating function it is supposed to perform but without explaining what Bradley's Regress calls into question, viz. the capacity of relations to relate. This problem has been masked from view by the (questionable) assumption that the only genuine ontological problems that can be intelligibly raised (...) are those that can be answered by providing a schedule of truthmakers. (shrink)
I develop a basic theory of content within the framework of truthmaker semantics and, in the second part, consider some of the applications to subject matter, common content, logical subtraction and ground.
Consider the idea that some entities are more fundamental than others, some entities ‘ground’ other, less fundamental, entities. What is it for something to be more fundamental than another, or for something to ‘ground’ something else? This paper urges the rejection of conceptions of grounding and fundamentality according to which reality has a hierarchical structure in which higher-level entities are taken to be distinct from but metaphysically dependent on more fundamental lower-level entities. Truthmaking is offered as an apt replacement (...) for at least some of the many applications of grounding. (shrink)