Truthmakers and the Groundedness of Truth
Liggins (David)
Source: Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 3 March 2008
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. Truth is grounded in reality – or so it is appealing to think. Truthmaker theory attempts to articulate this idea precisely and put it to philosophical use. 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. These principles yield the conclusion that the world contains entities whose existence guarantees the truth of predications. They also provide arguments against phenomenalism, Ryleanism about dispositions, Rylean behaviourism, operationalism, presentism, and other philosophical theories. In the language of Sider 2001: §2.3, truthmaker theory offers a way of ‘catching cheaters’.
  2. In this paper, I argue that it is hard to see how the thought that truth is grounded in reality lends any support to truthmaker theory. I begin by summarizing the truthmaker movement in a little more detail (§II). I then discuss an argument put forward by Helen Beebee and Julian Dodd, which aims to show that truthmaker theory could never be justified by the groundedness of truth, on pain of losing its cheater-catching power. I show that this argument fails (§III). The rest of the paper is less friendly to truthmaker theory. In §IV, I argue that the groundedness of truth in reality lends it no obvious support. Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra has recently offered an argument for truthmaker theory based on the groundedness of truth; I offer a rebuttal. In the light of this discussion, it appears that truthmaker theory lacks a decent motivation; I suggest that truthmaker theorists should spend more of their time explaining why we should believe their theories (§V).
  3. I close with a discussion of the principle that truth supervenes1 on what there is and how it is – a diluted version of truthmaker theory. According to David Lewis (2001), this principle can catch the cheaters that truthmaker theory was supposed to. Against Lewis, I argue that the principle cannot catch them, since it may reasonably be rejected (§VI).

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