- This much is agreed: “x makes it true that p” is a construction that signifies, if it signifies anything at all, a relation borne to a truth-bearer by something else, a truth-maker. But it isn't generally agreed what that something else might be, or what truth-bearers are, or what the character might be of the relationship that holds, if it does, between them, or even whether such a relationship ever does hold. Indeed sometimes there's barely enough agreement amongst the parties to the truth-maker dispute for them to be disagreeing about a common subject matter. This makes navigating the literature about truth-makers a treacherous undertaking but a necessary one because of the significance the debate about truth-makers bears for contemporary metaphysics.
- We can distinguish between the following questions that different approaches to truth-makers have been framed to answer:
- (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?
- These questions cannot be addressed in isolation from one another. Our thinking about what it is to be a truth-maker will likely have knock-on effects for how we answer the second and third questions. Our beliefs about which truths have truth-makers will likely shape our answer to the first and third. And the theoretical benefits that we think will come our way from positing truth-makers in the first place will no doubt exert a controlling influence upon our responses to the other questions. But since the first is, in a significant sense, prior to the rest — otherwise it's unclear what we're talking about — I will start out by addressing, at least in a preliminary way, the issue of what it is to be a truth-maker.
- The notion of a truth-maker, like that of a clapping hand, cannot ultimately be understood in isolation from the notion of what it makes true, the other hand with which it claps, a truth-bearer. There are a variety of different candidate fillers for the role of truth-bearers—sentence tokens, judgements, propositions, etc — and very often discussion of truth-makers and truth-making proceeds without an eye to which candidate best fills this role. This is understandable: metaphysicians are typically interested in what there is rather than representations thereof. But truth-bearers are the elephant in the room during these discussions. Eventually we'll have to talk about them because what we think about truth-bearers will have consequences for what we think about truth-makers. So there's a further question that we can't put off answering indefinitely,
- (5) What are the truth-bearers?
- For the time being I'll remain relatively non-committal about the character of truth-bearers except for making the minimal assumption that truth-bearers are inherently representational in character. But eventually the issue will become unavoidable.
Table of Contents
- What is a Truth-maker?
… 1.1 Truth-making as Entailment
… 1.2 Truth-making as Necessitation
… 1.3 Truth-making as Projection
… 2.4 Essentialism
… 1.5 Axiomatic Truth-making
… 1.6 Truth-Making as Grounding
- Which range of truths are eligible to be made true (if any are)?
… 2.1 Maximalism
… 2.2 Optimalism
… 2.3 Truth Supervenes1 Upon Being
… 2.4 Humean Scepticism
- What Motivates the Doctrine of Truth-makers?
… 3.1 To catch a cheater
… 3.2 Supervenience2 Principles
… 3.3 Correspondence
… 3.4 Deflationism
… 3.5 Tarski and the Truth-makers
… 3.6 Truth-making and Explanation
… 3.7 Truth-making and Conceptual Explanation
… 3.8 Truth Making and Quantification
… Academic Tools
… Other Internet Resources
… Related Entries
See Stanford: Truthmakers. First published Sat Feb 23, 2013
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2019
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)