A world of truthmakers

In Jean-Maurice Monnoyer (ed.), Metaphysics and Truthmakers. Pisctaway, NJ: Ontos Verlag. pp. 18--105 (2007)
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I will present and criticise the two theories of truthmaking David Armstrong offers us in Truth and Truthmakers (Armstrong 2004), show to what extent they are incompatible and identify troublemakers for both of them, a notorious – Factualism, the view that the world is a world of states of affairs – and a more recent one – the view that every predication is necessary. Factualism, combined with truthmaker necessitarianism – ‘truthmaking is necessitation’ – leads Armstrong to an all-embracing totality state of affairs that necessitates not only everything that is the case but also everything else – that which is not the case, that which is merely possible or even impossible. All the things so dear to realists – rocks, natural properties, real persons – become mere abstractions from this ontological monster. The view that every predication is necessary does in some sense the opposite: it does away with totality states of affairs and, arguably, also with states of affairs. We have particulars and universals, partially identical and necessarily connected to everything else. Just by the existence of anything, everything is necessitated – the whole world mirrored in every monad. Faced with the choice between these two equally unappealing alternatives, I suggest returning to Armstrong’s more empiricist past: the world is not an all-inclusive One, nor necessitated by every single particular and every single universal, but a plurality of particulars and universals, interconnected by a contingent and internal relation of exemplification. While a close variant, truthmaker essentialism, can perhaps be saved, this means giving up on truthmaker necessitarianism. This, I think, what it takes to steer a clear empiricist course between the Scylla of Spinozist general factness and the Charybdis of a Leibnizian overdose of brute necessities.

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Philipp Blum
University of Geneva


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