Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Truthmakers

A truthmaker is something that makes a proposition true at a given time. When Socrates is sitting, so there is a truthmaker that makes ‘Socrates is sitting’ true. When he stands up, there is no longer such a truthmaker: it ceases to exist.

I accept Maverick’s arguments, which I discussed briefly here, that Socrates himself cannot be the truthmaker for ‘Socrates is sitting’. For Socrates is sometimes not sitting (for example, when he stands up). Socrates remains identical with himself, but fails to be identical with any currently existing person.

But, pari ratione, by equal reasoning, I reject the idea of a truthmaker altogether. If there is such a truthmaker, let it be A, it comes into existence when Socrates sits down, and ceases to exist when he stands up. If it were something real – let’s say a candle flame, which comes into existence when we light the candle, and ceases to exist when we blow it out – then there would have to be a further truthmaker for A existing. I.e. the sentence “A exists” can be true or false, and so requires a further truthmaker B, that makes it true when B exists. But then “B exists” requires yet another truthmaker, and so on ad infinitum. That is absurd. Therefore, there are no truthmakers.

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16 Comments:

Blogger Anthony said...

"A truthmaker is something that makes a proposition true at a given time."

So when Socrates is sitting, the fact that he is sitting is a truthmaker, is it not?

Do facts not exist?

12:57 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

"I.e. the sentence “A exists” can be true or false, and so requires a further truthmaker B, that makes it true when B exists."

The truthmaker for "A exists" is A.

1:03 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>The truthmaker for "A exists" is A.
<<

So what is the truthmaker for 'A does not exist'?

1:06 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

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1:32 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:42 pm  
Blogger David Brightly said...

If asked for the truthmaker of 'Socrates blinked' we could reply 'Socrates's blink', a process with a beginning and end in time that can have some claim to existence. If asked for the truthmaker of 'Socrates's blink exists/existed' we could reply 'Socrates's blink itself' and the infinite sequence of truthmakers would collapse to a singleton.

2:31 pm  
Blogger J said...

The real nominalist would IMO call that a matter of evidentialism--ie, for "Socrates drank the hemlock" (or any supposed event in his life) the truthmaker being the person who witnessed the event , or even ...Jr at State reading about it, and wondering if it actually happened (ie a preponderance of the historical evidence/testimony). To say otherwise, per Mav P is to suggest ...an immaterial realm of truths --vaguely platonic as usual. We consider it a "fact" that Socrates drank the hemlock (ie, really extension again of the man aka "Socrates")--moreover we believe that the ancient testimony was correct (or not). That doesn't mean agreeing that "facticity" exists in God's mind (but in history books). Evidentialism's not fancy but ..does tend to eliminate ghosts.

7:22 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>and the infinite sequence of truthmakers would collapse to a singleton.

Good point.

2:47 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

>>>> If asked for the truthmaker of 'Socrates's blink exists/existed' we could reply 'Socrates's blink itself' and the infinite sequence of truthmakers would collapse to a singleton.

>> Good point.

It's the same point I made when I said that the truthmaker for "A exists" is A.

5:06 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>It's the same point I made when I said that the truthmaker for "A exists" is A.

My mistake, I was right first time, and you and Brightly are wrong, sorry. Let the truthmaker for “Socrates blinks” be A. Then “Socrates blinks” is true when A exists, and false when A does not. But the truthmaker for ‘A exists’ cannot be Socrates’ blink, for it is the existence of the blink that makes the sentence true, not the blink itself. So there is an infinite regress.

6:06 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> But the truthmaker for ‘A exists’ cannot be Socrates’ blink, for it is the existence of the blink that makes the sentence true, not the blink itself.

Congratulations, you've just used the concept of truthmaker in your attempt to prove the concept invalid. For if it is the existence of the blink that makes the sentence true, then the existence of the blink is a truthmaker.

6:51 pm  
Blogger J said...

No,Ed-Ock, Tony Trolll's not right about anything. He doesn't have a clue what this is about.

I suggest the "truthmaker" chat descends from something more neo-platonic than the scholastic chestnuts as in...Truth itself (say..Euclidian axioms)presupposes...a transcendental realm --. With Arisotelians that became a bit of a pagan mishmash (yes, roses will be roses, not rattlesnakes-- but....to say there's a "lawgiver" in the substance--well..hardly different than.. saying Vishnu makes it bloom--).

7:56 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>Congratulations, you've just used the concept of truthmaker in your attempt to prove the concept invalid.

Just as we do in proving not-p, by demonstrating that p implies not-p.

7:44 am  
Blogger Anthony said...

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12:18 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

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12:21 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> Just as we do in proving not-p, by demonstrating that p implies not-p.

Not at all. The hypothesis is that *something* makes "Socrates' blink exists" true at a given time. Specifically, it is proposed that "Socrates' blink" makes "Socrates' blink exists" true at a given time. You then state "it is the existence of the blink that makes the sentence true, not the blink itself".

You did not say "we are assuming that it is the existence of the blink that makes the sentence true". And that's good, since this is not the assumption. It is neither the hypothesis nor the proposed example.

Again, the hypothesis is that there is something that makes a proposition true at a given time. We then give an example, of "Socrates' blink makes it true that Socrates' blink exists". You then counter with "no, something else makes that true", thereby admitting that the original hypothesis is true.

12:23 pm  

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