Thursday, November 10, 2011

Two clear arguments against truthmakers

The Maverick Philosopher challenges me to lodge one clear objection against the idea of a truthmaker.  Very well.

The background. I originally objected that in order to make its proposition p true, a truthmaker must exist. Let the truthmaker be T. Then, when the proposition ‘T exists’ is true, p will be true. But (I hold) the truthmaker of ‘T exists’ cannot be T, anymore than the truthmaker of ‘Socrates sits’ can be Socrates. Let it be T*. But now we must ask about the truthmaker of “T* exists”. This cannot be T*, by the same reasoning. Therefore there must be another truthmaker T**, and so on ad infinitum.  The Maverick objects to my initial assumption that the truthmaker of ‘T exists’ cannot be T itself. For if it is, there is no regress (or at least, not a vicious one), and my argument fails.

That is by way of a preliminary. The whole dispute depends on whether the truthmaker of ‘T exists’ is T itself, and I shall now give two arguments that it cannot.

The first argument assumes that the meaning of a singular proposition (i.e. sentence) does not depend on whether its singular term has a referent. ‘Socrates sits’ means the same whether there is such a person as Socrates or not. Plenty of philosophers (direct referentialists) disagree with this assumption, but I believe Maverick does not. Thus it is contingent whether any object falls under the proper name ‘Socrates’ (used in the standard sense to mean a certain Athenian philosopher, the teacher of Plato). Thus it cannot be that Socrates makes the proposition ‘Socrates exists’ true. I.e. the proposition

(*) Socrates makes the proposition ‘Socrates exists’ true

is false, because Socrates does not exist. Maverick may object that in the past it made (past tense) the proposition true. I reply: even if that is conceded, (*) is still false. Maverick may then object that ‘makes’ is to be understood tenselessly, as in propositions like ‘2 plus 2 equals 4’. I reply: if so, he must then explain why Socrates sometimes (tenselessly) makes the proposition ‘Socrates exist’ true (i.e. when Socrates is alive) and sometimes (tenselessly) he fails to make it true (now he is dead, or before he is born). There must be some additional factor. Hence the truthmaker of ‘Socrates exists’ cannot be just Socrates himself, and I rest my case.

My second argument is from future tense propositions. Assume that it will rain tomorrow, and so ‘it will rain tomorrow’ is true. Does the truthmaker for that proposition exist today, or only tomorrow, when it rains? If only tomorrow, then I argue as before. What causes the truthmaker to come into existence. It cannot be the truthmaker itself, for the reasons already argued. But if the truthmaker exists today, and thus exists for all time, in a sort of date-stamped way like ‘it will rain in London on 11 November 2011’, then the future is already determined. But the future is not determined, ergo etc.

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29 Comments:

Blogger Anthony said...

This is really quite a terrible argument.

>> I reply: even if that is conceded, (*) is still false.

(*) is false.

You said it yourself: "Let the truthmaker be T. Then, when the proposition ‘T exists’ is true, p will be true."

>> What causes the truthmaker to come into existence. It cannot be the truthmaker itself...

Truthmakers aren't claimed to be about causality.

3:02 am  
Blogger Anthony said...

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3:21 am  
Blogger Anthony said...

I'm starting to think "Maverick Philospher" has it just about right on this one. He says that truthmakers exist for all contingent truths. Replace "contingent truths" with "truths about concretes" and/or "truths about existents" (*), and it seems plausible, though I still feel like the definition of "truthmaker" still is not completely clear.

(*) As an example of the distinction, consider whether or not a truthmaker exists for "every tired person in this room is tired". (I assume this would be a non-contingent proposition, but maybe I'm wrong about that).

3:25 am  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

I don't understand your reply to my argument, Anthony. I claim that

(*) Socrates makes the proposition ‘Socrates exists’ true

is false. Maverick claims it is true.

8:12 am  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>Truthmakers aren't claimed to be about causality.

yes they are. A truthmaker supposedly 'makes', i.e. causes, its proposition to be true.

But not between physical objects, supposedly. A truthmaker is a physical (or at least an extramental) object causing a representation (a proposition) to be true or false.

8:15 am  
Blogger J said...

You're introducing another element--about reference, and verification,really--i,e we don't know whether Socrates existed or not. True, historical claims are contingent--Napoleon most probably did exist (attacked Russia et al)but..not necessarily in a logical sense. Either way trivial--in that sense, any contingent claim is not true--even "Obama is President otUS" --maybe it's a media hoax, etc).

--also you misread the point on predication (as does Vallicella). Someone from China says, "who is Rush Limbaugh.?" Then an American says "Rush Limbaugh is a fat conservative radio announcer". , He exists, and falls in the classes of fat/obese, conservatives, and radio-announcers. The proposition, to be judged true or false, requires some observation of the object, and then the Chinese person would say, yes, "it's true that Rush Limbaugh is a fat conservative radio announcer". Judging a purported fact-claim as true or not requires ..observing the object being predicated about. It's not a regress. (tho....the "truth" itself is a macro feature of human thinking (and vision,usually).Not marked as true in nature,so to speak).

10:14 am  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> I claim that

>> (*) Socrates makes the proposition ‘Socrates exists’ true

>> is false.

It is. Nothing makes that proposition true, since it isn't true.

>> Maverick claims it is true.

Where?

11:35 am  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> A truthmaker supposedly 'makes', i.e. causes, its proposition to be true.

No. Read "Maverick Philosopher", especially his comments in "An Infinite Regress Argument Against Truth-Makers? Round Two".

"The truth-maker of the SENTENCE 'Tom is fat' is not the cause of Tom's being fat. He is fat because he eats too much, doesn't exercise, etc."

"Truth-making is not a relation that connects one event in space-time with another event in space-time. It is a relation that connects a truth-maker to a representation (a decl. sentence, a judgment-content, a Fregean proposition, etc.)"

It is perfectly acceptable for something other than the truthmaker itself to "cause the truthmaker to come into existence."

11:42 am  
Blogger Anthony said...

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11:56 am  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> I claim that

>> (*) Socrates makes the proposition ‘Socrates exists’ true

>> is false.

It's not true, anyway. Whether it's false or meaningless is debatable.

12:00 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

How's this for a definition of truthmaker? That T exists is equivalent to a true proposition P if and only if T is a truthmaker for P.

Is it clear what is meant by equivalent?

12:10 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>It's not true, anyway. Whether it's false or meaningless is debatable.

That was the point of my remark about direct reference, which you may see if you read my post more carefully.

12:13 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

Maverick says "But the thought is not just true; it is true because of the way things are 'outside' my mind.

12:16 pm  
Blogger J said...

"Is the predication correct?" perhaps a better way of stating it...ie, did you confirm the judgement as true or false--say, "Limbaugh is fat". But you needed to look at the object to decide.


You can hardly deny that, anymore than you could deny "ravens are black" (tho granted maybe someday a blue one will show up) . Its just basic instancing...Limbaugh falls in the class of the obese(even clinically defined--"X is obese"--a "property" as scholastics would call it).



"Aynthony" doesn't understand Vallicella (--he probably likes BV's rightist reactionary politics.) And Mav P. does not get Frege's point on the ...difficulties of establishing Truth (or knowledge)from/via sense impressions. Frege usually sounds rather Cartesian--he'll accept ..the pythagorean theorem. Not...induction. (ie "ravens are black").

12:36 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> That was the point of my remark about direct reference, which you may see if you read my post more carefully.

No, I got that point. What I don't see is where "Maverick Philosopher" has claimed otherwise.

You said it yourself: "Then, when the proposition ‘T exists’ is true, p will be true." But p is currently not true, and "T exists" is currently not true. In fact not-p is currently true, and "T does not exist" is currently true.

>> Maverick says "But the thought is not just true; it is true because of the way things are 'outside' my mind.

Ah, I see what you're saying. You're saying that "the truthmaker causes the thought to be true" is equivalent to "the truthmaker causes the truthmaker to exist", since "the truthmaker exists" is equivalent to "the thought [I'd say, proposition] is true".

On that point, I guess I agree. A truthmaker doesn't "cause a thought to become true".

I don't know if this was a misphrasing or an error in understanding. But I don't think the claim that a truthmaker "causes a thought to become true" is inherent in the idea of a truthmaker.

1:17 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

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1:25 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

By the way, lest anyone make the same mistake as the one who shall not be named (unless and until he starts behaving), I by no means am in full agreement with Vallicella.

I'm not in full disagreement with him either, though. I think he's right that you don't understand what a truthmaker is. That T is the truthmaker for a true proposition that T exists, is inherent in the very idea of truthmakers. The only real question is what propositions, if any, which are not true propositions that T exists, have truthmakers.

1:28 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

I'm going to substitute "belief" for "thought"...

This desk doesn't cause a belief that this desk exists to become true, as in, the belief was false, and then the desk appeared, and belief became true. A false belief, so long as it exists, is false. A true belief, so long as it exists, is true. (*)

On the other hand, I can see saying that my belief that this desk exists is true because this desk exists.

(*) If anything, the existence of the desk is a cause for the existence of my belief that the desk exists.

2:11 pm  
Blogger J said...

You shall not be named, Byro-"Anthony" the neo-nazi, except in the warrant. YOU don't understand the arguments or BV's complete misreading of Frege (who doesn't believe in "truthmakers" either, or empirical knowledge, Ock.)


You don't understand the point at all, since you don't even know what a syllogism is, or what the realism/nominalism debate is (but we're getting your e-mail, ASAP, satanist,and vallicella's--then we'll get some "truthmakers"

4:32 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> he must then explain why Socrates sometimes (tenselessly) makes the proposition ‘Socrates exist’ true (i.e. when Socrates is alive) and sometimes (tenselessly) he fails to make it true (now he is dead, or before he is born)

By the way, that's simple. It's a different proposition. "Socrates exists", said in 410 BC, expresses a different belief than "Socrates exists", said in 390 BC.

"But are there not thoughts which are true today but false in six months' time? The thought, for example, that the tree there is covered with green leaves, will surely be false in six months' time. No, for it is not the same thought at all." (A few pages earlier in that essay by Frege. "Gedanken", translated to "thought", is Frege's notion of a proposition, and while I don't agree with it in its entirety, I do agree with this quote, where he properly acknowledges an important distinction between a sentence and a proposition, which you are continually confusing as you did above.)

1:12 am  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>> an important distinction between a sentence and a proposition,

Well there is a traditional use, and a modern use. I normally adopt the traditional use.

8:30 am  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>"Socrates exists", said in 410 BC, expresses a different belief than "Socrates exists", said in 390 BC.

I'm not talking about beliefs, but meanings. Does 'Socrates exists' have the same meaning, if uttered yesterday, than today?

8:32 am  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> I'm not talking about beliefs, but meanings.

Well you used the term proposition.

>> Does 'Socrates exists' have the same meaning, if uttered yesterday, than today?

"Socrates exists" is a pair of words. It only has meaning in context. Whether it has the same meaning, if uttered yesterday or today, depends on the context, and, of course, the speaker.

12:13 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> Well there is a traditional use, and a modern use. I normally adopt the traditional use.

Use of what? What is the use you normally adopt?

Maybe we should go back to truthbearers, and whether or not you believe truthbearers exist.

12:35 pm  
Blogger J said...

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1:22 pm  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>>Use of what? What is the use you normally adopt?

'Proposition', as should be obvious from the context.

In traditional logic, a proposition (Latin: propositio) is a spoken assertion (oratio enunciativa).

>>Maybe we should go back to truthbearers, and whether or not you believe truthbearers exist.

I don't know. The nominalist position would be that they don't.

1:32 pm  
Blogger J said...

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1:56 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> >>Maybe we should go back to truthbearers, and whether or not you believe truthbearers exist.

>> I don't know.

Start there, then. If you're not sure whether or not truthbearers exist, let alone what they are ("sentences", "eternal sentences", "statements", "thoughts", "beliefs", "propositions"), you're not going to make any sense pontificating about the (non-)existence of truthmakers.

>> The nominalist position would be that they don't.

I think you're wrong about that. But it's pretty irrelevant anyway.

10:54 pm  
Blogger J said...

No,you're wrong Marc Anthony. You don't have a clue what this is about ,little AZ man--"beliefs" hah hah. And has nothing with what you "believe" Frege is discussing either, neo nazi

since Frege doesn't defend "truthmakers' (Vallicella attempts to say that..wrongly as usual)--it's Armstrong's term--it's..all off-topic and irrelevant. Frege's a Cartesian, and formalist opposed to empiricism--the essay concerns the difficulty of establishing Truth or knowledge via sense impression (ie, the truth of the proposition)--ie, green leaves, etc--all contingent ,ever-changing etc.(and recall his point on color-blindness) . Yr pal "Anthony" the theatre boy knows nothing about it.

Armstrong's no Fregean. He's an empirical realist (not the same as as a mathematical realist,except to fools). So there's a truthmaker for "Horses exist". But there isn't one for "Unicorns exist". (ie, a negation poses other issues).So enough of the Frege strawman. Do you disagree with Armstrong? Actually I agree with him: though there's something odd in the "truthmaker" terminology. But establishing a proposition as true (even if's...contingent in the long run--ie, evolution-wise) does require observing an object/group of objects--a horse, or say, potassium reacting with water. You see the reaction, and know it's True that a chunk of K mixed with H20 produces a violent reaction...and avoid doing it

11:51 pm  

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