In This Article Truthmaking

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Books
  • Anthologies
  • Journal Issues
  • Historical Sources
  • The Truthmaker Principle
  • Truthmakers

Philosophy Truthmaking
by
Aaron M. Griffith
  • LAST REVIEWED: 08 October 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0058

Introduction

The notions of “truthmaking” and “truthmakers” are central to many attempts in contemporary metaphysics to come to grips with the connection between truth and reality. The intuitive motivation for theories of truthmaking is the idea that truth depends on reality: that truth is not primitive or fundamental, but rather derivative and dependent. The idea, more precisely stated, is that true propositions (or whatever are the primary truth-bearers, e.g., statements, sentences, or beliefs) are not true in and of themselves but must be made true by reality. Truthmaker theorists think that for a proposition to be made true is for it to be true in virtue of the existence of some entity, which is called its “truthmaker.” While many find the thought that truths are “true in virtue of,” or “grounded in,” or “determined by” reality compelling, not everyone thinks the truthmaker theorist’s way of articulating this idea is the best. This entry focuses on recent truthmaker theories, their challenges, and alternative approaches to truthmaking. One major point of contention surveyed here is the scope of truthmaking: i.e., whether every truth has a truthmaker, or only some. Another important issue is the nature of truthmakers. Some contend that states of affairs are truthmakers, while others hold that particular property instances (“tropes”) are better qualified to ground truths. Truthmaker theorists also disagree about how to characterize the “truthmaking relation” that holds between truths and their truthmakers. The various principles of truthmaking (principles setting out necessary and sufficient conditions under which an entity is a truthmaker for some proposition) offered in the literature are also surveyed in this entry. Perhaps the most contentious matter in truthmaker theory is how to deal with “problem cases”: i.e., truths for which there are no obvious truthmakers, such as negative existential truths, necessary truths, and subjunctive conditional truths. Some deny that these truths have truthmakers, but others have come up with ingenious and therefore controversial accounts of the truthmakers for these truths. Works on the relation between theories of truth and theories of truthmaking are also surveyed. Because it brings together foundational issues in ontology and truth, the nature of truthmaking and truthmakers has and will continue to be a source of interest and excitement for philosophers.

General Overviews

Two helpful overviews of the literature on truthmaking are Rodriguez-Pereyra 2006 and Rami 2009. Both cover the motivation for truthmaker theory, the components of the theory, and challenges to it. Rodriguez-Pereyra 2006 is a more neutral overview, not arguing for any particular positions, whereas Rami 2009 is more polemical, offering (in some cases novel) criticism of recent attempts to explicate the truthmaking relation.

  • Rami, A. “Introduction: Truth and Truth-Making.” In Truth and Truth-Making. Edited by E. J. Lowe and A. Rami, 1–36. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 2009.

    E-mail Citation »

    Provides a thorough summary of the central issues of truthmaker theory such as its motivation, the nature of truthmakers, truth-bearers, and the relation between truth and truthmaking. Perhaps its most valuable contribution is its detailed analysis and criticism of prominent principles of truthmaking in section 7. Also see entry under Truthmaking.

  • Rodriguez-Pereyra, G. “Truthmakers.” Philosophy Compass 1.2 (2006): 186–200.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1747-9991.2006.00018.xE-mail Citation »

    This accessible introduction to the truthmaker literature summarizes the major views on the nature of truthmakers, truth-bearers, the principles of truthmaking, and the putative solutions to the problem of truthmakers for negative truths.

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