Comments on Merricks's Truth and Ontology

Philosophical Books 49 (4):292-301 (2008)
In his Truth and Ontology,1 Trenton Merricks argues against the truthmaker principle: Truthmaker: ∀p( p → ∃xxᮀ(Exx → p)). Truthmaker says that for any true proposition, there are some things whose existence guarantees the truth of that proposition: that is, some things which couldn’t all exist and the proposition fail to be true. His main arguments against Truthmaker are that there cannot be satisfactory truthmakers for (i) negative existentials, (ii) modal truths, (iii) truths about the past (given that presentism is true) and (iv) certain subjunctive conditionals, in particular so-called ‘counterfactuals of freedom’ and dispositional conditionals. I’m going to concentrate on the first three of these. But first I’ll say a bit about why we should care about Truthmaker. Merricks says that “No one gives much of an argument for Truthmaker. Instead, Truthmaker’s main support comes from something like the brute intuition that what is true depends in a non-trivial way on what there is” ( p. 2). He is, unfortunately, correct that truthmaker theorists have in general not been very good at motivating their theory. Too often is Truthmaker taken to be obvious, or an obvious consequence of realism, when really it is neither. But I think we can do better
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DOI 10.1111/j.1468-0149.2008.00469.x
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