Negative truths and truthmaker principles

Synthese 156 (2):383-401 (2007)
This paper argues that a consideration of the problem of providing truthmakers for negative truths undermines truthmaker theory. Truthmaker theorists are presented with an uncomfortable dilemma. Either they must take up the challenge of providing truthmakers for negative truths, or else they must explain why negative truths are exceptions to the principle that every truth must have a truthmaker. The first horn is unattractive since the prospects of providing truthmakers for negative truths do not look good neither absences, nor totality states of affairs, nor Graham Priest and J.C. Beall’s ‘polarities’ (Beall, 2000; Priest, 2000) are up to the job. The second horn, meanwhile, is problematic because restricting the truthmaker principle to atomic truths, or weakening it to the thesis that truth supervenes on being, undercuts truthmaker theory’s original motivation. The paper ends by arguing that truthmaker theory is, in any case, an under-motivated doctrine because the groundedness of truth can be explained without appeal to the truthmaker principle. This leaves us free to give the ommonsensical and deflationary explanation of negative truths that common-sense suggests.
Keywords Truthmakers  Negative truths  States of affairs  Truth
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.2307/27653521
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 15,822
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
D. M. Armstrong (1993). A World of States of Affairs. Philosophical Perspectives 7 (3):429-440.
Paul Horwich (2005). Truth. In Frank Jackson & Michael Smith (eds.), Erkenntnis. Oxford University Press 261-272.

View all 35 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Randolph Clarke (2012). Absence of Action. Philosophical Studies 158 (2):361-376.

View all 13 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

154 ( #10,798 of 1,724,747 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

13 ( #53,055 of 1,724,747 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.