Edited by Jamin Asay (University of Hong Kong)
About this topic
Summary Truthmakers are the things in the world in virtue of which truth bearers are true. For example, any individual human makes it true that humans exist. What's more controversial is what the truthmakers are for counterfactuals, and claims involving the past, modality, ethics, mathematics, and many others. Truthmaker theory explores the relationship between what is true and what exists. Central questions for truthmaker theory include whether or not all truths have truthmakers, what the nature of the truthmaking relation is, and what sorts of objects are needed to serve as truthmakers. The notion of truthmaking has been used to argue for particular kinds of ontologies (such as the existence of states of affairs or tropes), argue against certain metaphysical views (such as presentism and nominalism), and elucidate issues about the nature of truth (such as how truthmaker theory is related to correspondence theory).
Key works Contemporary truthmaker theory draws historical inspiration from Russell 1940. Classic papers on truthmaker theory include Mulligan et al 1984 and Fox 1987. David Armstrong has long advocated the idea of truthmaking, and Armstrong 2004 presents his most fully developed theory of truthmaking. Merricks 2007 is the most comprehensive critique of truthmaker theory. Classic papers concerned with the question of whether all truths require truthmakers include Molnar 2000 and Lewis 2001Restall 1996 discusses the nature of the truthmaking relation.
Introductions Rodriguez-Pereyra 2006 is an excellent general introduction to truthmaker theory. Two accessible on-line resources that cover a number of contemporary issues in truthmaker theory are Fraser MacBride's Stanford Encyclopedia article (MacBride 2013) and Asay 2014. Caplan & Sanson 2011 introduces the consequences of truthmaking for presentism. Lowe & Rami 2009 collects a number of classic papers on the subject. Simons 2000 presents an accessible dialogue between different philosophers discussing maximalism about truthmaking.
Related categories

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  1. Why Should the Truthmaker Principle Be Restricted?Takeshi Akiba - 2011 - Kagaku Tetsugaku 44 (2):115-134.
    According to the “truthmaker maximalism”, every true contingent proposition is made true by something in the world, called its truthmaker. Although at first sight the maximalism seems to be a natural position, it has serious difficulties, especially concerning negative truths. In view of this, many truthmaker theorists adopt some non-maximalist position. It is not clear, however, whether these non-maximalists are justified, since existing reasons to justify the non-maximalism are not good enough. In this paper, then, I shall propose a new (...)
  2. Review of D. M. Armstrong, Truth and Truthmakers. [REVIEW]Peter Alward - 2004 - Disputatio 1 (17):74-78.
  3. Counterfactuals and Their Truthmakers.Joshua Anderson - 2014 - Polish Journal of Philosophy 8 (2):7-24.
    This article compares David Lewis’s understanding of counterfactuals with a Platonic theory of counterfactual truthmakers. By pointing to some weaknesses in Lewis’s theory, it will highlight some of the strengths of the Platonic theory. The article will progress in the following way. First, I present David Lewis’s understanding of counterfactuals, and discuss some problems the theory has. Next, I discuss Platonic truthmakers, in general, and then show how this applies to counterfactuals. Finally, I discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the (...)
  4. The Logical Structure of Truthmaking.Staffan Angere - 2015 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 44 (4):351-374.
    This paper is an investigation in the use of truthmaker theory for exploring the relation of logic to world, and as a tool for metaphysics. A variant of truthmaker theory, which we call the simple theory, is defined and defended against objections. It is characterized formally, and its central features are derived. As part of this project, we give a formal metaphysics based on nondeterministic necessitation relations among possible entities. In what is called the fundamental theorem of truthmaking, it is (...)
  5. Powers as Causal Truthmakers.Rani Lill Anjum & Stephen Mumford - 2014 - Disputatio. Philosophical Research Bulletin 3 (4):5--31.
    [EN]Most theories of causation assume that it must involve some kind of necessity, or that the cause must be entirely sufficient for the effect. Others have already suggested that it should be possible to get a theory of causation from a theory of powers or dispositions. Such a project is far from complete but even here we find that the key point in a dispositional theory of causation has been lacking. This paper attempts to establish some of the most important (...)
  6. 'Making True'.Elizabeth Anscombe - 2000 - In Roger Teichmann (ed.), Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement. Cambridge University Press. pp. 1-9.
  7. Truthmakers, Paradox and Plausibility.Bradley Armour-Garb & James A. Woodbridge - 2010 - Analysis 70 (1):11-23.
    In a series of articles, Dan Lopez De Sa and Elia Zardini argue that several theorists have recently employed instances of paradoxical reasoning, while failing to see its problematic nature because it does not immediately (or obviously) yield inconsistency. In contrast, Lopez De Sa and Zardini claim that resultant inconsistency is not a necessary condition for paradoxicality. It is our contention that, even given their broader understanding of paradox, their arguments fail to undermine the instances of reasoning they attack, either (...)
  8. Truthmakers for Negative Truths, and for Truths of Mere Possibility.D. M. Armstrong - 2007 - In Jean-Maurice Monnoyer (ed.), Metaphysics and Truthmakers. Ontos Verlag. pp. 99.
  9. Reply to Keller.D. M. Armstrong - 2007 - In Jean-Maurice Monnoyer (ed.), Metaphysics and Truthmakers. Ontos Verlag. pp. 18--157.
  10. Reply to Rissler.D. M. Armstrong - 2006 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (2):211 – 212.
  11. Reply to Cheyne and Pigden.D. M. Armstrong - 2006 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (2):267 – 268.
  12. Reply to Efird and Stoneham.D. M. Armstrong - 2006 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (2):281 – 283.
  13. Reply to Forrest.D. M. Armstrong - 2006 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (2):229 – 232.
  14. Reply to Heil.D. M. Armstrong - 2006 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (2):245 – 247.
  15. Truth and Truthmakers.D. M. Armstrong - 2004 - Cambridge University Press.
    Truths are determined not by what we believe, but by the way the world is. Or so realists about truth believe. Philosophers call such theories correspondence theories of truth. Truthmaking theory, which now has many adherents among contemporary philosophers, is the most recent development of a realist theory of truth, and in this book D. M. Armstrong offers the first full-length study of this theory. He examines its applications to different sorts of truth, including contingent truths, modal truths, truths about (...)
  16. Difficult Cases in the Theory of Truthmaking.D. M. Armstrong - 2000 - The Monist 83 (1):150-160.
    Analyzes difficult case in the theory of truthmaking. Account on the notion of a truthmaker by philosopher Bertrand Russell; Context of the correspondence theory of truth; Requisites of a truthmaker; Discussion on negative truths, universally quantified truths and modal truths.
  17. A World of States of Affairs.D. M. Armstrong - 1997 - Cambridge University Press.
    In this important study D. M. Armstrong offers a comprehensive system of analytical metaphysics that synthesises but also develops his thinking over the last twenty years. Armstrong's analysis, which acknowledges the 'logical atomism' of Russell and Wittgenstein, makes facts the fundamental constituents of the world, examining properties, relations, numbers, classes, possibility and necessity, dispositions, causes and laws. All these, it is argued, find their place and can be understood inside a scheme of states of affairs. This is a comprehensive and (...)
  18. A World of States of Affairs.D. M. Armstrong - 1993 - Philosophical Perspectives 7 (3):429-440.
    In this important study D. M. Armstrong offers a comprehensive system of analytical metaphysics that synthesises but also develops his thinking over the last twenty years. Armstrong's analysis, which acknowledges the 'logical atomism' of Russell and Wittgenstein, makes facts the fundamental constituents of the world, examining properties, relations, numbers, classes, possibility and necessity, dispositions, causes and laws. All these, it is argued, find their place and can be understood inside a scheme of states of affairs. This is a comprehensive and (...)
  19. Classes Are States of Affairs.D. M. Armstrong - 1991 - Mind 100 (2):189-200.
  20. Reply to Simons and Mumford.David Armstrong - 2005 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (2):271 – 276.
  21. Truthmakers for Modal Truths.David Armstrong - 2003 - In Hallvard Lillehammer Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra (ed.), Real Metaphysics: Essays in Honour of D. H. Mellor. Routledge. pp. 12-24.
  22. Vérifacteurs pour des vérités modales.David M. Armstrong - 2002 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 2 (4):491-507.
    Revenant sur la question des vérifacteurs, D. Armstrong demande ici d'abord comment concilier le maximalisme et la relation de nécessitation. L'A. examine quel sens métaphysique donner à la notion d'implication, et s'il y a un sens à admettre une contingence de re. Il traite à ce niveau des possibilités pures, examine le cas des aliens chez David Lewis, puis pose la question de savoir s'il est contingent de dire qu'il y a de l'être plutôt que rien. L'exposé le conduit à (...)
  23. We Don't Need No Explanation.Jamin Asay - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies.
    Explanation has played myriad roles in truthmaker theory. The notion of explanation is sometimes thought to give content to the very idea of truthmaking, and is sometimes used as a weapon to undermine the entire point of truthmaker theory. I argue that the notion of explanation is dialectically useless in truthmaker theory: while it's true that truthmaking offers a form of explanation, this claim is theoretically unilluminating, and leaves truthmaker theorists vulnerable to various kinds of attack. I advocate an alternative (...)
  24. Run Aground: Kit Fine’s Critique of Truthmaker Theory.Jamin Asay - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (268):443-463.
    Kit Fine, the leading proponent of the metaphysical project of grounding theory, has offered a number of potentially devastating objections to truthmaker theory, the branch of metaphysics dedicated to exploring the ontological grounds for truths. In this paper I show what presuppositions about truthmaker theory Fine’s objections are based upon, and why they are false. I discuss four objections that Fine raises, and demonstrate how truthmaker theorists may respond to them. I then showcase the positive contribution that truthmaker theory can (...)
  25. Logic and/of Truthmaking.Jamin Asay - 2016 - In Syraya Chin-Mu Yang, Duen-Min Deng & Hanti Lin (eds.), Structural Analysis of Non-Classical Logics: The Proceedings of the Second Taiwan Philosophical Logic Colloquium. Springer Verlag.
    The purpose of this paper is to explore the question of how truthmaker theorists ought to think about their subject in relation to logic. Regarding logic and truthmaking, I defend the view that considerations drawn from advances in modal logic have little bearing on the legitimacy of truthmaker theory. To do so, I respond to objections Timothy Williamson has lodged against truthmaker theory. As for the logic of truthmaking, I show how the project of understanding the logical features of the (...)
  26. Putting Pluralism in its Place.Jamin Asay - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Pluralism about truth is the view that there are many properties, not just one, in virtue of which things are true. Pluralists hope to dodge the objections that face traditional monistic substantive views of truth, as well as those facing deflationary theories of truth. More specifically, pluralists hope to advance an explanatorily potent understanding of truth that can capture the subtleties of various realist and anti-realist domains of discourse, all while avoiding the scope problem. I offer a new objection to (...)
  27. The Facts About Truthmaking: An Argument for Truthmaker Necessitarianism.Jamin Asay - 2016 - Ergo, an Open Access Journal of Philosophy 3:493-500.
    Truthmaker necessitarianism is the view that an object is a truthmaker for a truth-bearer only if it is impossible for the object to exist and the truth-bearer be false. While this thesis is widely regarded as truthmaking "orthodoxy", it is rarely explicitly defended. In this paper I offer an argument in favor of necessitarianism that raises the question of what the truthmakers are for the truths about truthmaking. The supposed advantages of non-necessitarianism dissolve once we take these truths into account.
  28. Truthmaker Theory.Jamin Asay - 2014 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Truthmaker theory is the branch of metaphysics that explores the relationships between what is true and what exists. Discussions of truthmakers and truthmaking typically start with the idea that truth depends on being, and not vice versa. For example, if the sentence ‘Kangaroos live in Australia’ is true, then there are kangaroos living in Australia. And if there are kangaroos living in Australia, then the sentence ‘Kangaroos live in Australia’ is true. But we can ask whether the sentence is true (...)
  29. Against Truth.Jamin Asay - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (1):147-164.
    I argue that there is no metaphysically substantive property of truth. Although many take this thesis to be central to deflationism about truth, it is sometimes left unclear what a metaphysically substantive property of truth is supposed to be. I offer a precise account by relying on the distinction between the property and concept of truth. Metaphysical substantivism is the view that the property of truth is a sparse property, regardless of how one understands the nature of sparse properties. I (...)
  30. Three Paradigms of Scientific Realism: A Truthmaking Account.Jamin Asay - 2013 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 27 (1):1-21.
    This paper investigates the nature of scientific realism. I begin by considering the anomalous fact that Bas van Fraassen’s account of scientific realism is strikingly similar to Arthur Fine’s account of scientific non-realism. To resolve this puzzle, I demonstrate how the two theorists understand the nature of truth and its connection to ontology, and how that informs their conception of the realism debate. I then argue that the debate is much better captured by the theory of truthmaking, and not by (...)
  31. Truthmaking for Modal Skeptics.Jamin Asay - 2013 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 2 (4):303-312.
    Standard truthmaker theory has generally assumed a realist account of de re modality and essences. But there are reasons to be skeptical about such a view, and for considering antirealist alternatives. Can truthmaker theory survive in the face of such skepticism? I argue that it can, but that only certain antirealist perspectives on de re modality are acceptable for truthmaker theory. In particular, either a quasi-realist or conventionalist account of de re modality is needed to provide the best account of (...)
  32. Truthmaking, Metaethics, and Creeping Minimalism.Jamin Asay - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 163 (1):213-232.
    Creeping minimalism threatens to cloud the distinction between realist and anti-realist metaethical views. When anti-realist views equip themselves with minimalist theories of truth and other semantic notions, they are able to take on more and more of the doctrines of realism (such as the existence of moral truths, facts, and beliefs). But then they start to look suspiciously like realist views. I suggest that creeping minimalism is a problem only if moral realism is understood primarily as a semantic doctrine. I (...)
  33. A Truthmaking Account of Realism and Anti-Realism.Jamin Asay - 2012 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 93 (3):373-394.
    Realism and anti-realism about a domain of thought are metaphysical theses that involve the natures of the truthmakers in that domain and the truthmaking relation that is operant in the domain. Truthmaker theory is not exclusive territory for realists: anti-realist views are also best understood in terms of how they understand truthmakers and truthmaking. In particular, I explore the possibility of projectivist truthmaking, and show how it makes sense of quasi-realism. In addition to critically examining some extant accounts of the (...)
  34. Truthmaking, Truth, and Realism: New Work for a Theory of Truthmakers.Jamin Asay - 2011 - Dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Truthmaker theory begins with the idea that truth depends upon reality. When a truth-bearer is true, that is because something or other in the world makes it true. My dissertation offers a theory of truthmakers that shows how we should flesh out this thought while avoiding the contentious metaphysical commitments that are built into other truthmaker theories. Because of these commitments, many philosophers have come to view truthmaker theory as being essentially tied to correspondence theories of truth, and to metaphysical (...)
  35. The Hard Road to Presentism.Jamin Asay & Sam Baron - 2014 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 95 (3):314-335.
    It is a common criticism of presentism – the view according to which only the present exists – that it errs against truthmaker theory. Recent attempts to resolve the truthmaker objection against presentism proceed by restricting truthmaker maximalism (the view that all truths have truthmakers), maintaining that propositions concerning the past are not made true by anything, but are true nonetheless. Support for this view is typically garnered from the case for negative existential propositions, which some philosophers contend are exceptions (...)
  36. Unstable Truthmaking.Jamin Asay & Sam Baron - 2012 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 1 (3):230-238.
    Recent discussion of the problem of negative existentials for truthmaker theory suggests a modest solution to the problem: fully general negative truths like do not require truthmakers, whereas partially general negative truths like do. This modest solution provides a third alternative to the two standard solutions to the problem of negative existentials: the endorsement of truthmaker gaps, and the appeal to contentious ontological posits. We argue that this modest, middle-ground position is inconsistent with certain plausible general principles for truthmaking. The (...)
  37. The Truthmaking Argument Against Dispositionalism.Christopher J. Austin - 2015 - Ratio 28 (3):271-285.
    According to dispositionalism, de re modality is grounded in the intrinsic natures of dispositional properties. Those properties are able to serve as the ground of de re modal truths, it is said, because they bear a special relation to counterfactual conditionals, one of truthmaking. However, because dispositionalism purports to ground de re modality only on the intrinsic natures of dispositional properties, it had better be the case that they do not play that truthmaking role merely in virtue of their being (...)
  38. Fazedores-de-verdade.Azambuja Rodrigues Filho Abílio - 2009 - Doispontos 6 (2).
    This papers’ goal is to present a survey of the contemporary discussions regarding truthmakers. The emphasis will be on the characterization of the truthmaking relation and on the problems involved in universal propositions and negations.
  39. The Ontological Status of Truthmakers: An Alternative to Tractarianism and Metaphysical Anti-Realism.Murat Baç - 2003 - Metaphysica 4 (2):5-28.
    This paper aims to describe and defend a Pluralistic Kantian, as opposed to a Tractarian, version of realism vis-à-vis the ontological basis of truthmaking relations. One underlying assumption of my position is that propositional truth is a robust property and, consequently, is normatively distinct from epistemic justification. Still, it does not follow from this realist contention that truth is generated ontologically, viz., independently of cognitive and intensional contributions of human agents. This point brings my view notably close to H. Putnam’s (...)
  40. Alethic Actualism: A Quasi-Realist Theory of Truth and Knowledge.Murat Mutlu Bac - 2001 - Dissertation, University of Alberta (Canada)
    This thesis offers a theory of actual human cognizers' epistemic connection to truth of their beliefs or statements. It comprises four major parts. First, I develop a quasirealist metaphysic which differs, in fundamental ways, from the customary realist and anti-realist ontologies. Second, I produce an account of nonepistemic truth and truthmaking relation according to which there is an irreducible logical gap between the concepts of propositional truth and evidential support. Although such a characterization places me in the same camp with (...)
  41. Scheme-Based Alethic Realism: Agency, the Environment, and Truthmaking.Murat Baç & Renée Elio - 2004 - Minds and Machines 14 (2):173-196.
    This paper presents a position called Scheme-based Alethic Realism, which reconciles a realist position on the nature of truth with a pluralistic Kantian perspective that allows for multiple environments in which truthmaking relationships are established. We argue that truthmaking functions are constrained by a stable phenomenal world and a stable cognitive architecture. This account takes truth as normatively distinct from epistemic justification while relativizing the truth conditions of our statements to what we call Frameworks. The pluralistic aspect allows that these (...)
  42. Presentism and the Grounding of Truth.Alex Baia - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 159 (3):341-356.
    Many philosophers believe that truth is grounded: True propositions depend for their truth on the world. Some philosophers believe that truth’s grounding has implications for our ontology of time. If truth is grounded, then truth supervenes on being. But if truth supervenes on being, then presentism is false since, on presentism, e.g., that there were dinosaurs fails to supervene on the whole of being plus the instantiation pattern of properties and relations. Call this the grounding argument against presentism. Many presentists (...)
  43. Heil’s Two-Category Ontology and Causation.Joseph A. Baltimore - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (5):1091-1099.
    In his recent book, The Universe As We Find It, John Heil offers an updated account of his two-category ontology. One of his major goals is to avoid including relations in his basic ontology. While there can still be true claims positing relations, such as those of the form “x is taller than y” and “x causes y,” they will be true in virtue of substances and their monadic, non-relational properties. That is, Heil’s two-category ontology is deployed to provide non-relational (...)
  44. Semantic Paradox and Alethic Undecidability.Stephen Barker - 2014 - Analysis 74 (2):201-209.
    I use the principle of truth-maker maximalism to provide a new solution to the semantic paradoxes. According to the solution, AUS, its undecidable whether paradoxical sentences are grounded or ungrounded. From this it follows that their alethic status is undecidable. We cannot assert, in principle, whether paradoxical sentences are true, false, either true or false, neither true nor false, both true and false, and so on. AUS involves no ad hoc modification of logic, denial of the T-schema's validity, or obvious (...)
  45. Expressivism About Making and Truth-Making.Stephen Barker - 2012 - In Fabrice Correia & Benjamin Schnieder (eds.), Metaphysical Grounding: Understanding the Structure of Reality. Cambridge University Press. pp. 272-293.
    My goal is to illuminate truth-making by way of illuminating the relation of making. My strategy is not to ask what making is, in the hope of a metaphysical theory about is nature. It's rather to look first to the language of making. The metaphor behind making refers to agency. It would be absurd to suggest that claims about making are claims about agency. It is not absurd, however, to propose that the concept of making somehow emerges from some feature (...)
  46. Truth-Making and the Alethic Undecidability of the Liar.Stephen Barker - 2012 - Discusiones Filosóficas 13 (21):13 - 31.
  47. A Bump on the Road to Presentism.Sam Baron - 2015 - American Philosophical Quarterly 52 (4):345-355.
    Presentism faces a familiar objection from truthmaker theory. How can propositions about the past be made true if past entities do not exist? In answering this question, there are, broadly, two roads open to the presentist. The easy road to presentism proceeds by capitulating to the demands imposed by truthmaker theory and finding truthmakers for claims about the past. This road typically involves the invocation of controversial metaphysical posits that must then be defended. The hard road to presentism resists the (...)
  48. Tensed Truthmaker Theory.Sam Baron - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (5):923-944.
    Presentism faces a serious challenge from truthmaker theory. Standard solutions to the truthmaker objection against presentism proceed in one of two ways. Easy road presentists invoke new entities to satisfy the requirements of truthmaker theory. Hard road presentists, by contrast, flatly refuse to give in to truthmaker demands. Recently, a third way has been proposed. This response seeks to address the truthmaking problem by tensing our truthmaker principles. These views, though intuitive, are under-developed. In this paper, I get serious about (...)
  49. Talking About the Past.Sam Baron - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (3):547-560.
    In this paper I consider the aboutness objection against standard truth-preserving presentism (STP). According to STP: (1) past-directed propositions (propositions that seem to be about the past) like , are sometimes true (2) truth supervenes on being and (3) the truth of past-directed propositions does not supervene on how things were, in the past. According to the aboutness objection (3) is implausible, given (1) and (2): for any proposition, P, P ought to be true in virtue of what P is (...)
  50. Tensed Supervenience: A No‐Go for Presentism.Sam Baron - 2013 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 51 (3):383-401.
    Recent attempts to resolve the truthmaker objection to presentism employ a fundamentally tensed account of the relationship between truth and being. On this view, the truth of a proposition concerning the past supervenes on how things are, in the present, along with how things were, in the past. This tensed approach to truthmaking arises in response to pressure placed on presentists to abandon the standard response to the truthmaker objection, whereby one invokes presently existing entities as the supervenience base for (...)
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