Does Armstrong need states of affairs?

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (2):193 – 209 (2006)
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In 1997, David Armstrong argued that the world is a world of states of affairs. In his latest book, Truth and Truthmakers, he remains strongly committed to the existence of states of affairs, despite now advocating an ontology in which they are not needed, 'as an ontological extra'. States of affairs remain needed, Armstrong says, 'to act as truthmakers for predicative truths'. In this paper, I attempt to shed light on what Armstrong might mean by this claim. While there is a straightforward sense in which states of affairs are not needed in Armstrong's amended ontology, I suggest that Armstrong might be charitably interpreted in a manner that justifies his claim. However, in clarifying the manner in which states of affairs remain needed in Armstrong's ontology, it becomes unclear whether they are needed in any 'deep' sense, or rather are merely parochial to his ontology. I examine Armstrong's rejection of Resemblance Nominalism on the grounds that it does not provide adequate 'minimal' truthmakers. I then argue that he has significant additional work to do in explaining this concept before his rejection of Resemblance Nominalism can be justified, and thus before the need for states of affairs can be asserted generally, rather than just within particular ontologies, such as Armstrong's amended one.



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