Truthmaker commitments

Philosophical Studies 141 (1):7-19 (2008)
On the truthmaker view of ontological commitment [Heil (From an ontological point of view, 2003); Armstrong (Truth and truthmakers, 2004); Cameron (Philosophical Studies, 2008)], a theory is committed to the entities needed in the world for the theory to be made true. I argue that this view puts truthmaking to the wrong task. None of the leading accounts of truthmaking—via necessitation, supervenience, or grounding—can provide a viable measure of ontological commitment. But the grounding account does provide a needed constraint on what is fundamental. So I conclude that truthmaker commitments are not a rival to quantifier commitments, but a needed complement. The quantifier commitments are what a theory says exists, while the truthmaker commitments are what a theory says is fundamental.
Keywords Truthmaker  Commitment  Grounding  Fundamental
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References found in this work BETA
D. M. Armstrong (1993). A World of States of Affairs. Philosophical Perspectives 7 (3):429-440.

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Citations of this work BETA
A. R. J. Fisher (2016). Truthmaking and Fundamentality. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 97 (4):448-473.
Donnchadh O'Conaill & Tuomas E. Tahko (2016). Minimal Truthmakers. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 97 (2):228-244.

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Cross-posted from


This week we discussed Schaffer’s ‘Truthmaker Commitments’, which is a critique of a certain view of ontological commitment associated with Armstrong and with Ross Cameron. It’s worth reading Cameron’s reply to Schaffer as well. No presentation to put here as yet; but the papers themselves are quite clear and concise. Various thoughts follow:

Gonzalo raised an issue about the notion of ‘implication’ being used by the quantifier view. If a theory’s ontological commitments are what it says exists, as Schaffer glosses it, then a theory is committed to certain entailments of the particular sentences or propositions which explicitly make it up. But a theory’s commitment should not include necessary existents, whose existence is entailed by any set of sentences. Perhaps, though, this is a problem more with this gloss on the quantifier view than an objection to Quine’s own view.

Schaffer could have said more in defence of the quantifier view ... (read more)