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  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: September 2009

6 - General truths

Summary

TRUTHMAKERS FOR GENERAL TRUTHS

The idea being followed out is that if we have generality in the world – general facts, totality states of affairs – then these will be satisfactory truthmakers for the whole class of negative truths, that is, the more obviously negative truths plus the general truths. I here quote Russell in his defence of general facts. He says:

I do not think one can doubt that there are general facts. It is perfectly clear, I think, that when you have enumerated all the atomic facts in the world, it is a further fact about the world that those are all the atomic facts there are about the world, and that is just as much an objective fact about the world as any of them are. It is clear, I think, that you must admit general facts as distinct from and over and above particular facts. The same thing applies to ‘All men are mortal’. When you have taken all the particular men that there are, and found each one of them severally to be mortal, it is definitely a new fact that all men are mortal; how new a fact appears from what I said a moment ago, that it could not be inferred from the mortality of the several men that there are in the world.

(1972, pp. 93–4)

Here is a way of putting the argument. Take the mereological sum of what happens to be all the men.

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