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

5 - Negative truths

Summary

Chapters 5 and 6, on truthmakers for negative truths and general truths, were originally conceived of as one chapter, because the two topics are closely linked. They have been separated to make it easier for the reader. I would also like to call attention to the penultimate section of chapter 6: ‘New thinking about general facts’. It puts forward a rather different line to that taken in the rest of the two chapters, one that depends on taking the instantiation of universals by particulars as a matter of partial identity, a matter already canvassed in 4.3 and 4.4. It involves important changes in my view on a number of matters.

INTRODUCTION

Problems about not-being have been with philosophy since the time of Parmenides, at least. They constitute some of the most difficult problems in the discipline of metaphysics. Within truthmaking theory they appear as the question what truthmakers we are to provide for truths of non-existence, for instance the truths that centaurs and unicorns do not exist, and all the true denials that things that do exist have certain (positive) properties or relations, for instance the lack of whiteness of certain swans. We also need to extend the enquiry to general truths, for instance the truths that all men are mortal or all ravens are black. For these, too, are a species of negative truth, ‘no more’ truths, asserting that there are no more men than the mortal ones, no more ravens than the black ones.

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