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7 - The general theory of truth-making

from Part I - Setting the stage

D. M. Armstrong
Affiliation:
University of Sydney
E. J. Lowe
Affiliation:
University of Durham
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Summary

Introduction

We have noticed already that simply to accept the idea that truths have truth-makers by no means dictates just what these truth-makers are. The question what truth-makers are needed for particular truths (what we take to be truths!) can be, and regularly is, as difficult as the question of metaphysics, the question of ontology. To ask the truth-maker question is, I maintain, a promising way to regiment metaphysical enquiry. But it is not a royal road. No such roads are available in philosophy. In this work I will defend various particular answers to the truth-maker question, sometimes (but not invariably) defending metaphysical positions that I have advocated in earlier work, but here always putting the truth-making question at the centre. All the more reason then, to distinguish between the general theory of truth-making and particular answers that may be given to truth-making questions. The division is not all that sharp. There is, very properly, interaction between one's general theory of truth-making and the particular truth-makers one postulates for particular classes of truths. The two enterprises have to be brought into reflective equilibrium. But it does seem worthwhile to make the distinction, and this paper will be given over to the general theory with only glances at particular doctrines.

Historical

The notion of the truth-maker may be traced right back to Aristotle. (See, in particular, Categories, 14b, 14–22.) Aristotle’s remarks were noted by a number of leading Scholastic philosophers, but the notion seems after this to have gone underground for some centuries, although intimations of it may be found here and there. The notion is present in Russell’s thought, and in his later philosophizing he introduced a term for the notion, the somewhat unfortunate word ‘verifier’ (Russell 1940, 1948, 1959a). Reference to truth-makers, and some development of truth-making theory, is now quite widespread among philosophers working in Australia. I think that the source is always C. B. Martin, as certainly it was for me.

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Truth and Truth-Making , pp. 115 - 134
Publisher: Acumen Publishing
Print publication year: 2008

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