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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

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Bill,

I certainly agree with you that Ed's argument is a non-starter and for the reasons you state. However, I do have a concern about one point in your argument above.

On the one hand, you argue convincingly that Tom alone cannot be the truth maker for the sentence 'Tom is tired' because then Tom would also be the truth maker for an indefinite number of sentences that are true of Tom alone. I think this is correct. Hence, truth makers cannot be individual entities but structured entities such as state-of-affairs or facts.

On the other hand, you maintain that the truth-maker for the sentence 'F exists', where 'F' is the name of the state of affairs of Tom's being tired, is just F itself. But why in the case of 'Tom is tired' Tom alone is insufficient as truth maker whereas in the case of 'F exists' F alone is sufficient?

Consider the sentence 'F is improbable/impossible (etc.,)' (i.e., Tom being tired is an improbable state of affairs). You are now committed to saying that the truth maker of this sentence is also F alone. But then F is going to be the truth maker of both 'F exists' and 'F is improbable'. Would this be as absurd as the case of Tom alone being the truth maker of both 'Tom is tired' and 'Tom is manic'?

Thanks for the excellent comment, Peter.

>>But why in the case of 'Tom is tired' is Tom alone insufficient as truth maker whereas in the case of 'F exists' F alone is sufficient?<<

Because 'Tom is tired' is a predication whereas 'F exists' is not a predication but an existential sentence.

Consider 'Tom exists.' In this case the truth-maker is arguably just Tom. For Tom is nothing if he doesn't exist, and so if you have Tom then you have all you need for 'Tom exists' to be true. Just as Tom suffices as T-maker for 'Tom exists,' F suffices as T-maker for 'F exists.'

Consider now 'Tom's being tired is improbable.' This is a predicative sentence: it predicates improbability of a state of affairs or fact. The truth-maker of this is not Tom's being tired butt he fact of Tom's being tired's being improbable.

So F is not the T-maker of both 'F exists' and 'F is improbable.'

Have I convinced you?

At this point Ed may smell an infinite regress. He might say, OK, F is a fact and F's being improbable is a distinct fact. But there is also the fact of F's being improbable's being a fact, and the further fact of F's being improbable's being fact's being a fact, etc.

But I say no truth-maker regress arises becuase the TM principle applies only to contingent sentences. 'F's being improbable's being a fact' is not a contingent sentence.'

I had exactly the same objection as Peter. Why is 'Tom exists' different from 'Tom sits'?

Your reply to Peter is:

>>Consider 'Tom exists.' In this case the truth-maker is arguably just Tom. For Tom is nothing if he doesn't exist, and so if you have Tom then you have all you need for 'Tom exists' to be true. Just as Tom suffices as T-maker for 'Tom exists,' F suffices as T-maker for 'F exists.'
<<

I would have to think about that. Meanwhile, my blog has been overrun by cyberpunks, calling each other 'troll'.

Ed,

That's not the same objection as Peter's. Peter grants that Tom cannot be the truth-maker of 'Tom sits' and the like.

Ed,

Your toleration of cyberpunks has come back to bite you . . . Doesn't Blogger have comment moderation?

I thought Peter's argument was also an appeal to equal reasoning. He says "why in the case of 'Tom is tired' Tom alone is insufficient as truth maker whereas in the case of 'F exists' F alone is sufficient?"

The difference between you and Peter is that you assume that if there is such a truth-making fact as Tom's being tired, then the truth-maker of 'Tom exists' must also be a fact, the fact of Tom's existing. Peter is not assuming that. He grants that Tom himself suffices as truth-maker for 'Tom exists.'

Meanwhile I have put up two more posts on these topics. Do I suffer from graphomania? Cacoethes scribendi?

And what about you? Did you lose your job? You are learning how to blog and keep up the flow.

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