## Thursday, March 18, 2010

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1. The truthmaker-based defenses of divine simplicity do not require TMP. They only require that the notion of truthmaking make sense, and that some propositions have truthmakers.

2. I think that few philosophically interesting notions have definitions. But we can introduce truthmakers by way of example, and then by delineating some formal properties. That Obama exists has Obama as a truthmaker. That Obama exists or Bush is not president has Obama as a truthmaker. That Obama exists or Bush exists has Obama as a truthmaker; it also has Bush as a truthmaker. On some trope theories, that Fred is a triangle is made true by Fred's triangularity (which is a particular that couldn't exist without being the triangularity of Fred). Etc. We can delineate some formal properties. Only true propositions have truthmakers. Any truthmaker for a disjunct is a truthmaker for a disjunction. If F(x) is a formula open in x, and then any truthmaker for the proposition that F(a), where a is a name, is a truthmaker for (Exists x)F(x). If x is a truthmaker for p, then that x exists entails that p. Moreover, if there is such a thing as relevant entailment, then this entailment is relevant. If x is a truthmaker for p, then p is at least partly about x. If x is a truthmaker for p, and p is not just a proposition asserting the existence of x, then the proposition that x exists is a constitutive explanation of p.

3. I also think the truthmaker relation can be reduced to a more general relation, the true-in-virtue-of relation that holds between propositions. Specifically, x is a truthmaker for p iff either p is the proposition that x exists or p is true in virtue of the proposition that x exists. The true-in-virtue-of relation is, in turn, something that, as far as I know, can't be defined. But we can give examples and formal properties, once again. That the knife is hot is true in virtue of the fact (=true proposition; this is stipulative, and not a substantive theory of facts) that the knife's molecules have high molecular kinetic energy. If divine command theory holds, then that murder is wrong is true in virtue of the fact that God has forbidden murder; if Kantianism is true, then that murder is wrong is true in virtue of the fact that murder violates the first categorical imperative; it is also wrong in virtue of the fact that it violates the second. If Platonism is true, than that George is F, where Fness is a basic property, is true in virtue of the fact that George instantiates Fness. If A is a mereological sum of distinct items B and C, then, I think, that A exists is true in virtue of the fact that B exists and that C exists. (I don't think there are any mereological sums, actually.) If one of Hume's accounts of causation is right, then that A causes B is true in virtue of the fact that A-type events are followed by B-type events. Much of the task of the philosopher, in every major field of philosophy, is, given an interesting truth p, to find an illuminating truth q in virtue of which p holds. If p is true in virtue of q, then q explains and entails p, and if there is such a thing as relevant entailment, it entails relevantly. If a disjunct is true in virtue of q, so is the disjunction. Only true propositions stand in the true-in-virtue-of relation.

Ad (1). You've lost me on this one. If every version of TMP is false, then it cannot be the case that "some propositions have truthmakers."

Ad (2) and (3). "That Obama exists has Obama as a truthmaker." No. Did you read my post? If you want to introduce truthmakers, then you need to give a clear example, e.g. 'Obama occupies the White House.' The clear examples suggest that if there are truthmakers, then they are either concrete states of affairs or something like them.

Bill:

TMP says, basically, that all true propositions have truthmakers. At least that's how you introduce TMP. But it is quite coherent to think that some, but not all, true propositions have truthmakers. For instance, take Lewis's paper on truthmakers. Lewis rejects TMP, but thinks that some propositions are true in virtue of having a truthmaker; some other propositions are true in virtue of lacking a falsemaker (cf. Aristotle's remark that to speak truly is to say of what is that it is or of what is not that it is not--Aristotle seems to be committed here to the theory that every true proposition is true by having a truthmaker or lacking a falsemaker); some other propositions are true in virtue of an entity having a certain property; and some propositions are combinations of these.

I am simply unconvinced that truthmakers have to have propositional structure. You write: "In the affirmative atomic monadic case, a truthmaker is a nonpropositional entity that grounds or accounts for a predicate's being true of its subject." Maybe that's true in the affirmative atomic monadic case. But it's not true in the case of a singular existential proposition.

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