Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Feser's Aristotle's Revenge

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • #16
    Originally posted by DanielCC View Post
    With all due respect rejecting the truthmaker principle is close to madness - something like it at least is one of the most basic ontological principles and consequences of the correspondence theory of truth.
    I think the truthmaker principle is a classic example of taking one particularly clear case and turning it into a paradigm for all. Truths about the past, truths about the future, mathematical truths, logical truths--if one thought first of such truths, one would never be tempted by the truthmaker principle. But once one recognizes the truthmaker principle's apparent fitness for sentences like "The cat is on the mat," we're off to the races, saying that "Socrates died" can only be true if Socrates exists (not now--he just needs to exist in some sense), and wondering what sort of things mathematical entities are.

    Comment


    • #17
      Originally posted by Greg View Post
      I think the truthmaker principle is a classic example of taking one particularly clear case and turning it into a paradigm for all. Truths about the past, truths about the future, mathematical truths, logical truths--if one thought first of such truths, one would never be tempted by the truthmaker principle.

      Why on earth not? The idea of there having to be some ground for eternal truths is an old idea, one that came along before even the truthmaker principle was formulated. I can only think of rampant question-begging anti-platonism as the reason why one should think otherwise.

      Comment


      • #18
        Originally posted by DanielCC View Post
        Why on earth not? The idea of there having to be some ground for eternal truths is an old idea, one that came along before even the truthmaker principle was formulated. I can only think of rampant question-begging anti-platonism as the reason why one should think otherwise.
        I am not sure what you are saying it is rampant question-begging anti-platonism to think "otherwise" than. That mathematical entities exist? That historically people have sought to ground mathematical truths in their existence?

        I agree that people have long sought some ground for eternal truths, including in the existence of numbers. But "some ground" can mean many things. At its most promiscuous, the truthmaker principle can start to sound as though the existence of any account of the truth of a proposition will imply that the proposition has a truthmaker. If we want to talk that way, that's fine, but then truthmaking is not a bedrock ontological principle but an idiosyncratic way of redescribing our philosophical results. Let me give an example. Wittgenstein gave a famous, complex, and controverted argument about rule following. The argument resists the idea that to follow a rule, one needs first to interpret it; it (effectively) resists the idea that a person is capacitated to follow a rule in virtue of possessing some self-standing representation of the rule; etc. One way to gloss the conclusion of the argument is that there is, in a certain sense, nothing in virtue of which one follows a rule when one follows a rule. That is not to say that there is no such thing as following a rule or that the ordinary notion of following a rule is empty. It is also not to say that no account can be given of rule following; Wittgenstein thinks, for instance, that various features of the situation will be important, among them the agent's competence, the existence of a practice of rule following, the existence of a language, etc. So we want to find a truthmaker for "A followed such-and-such rule on such-and-such occasion". Is it A? Is it the fact that A followed the rule, or the event of A's following the rule? Is it the collection of relevant dispositions of the agent and practices and language along with something to single out this occasion? Or does the right version of the truthmaker principle a priori rule out such an account of rule following as Wittgenstein's? Frankly I have no idea, and I don't see that it matters. The requirement that I find something to call the truthmaker seems like idle spinning.

        One very quick track to mathematical platonism would be to take the truthmaker principle to license inferences to the existence of the subject and/or object and/or some nominalization of true atomic sentences which will be taken to refer to something like a fact, event, or trope of true atomic sentences. Then, since there are true sentences about numbers, there are numbers. What speaks against such an approach is of course that it is bad to read ontology off of surface grammar. Another alternative would be to find some entities in any account on which mathematical statements turn out to be true and to identify them as truthmakers. On such an account, some quite anti-realist philosophies of mathematics will be equally consonant with the truthmaker principle. What speaks against that approach is that then the truthmaker principle does not constrain ontology at all.

        Anyway, besides the range of occasions where I think the truthmaker principle is liable to leave one under an imaginary constraint, and besides the bad ideas it is liable to inspire, I think it evinces a tendency to separate world and mind/language too much. There are a combination of considerations here. One is that, for truthmakers such as events and facts, we have very little grip on them apart from our notion of the truth of a sentence. But making-true is an explanatory relation, and there needs to be sufficient "distance" between explanans and explanandum for it to hold. I think this is related to one of Wittgenstein's remarks:
        All theories that make a proposition of logic appear to have content are false. One might think, for example, that the words 'true' and 'false' signified two properties among other properties, and then it would seem to be a remarkable fact that every proposition possessed one of these properties. On this theory it seems to be anything but obvious, just as, for instance, the proposition, 'All roses are either yellow or red', would not sound obvious even if it were true. (TLP 6.111)
        But I will have to think about how to make this argument, as it will be highly dependent on what form the truthmaker principle takes.

        In closing, I suppose I ought to apologize to Daniel for quoting the Tractatus.
        Last edited by Greg; 05-02-2019, 10:18 PM.

        Comment


        • #19
          Greg

          You know I agree with your general thesis, but with mathematical entities in particular truthmaker theory actually has the opposite problem that every possible truthmaker necessitates every necessary truth, so that oddities (like my left sock making Poincaré's theorem true) abound.

          Some truthmaker theorists like this, because it removes the need for supposedly weird mathematical entities. Others can't stomach the counterintuitiveness of it (and, if this latter is right, then this point actually supports your general thesis by pointing out problems if we start from necessary truths).

          Perhaps I'll post some of the arguments I made to you in private here later.
          Last edited by John West; 05-02-2019, 11:10 PM.

          Comment


          • #20
            (In fact, a lot of the people who developed truthmaker theory like it compared to past realist theories because, by comparison, it tends to be very deflationary, e.g. "a is coloured", "a is red", and "a is crimson" are all made true by a's being a determinate crimson property (rather than a determinable colour property, a determinable red property, a determinable crimson property, and finally the determinate crimson property we see).)
            Last edited by John West; 05-03-2019, 01:45 AM.

            Comment


            • #21
              Originally posted by John West View Post
              You know I agree with your general thesis, but with mathematical entities in particular truthmaker theory actually has the opposite problem that every possible truthmaker necessitates every necessary truth, so that oddities (like my left sock making Poincaré's theorem true) abound.
              I see. I'm aware of such problems (largely through you), although I had assumed that folks would largely regard them as formal problems to be solved by massaging the conception of truthmaking a bit. Which is why, though we are in agreement, I want to strike at the central nerve.

              Comment


              • #22
                Originally posted by Greg View Post
                I see. I'm aware of such problems (largely through you), although I had assumed that folks would largely regard them as formal problems to be solved by massaging the conception of truthmaking a bit.
                Well, most truthmaker theorists restrict the theory and say it applies to some subset of truths (e.g. affirmative, contingent truths) but not all.* So I guess you're right.

                *Honestly, I'm a bit surprised to see a dispute in which both sides accept truthmaker maximalism.
                Last edited by John West; 05-03-2019, 03:03 AM.

                Comment


                • #23
                  Originally posted by Greg View Post
                  I am not sure what you are saying it is rampant question-begging anti-platonism to think "otherwise" than. That mathematical entities exist? That historically people have sought to ground mathematical truths in their existence?

                  I agree that people have long sought some ground for eternal truths, including in the existence of numbers. But "some ground" can mean many things. At its most promiscuous, the truthmaker principle can start to sound as though the existence of any account of the truth of a proposition will imply that the proposition has a truthmaker. If we want to talk that way, that's fine, but then truthmaking is not a bedrock ontological principle but an idiosyncratic way of redescribing our philosophical results.
                  The truthmaker principle, or at least it's weaker truth suprvenes on being cousin, does seem like a necessary concomitment of the corrospondence theory of truth. It's only a trivial observation though if one considers the corrospondence theory to be the only workable account of truth


                  Originally posted by Greg View Post
                  Let me give an example. Wittgenstein gave a famous, complex, and controverted argument about rule following. The argument resists the idea that to follow a rule, one needs first to interpret it; it (effectively) resists the idea that a person is capacitated to follow a rule in virtue of possessing some self-standing representation of the rule; etc. One way to gloss the conclusion of the argument is that there is, in a certain sense, nothing in virtue of which one follows a rule when one follows a rule. That is not to say that there is no such thing as following a rule or that the ordinary notion of following a rule is empty. It is also not to say that no account can be given of rule following; Wittgenstein thinks, for instance, that various features of the situation will be important, among them the agent's competence, the existence of a practice of rule following, the existence of a language, etc. So we want to find a truthmaker for "A followed such-and-such rule on such-and-such occasion". Is it A? Is it the fact that A followed the rule, or the event of A's following the rule? Is it the collection of relevant dispositions of the agent and practices and language along with something to single out this occasion? Or does the right version of the truthmaker principle a priori rule out such an account of rule following as Wittgenstein's? Frankly I have no idea, and I don't see that it matters.
                  Lack of interest does not constitute an argument though. What constitutes a truthmaker depends on what one allows in one's ontology e.g. whether one admits facts or events as basic entities. Concerns about truthmaking might shape this (we might for instance prefer to include facts rather than events beacuse they have a quasi-sentence like structure) but the question of what is what is going to arise even if one doesn't endorse the truthmaker principle. There's a lot of questions bundled up in your example which would still remain questions were they asked in a different context e.g. what ontological category does a game belong to or are there true or false statements about fictional entities.

                  Originally posted by Greg View Post
                  Anyway, besides the range of occasions where I think the truthmaker principle is liable to leave one under an imaginary constraint, and besides the bad ideas it is liable to inspire, I think it evinces a tendency to separate world and mind/language too much. There are a combination of considerations here. One is that, for truthmakers such as events and facts, we have very little grip on them apart from our notion of the truth of a sentence. But making-true is an explanatory relation, and there needs to be sufficient "distance" between explanans and explanandum for it to hold. I think this is related to one of Wittgenstein's remarks: Tractatus.
                  You're going in both directions here Greg. The truthmaker principle evinces a tendecy to seperate world and language too much and does allow enough distance between proposition and world?

                  You are right that I didn't mention point fingers at Wittgenstein in that last post though I very well could have - in both phases he was responsible for pushing the idea that non cat-sat-on-matt type truths - logical, mathematical or metaphysical say - are vacus or products of linguistic formalism (true in his Investigations stage the same corona of ambiguity would extend to 'so' called normal truths too).
                  Last edited by DanielCC; 05-03-2019, 06:52 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by DanielCC View Post
                    The truthmaker principle, or at least it's weaker truth suprvenes on being cousin, does seem like a necessary concomitment of the corrospondence theory of truth. It's only a trivial observation though if one considers the corrospondence theory to be the only workable account of truth
                    Yeah, I am going to be worried about the correspondence theory of truth in the same range of cases.

                    Originally posted by DanielCC View Post
                    Lack of interest does not constitute an argument though. What constitutes a truthmaker depends on what one allows in one's ontology e.g. whether one admits facts or events as basic entities. Concerns about truthmaking might shape this (we might for instance prefer to include facts rather than events beacuse they have a quasi-sentence like structure) but the question of what is what is going to arise even if one doesn't endorse the truthmaker principle. There's a lot of questions bundled up in your example which would still remain questions were they asked in a different context e.g. what ontological category does a game belong to or are there true or false statements about fictional entities.
                    I did not mean to be arguing from lack of interest. The real concern is more with the sense that some metaphysical principle is of bedrock importance even though one is at a loss to say what it even means.

                    Originally posted by DanielCC View Post
                    You're going in both directions here Greg. The truthmaker principle evinces a tendecy to seperate world and language too much and does allow enough distance between proposition and world?
                    I'm not going in both directions. That is what I'm accusing truthmaking (certain conceptions of it) of doing. For if the making-true relation is an explanatory one, then truthmaker and truthbearer need to be as distinct as any explanans and explanandum. One will only think that, e.g., facts can serve as truthmakers if one thinks it is informative to say that "Socrates is sitting" is true because there's a fact that Socrates is sitting.

                    Originally posted by DanielCC View Post
                    You are right that I didn't mention point fingers at Wittgenstein in that last post though I very well could have - in both phases he was responsible for pushing the idea that non cat-sat-on-matt type truths - logical, mathematical or metaphysical say - are vacus or products of linguistic formalism (true in his Investigations stage the same corona of ambiguity would extend to 'so' called normal truths too).
                    The parenthetical suggestion here is that in the Investigations Wittgenstein was more inclined to treat a sentence like "the cat is on the mat" like logical and mathematical truths?

                    Comment

                    Working...
                    X