The Problem with Truthmaker Maximalism

Truthmakers are roughly the things that make true certain truth bearers.  That definition is purposefully ambiguous as the exact definition of a truthmaker is dependent upon one’s notion of truth and what exactly the truth bearers are.  Nonetheless, that’s enough detail to understand the idea.

The following is called truthmaker maximalism: for every truth, there is something in the world that makes it true.  However, consider the following objection that has been raised against truthmaker maximalism in the literature:

(1)  This sentence has no truthmaker.

Suppose (1) is true.  Then, by the truth of (1) it is the case that (1) has no truthmaker.  However, that contradicts truthmaker maximalism.  If we suppose (1) is false, then (1) has a truthmaker even though it’s false.  However, that’s a contradiction in terms and so that cannot be viable either.  Thus, (1) shows that truthmaker maximalism is false.

Now, some have tried to argue against this example, but none of the responses seem very satisfying to me and so we shall go on by assuming (1) successfully shows that truthmaker maximalism is false.

The person who used to hold to truthmaker maximalism might regroup by saying, “sure, (1) shows that truthmaker maximalism is false, but then we can just stipulate that truthmaker maximalism excepting (1) is true.”  Supposing this is an acceptable move, there is a problem.  For we can now construct an infinite number of sentences that don’t have truthmakers.

Take any sentence that is true and thus has a truthmaker.  Now, conjoin that sentence with (1).  This new sentence does not have a truthmaker either.  Thus, there are an infinite number of exceptions to truthmaker maximalism.  The best route for the truthmaker proponent seems to regroup and exclude from the truthmaker maximalism definition any sentence that is (1) or contains (1) or rule out self-referential statements.

What Does Explanation even Mean?

Take Pruss’ definition of the principle of sufficient reason: every contingent fact has an explanation.  Now, given my last post on showing what a term means, we can use the principle of sufficient reason as a test case.  More specifically, we will look at the word explanation.

So explanation has been taken to be synonymous with cause.  Thus: every contingent fact has a cause.  If that is true, then since libertarian free choices, they violate the principle of sufficient reason.  However, it seems like my libertarian choice really is explained by the following facts: I exist, I have libertarian freedom, and I have certain reasons to make the choice I do.  And so a casewise view of explaining a term would show that definition of “explanation” to be false.  Moreover, the same sort of thing also seems to hold for certain interpretations of quantum mechanics.

So what we have done here is start off with a definition and then used real life examples to see if that definition works.  This is the strategy I suggested in the post above.  The final part of the strategy is to give a new definition of the term.  Maybe it is this: a contingent fact is explained if given the facts that are proposed as the explanation of the fact trying to be explained, it is no longer seen as mysterious how the fact that is trying to be explained obtains.

Adam Contra Evil

Let’s look at the following argument I saw on a different website:

1. If Adam has [sic] chosen otherwise, there would be no evil.
2. It was possible for Adam to choose otherwise.
3. There is a possible world without evil.
C. All evil is unnecessary.

As to logical validity, (3) follows but (C) comes out of nowhere.  There is a hidden premise somewhere in here that needs to be brought out and so the argument holds no force as is since it’s not logically valid.  However, it will be an interesting exercise to look at the argument.

First, (1) is not obvious for it seems clear that it could be the case that Adam chose otherwise in his first sin and yet sinned latter. Or, if we see the serpent as sinning then that would be another example.  Moreover, Eve also sinned so there’s another counterexample.  So (1) is not correct as is, so it would need to be reformulated.

As to (2), that’s not as obvious either.  I suppose the argument wants to say something like the following:

(2.1) If Adam has libertarian free will, then it’s possible that he chooses otherwise.
(2.2) Adam has libertarian free will.
(2) Therefore, it’s possible that he chooses otherwise.

I personally do not find (2.1) very compelling myself.  I tend to think that the Frankfurt counterexamples to the principle of alternative possibilities are sound and so (2.1) is not obvious as is.

But let’s say the argument is reformulated so that (3) follows and the argument is sound.  So what?  The problem here is that it is missing still a further premise.  Namely:

(4) If a world is a possible world, then that world is a feasible world.

However, molinism denies (4) and so any problem is avoided.

All in all, therefore, it seems like a bit closer reading of Plantinga would clear up this argument right away.  The free will defense still stands, then.