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Can Truthmaker Theorists Claim Ontological Free Lunches?


  • Peter Schulte

Peter Schulte

Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

Institut für Philosophie



Truthmaker theorists hold that propositions about higher-level entities (e.g. the proposition that there is a heap of sand) are often made true by lower-level entities (e.g. by facts about the configuration of fundamental particles). This generates a problem: what should we say about these higher-level entities? On the one hand, they must exist (since there are true propositions about them), on the other hand, it seems that they are completely superfluous and should be banished for reasons of ontological parsimony. Some truthmaker theorists—most prominently David Armstrong—have tried to solve this puzzle by arguing that these entities are ‘an ontological free lunch’, i.e. real existents that are still ‘no addition of being’. This answer is prima facie attractive, but I argue in this paper that the standard approaches to truthmaking—modal theories and grounding theories—are unable to vindicate the doctrine of the ontological free lunch, and thus fail to solve the problem of higher-level entities. Fortunately, there is a non-standard account of truthmaking available, the reductive explanation account, which succeeds where the standard approaches fail.

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