A Platonic explanation of non-modal and modal truths is explained and defended using non-spatiotemporal entities as their truthmakers. It is argued, further, that this theory is parsimonious, naturalistic, and ontologically serious. These features should commend the view to a wide swath of philosophers.
This is a preview of subscription content,to check access.
Access this article
I’m not asking: What is the visual inscription, or the auditory utterance, or the mental thought token. These things are all symbols or images of something else. Instead, the question here is: what is (1) an image of? How images refer to other things, or how symbols stand for other things, is not an issue I can take up here.
Alternatively, if one does not accept states-of-affairs as the truthmakers, then it would likely be some substance having some property that makes (1) true, e.g., my having the property of sitting.
Though Vlastos (1969: 305) recognizes this distinction as well, he calls the second question a logical question instead of a different kind of scientific question. Unlike Vlastos, I think that Plato’s Forms are not discovered by logic but by science, just as the causal-mechanical explanations are discovered by science and not by logic.
If an instance of an evolutionary process which produces some new beneficial structure is a temporally extended thing, then a person’s smoking for 40 years cited as a cause of some cancerous patch on that person’s lung is a temporally extended thing as well.
Cf. Enç (1986).
If an individual or personal identity is wanted, then the complete set of contingently related n-dimensional scale-relative parameters true of whatever region of spacetime one is interested in constitutes that identity. But there is no science of that. At best, it would merely be a list which together uniquely corresponds to that region.
Cf. Russell’s method of eliminating names in favor of descriptions. Russell uses this method for all names, whether referring or not. A Platonist would only use it for empty names and as we shall see forthwith, for falsehoods.
Unless I state otherwise, I am only trying to explain modal truths where the non-modal version of that truth is false.
If the non-modal version of the modal truth is not false, then this restriction does not apply.
See the previous footnote.
Again, if the non-modal version of this modal truth is not false, then this restriction would not apply.
Previous qualification applies.
See Berman 2008 for how I deal with Armstrong’s theory.
Lewis gladly endorses this claim. That is, he would say that he is just trying to give an analysis and not an explanation. However, given that science aims to give an explanation of the spatiotemporal world and not just analyze it, as Lewis would put it, I think Lewis’ theory falls unnecessarily short of what is required of a scientifically integrated metaphysical theory. I argue for this elsewhere.
Adams, R. M. 1974. ‘Theories of Actuality,’ Noûs 8: 211–231.
Batterman, R. 2002. The Devil in the Details. (Oxford University Press).
Berman, S. 1996. ‘Plato’s Explanation of False Belief in the Sophist.’ Apeiron 29: 19–46.
Berman, S. 2008. ‘Universals: Ways or Things?” Metaphysica 9: 219–234.
Enç, B. 1986. “Essentialism without Individual Essences: Causation, Kinds, Supervenience, and Restricted Identities,” in Midwest Studies in Philosophy: Studies in Essentialism, edited by French, Uehling, and Wettstein. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press): 403–426.
Ladyman, J. and Ross, D. 2007. Every Thing Must Go. (Oxford University Press).
Lewis, D. 1983. “New Work for a Theory of Universals,” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61: 343–377.
Lewis, D. 1986. On the Plurality of Worlds. (Oxford: Basil Blackwell).
Plantinga, A. 1976. “Actualism and Possible Worlds,” Theoria 42: 139–160.
Stalnaker, R. 1976. “Possible Worlds,” Noûs 10: 65–75.
Vlastos, G. 1969. “Reasons and Causes in the Phaedo,” Philosophical Review 78: 291–325.
I would like to thank audiences at the University of Arizona, Oxford University and the University of Stirling but especially Alexander Bird, Anders Carlsson, James Ladyman, Anna Marmodoro, Tim Pawl, Terry Penner, Richard Pettigrew, Naomi Reshotko, Sam Rickless, and Matt Tugby for helpful discussions and/or for comments on earlier drafts.