Aboutness and ontology: a modest approach to truthmakers

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Truthmaker theory has been used to argue for substantial conclusions about the categorial structure of the world, in particular that states of affairs are needed to play the role of truthmakers. In this paper, I argue that closely considering the role of aboutness in truthmaking, that is considering what truthbearers are about, yields the result that there is no good truthmaker-based reason to think that truthmakers must be states of affairs understood as existing entities, whether complex or simple. First, I introduce an aboutness-based account of truthmaking as a metaphysically modest alternative to the orthodox necessitarian account of truthmaking. Second, I discuss the distinction between states and events that has been made on the basis of linguistic evidence regarding aspectual markers and nominalisation. I argue that the modest approach to truthmaking allows us to accept that there is a real distinction between states and events without requiring that the distinction is ontologically substantial. Specifically, what we are talking about with state-truthbearers really differs from what we are talking about with event-truthbearers, but this difference need not be understood as a difference in kinds of entities. Because of its overall modesty, this is a theoretically virtuous result.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-533
Number of pages29
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Aboutness
  • Modesty
  • Nominalisation
  • Ontology
  • Quantifiers
  • States of affairs
  • Truthmakers
  • Verb aspect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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