Truthmaker Theory and Naturalism

David Rowe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review


This paper argues that there is a heretofore unresolved tension between truthmaker-style metaphysics and a plausible version of Naturalism. At the turn of the century, George Molnar proposed four prima facie plausible principles for a realist metaphysics in order to expose truthmaker theory's incapacity to find truthmakers for negative truths. I marshal the current plethora of attempted solutions to the problem into a crisp trilemma. Those who solve it claim that Molnar's tetrad is consistent; those who dissolve it do away with the requirement that every truth needs a truthmaker; and those who absolve it embrace a negative ontology. I argue that one is forced to absolve the problem: all other avenues undermine the truthmaker principle itself. Absolving the problem, however, does not sit well with a version of Naturalism that most would accept. We are drawn to a simple dilemma: either embrace a negative ontology, or reject truthmaker-style metaphysics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-250
Number of pages26
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • David Armstrong
  • George Molnar
  • metaphysics
  • Naturalism
  • negative truth
  • truthmaker theory

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