Kevin Mulligan
of Hamburg

Peter Simons
of Salzburg

Barry Smith
of Manchester


From: Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 44 (1984), 287-321.

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When I speak of a fact . . . I mean the kind of thing that makes a proposition true or false. (Russell, 1972, p. 36.)

A realist theory of truth for a class of sentence holds that there are entities in virtue of which these sentences are true or false. We call such entities ‘truthmakers’ and contend that those for a wide range of sentences about the real world are moments (dependent particulars). Since moments are unfamiliar we provide a definition and a brief philosophical history, anchoring them in our ontology by showing that they are objects of perception. The core of our theory is the account of truthmaking for atomic sentences, in which we expose a pervasive ‘dogma of logical form’, which says that atomic sentences cannot have more than one truthmaker. The authors uphold the mutual independence of logical and ontological complexity. The theory is compared with that of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, and the authors outline formal principles of truthmaking taking account of both kinds of complexity and suggesting how to overcome Wittgenstein’s problem of negation.


Reprinted in Jean-Maurice Monnoyer, Metaphysics and Truthmakers, Frankfurt/Lancaster/New Brunswik: Ontos, 9-50.

Reprinted in E. J. Lowe and A. Rami (eds.), Truth and Truth-Making, Chesham: Acumen (2009), 59-86.

German translation as: “Wahrmacher”, in L. Bruno Puntel (ed.), Der Wahrheitsbegriff. Neue Explikationsversuche (a collection of readings on modern theories of truth), Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft (1987), 210–255.

French translation as “Vérifacteurs”, études de philosophie, no. 9-10, 2008-2011 (published August 2011), translated by B. Langlet and J.-F. Rosecchi, 104-138.