Document Type



Armstrong’s Possibility principle


A necessary part of David Armstrong’s account of truthmakers for modal truths is his Possibility principle: any truthmaker for a contingent truth is also a truthmaker for the possibility of the complement of that contingent truth (if T makes p true and p is contingent, then T makes }*p true). I criticize Armstrong’s Possibility principle for two reasons. First, his argument for the Possibility principle both relies on an unwarranted generalization and vitiates his desire for relevant truthmakers. His argument undercuts relevant truthmakers by entailing that each contingent being is a truthmaker for all modal truths. Second, even if the argument seems successful, the Possibility principle is subject to counterexamples. Armstrong’s being composed of more than fifty atoms makes it true that something composed of more than fifty atoms exists and that truth is contingent, but his being composed of more than fifty atoms does not make it true that it is possible that it is not the case that something composed of more than fifty atoms exists.

Published in

Australasian Journal of Philosophy

Citation/Other Information

Pawl, T.J. (2010). The possibility principle and the truthmakers for modal truths. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 88(3), 417-428.

Included in

Philosophy Commons