Possibility, Actuality, Necessity

David M. Armstrong

in Sketch for a Systematic Metaphysics

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780199590612
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723391 | DOI:
Possibility, Actuality, Necessity

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It is argued, using the Entailment Principle, that for any contingent truth, the truthmaker for the truth is also a truthmaker for the possibility that it is false. This may be called the Possibility Principle. These possibilities, therefore, come at a very low ontological cost. They supervene. The actual is identical with the existents, with the being. There are no levels of being, and no special link with the present. What exist are contingent states of affairs. There are no necessary beings. The truthmakers for analytic truths are the meanings of the symbols used to assert them. The truthmakers for conceptual truths are mental concepts. But necessary connections in the world between contingent existences are not ruled out, e.g. universals and particulars, and the fundamental logical and mathematical laws. It seems possible that there could have been nothing at all.

Keywords: possibility; actuality; necessity; analytic truths; laws; contingency

Chapter.  2249 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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