Together with Kit Fine, we are holding a three-day conference on

Truthmaker Semantics

Applications in Philosophy and Linguistics

The conference will take place

  • on 29-31 July 2019.
  • in Hamburg, Edmund-Siemers-Allee 1 (Main Building), Akademischer Senatssaal


Monday, 29 July

  • 09.30-11.00 [Keynote] Steve Yablo (MIT), Omniscience and Aboutness
  • 11.15-12.15 Hüseyin Güngör (John Hopkins, Baltimore), Truthmaker Semantics for Indicative Conditionals
  • 12.15-14.00 Lunch Break
  • 14.00-15.00 Martín Abreu (NYU), Imperfect Communication
  • 15.15-16.15 Adam Przepiórkowski (Warsaw, Oxford), Cognitive Representations as Immediate Truthmakers
  • 16.30-18.00 [Keynote] Friederike Moltmann (CNRS Paris, NYU), Cases as Truthmakers

Tuesday, 30 July

  • 09.30-11.00 [Keynote] Mark Jago (Nottingham), Conjunctive and Disjunctive Parts
  • 11.15-12.15 Martin Pleitz (Hamburg), Making Truthmakers
  • 12.15 Lunch Break
  • 14.00-15.30 [Keynote] Daniel Rothschild (UCL), Truthmakers in Natural Language Semantics and Pragmatics
  • 15.45-16.45 Naomi Osorio-Kupferblum (Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava), Partial Aboutness
  • 17.00-18.00 Richard Booth (Columbia, NY), Underspecifying Desires

Wednesday, 31 July

  • 09.30-11.00 [Keynote] Louis deRosset (Vermont), The Theory of Menus and the Impure Logic of Ground
  • 11.15-12.15 Samuel Elgin (UC San Diego), The Semantic Foundations of Philosophical Analysis
  • 12.15-14.00 Lunch Break
  • 14.00-15.00 Federico Faroldi (Ghent) Truthmaker Semantics for Logics of Justification and Reasons: Open Problems.
  • 15.15-16.30 Kit Fine (NYU), Capstone Session


Truthmaker semantics deviates from the familiar framework of possible world semantics in two fundamental and related ways. First, the notion of a possible world is replaced by a more general notion of a state that applies to any fragment of a world. Second, a sentence is taken to be made true by a state only if every part of the state is involved in rendering the sentence true. A significant advantage of truthmaker semantics over the possible worlds approach is that it connects sentences with the worldly items that are directly relevant to their truth, thereby allowing important and intuitive hyperintensional distinctions to be drawn in a natural and formally elegant way. While the framework was originally developed as a semantics for relevant entailment by van Fraassen in the 1960s, recent developments have demonstrated its wide applicability in logic (e.g. deontic logic), metaphysics (e.g. ground), the philosophy of language and linguistics (e.g. subject matter, presupposition, counterfactuals), the philosophy of science (e.g. confirmation), and epistemology (e.g. belief revision).

Abstracts for Keynotes

Stephen Yablo, Omniscience and Aboutness
Propositions on the truthmaker approach are sets of truthmakers and falsemakers. One believes that P, presumably, if its truthmakers seem a better bet than its falsemakers. What light does this shed on the possibility of believing one of two necessarily equivalent propositions without believing the other?

Friederike Moltmann, Cases as Truthmakers
I will argue that what we refer to as ‘cases’ (‘the cases in which someone was late’, ‘the case in which it might rain’, ‘the only case in which a paper was rejected’) are truthmakers within a space of alternatives determined either by a sentence or an epistemic state. The truthmaking relation, considered a relation between a situation and a sentence or an epistemic state, thus manifests itself in the object language, in the lexical meaning of the noun ‘case’. What we refer to as ‘cases’ must sometimes be actual situations and can sometimes be merely possible situations. I will argue that these constraints follow from general lexical constraints on when nonexistent entities can be arguments as well as the compositional semantics of relevant constructions. Finally, I will argue that ‘case’ requires a version of alternative semantics (for focus, questions, disjunctions) based on truthmaking, involving both particular situations and kinds of situations.

Mark Jago, Conjunctive and Disjunctive Parts
Truthmaker semantics distinguishes two kinds of consequence between contents. There is entailment, corresponding to the relationship between disjunct and disjunction, and there is containment, corresponding to the relationship between conjunctions and their conjuncts (Fine 2017). Fine associates these with two notions of parthood: disjunctive and conjunctive. Conjunctive parthood is a very useful notion, allowing us to analyse partial content and partial truth. In this paper, I extend the notion of disjunctive parthood in terms of a structural relation of refinement, which stands to disjunctive parthood much as mereological parthood stands to conjunctive parthood. Philosophically, this relation may be modelled on the determinable-determinate relation, or on a fact-to-fact notion of grounding. I discuss its connection to two other Finean notions: vagueness (understood via precisification) and arbitrary objects. I then investigate what a logic of truthmaking with refinement might look like. I argue that (i) parthood naturally gives rise to a relevant conditional; (ii) refinement underlies a relevant notion of disjunction; and so (iii) truthmaker semantics with refinement is a natural home for relevant logic. Finally, I use this understanding of relevant semantics to investigate the status of the mingle axiom.

Daniel Rothschild, Truthmakers in Natural Language Semantics and Pragmatics
I will discuss some of the ways employing truthmakers can help us understand various phenomena in natural language semantics, as well as comparing their value to other resources, such as situations and question denotations.

Louis deRosset, The Theory of Menus and the Impure Logic of Ground
I describe a truthmaker semantics for ground, developed in collaboration with Kit Fine. The key idea for the semantics is the theory of menus (Fine 2017), according to which there are two basic kinds of menus: choices and combinations. More complex menus are generated by hierarchically organizing the basic kinds. It turns out that treating truthmakers and falsemakers as appropriately constrained menus yields exactly the system obtained by combining a logic very close to Fine’s (2012a) pure logic of ground with Fine’s (2012b) impure logic of ground.

Hamburg Summer School on Truthmaker Semantics

In the week before the conference, from 22-26 July, there will be a Summer School on the topic of Truthmaker Semantics taught by Kit Fine, Mark Jago, Friederike Moltmann, Johannes Korbmacher, and Stephan Krämer. More information is available here.


We gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by the Humboldt Foundation through Kit Fine’s Anneliese Maier Award and by the DFG through Stephan Kraemer’s Emmy Noether grant (KR 4516/2-1).


For any questions concerning the conference, please write us at hamburgrelevance (at) gmail (dot) com.