D. H. Mellor
To be offered a festschrift is a great honour; to have such editors and contributors makes the honour greater still; and to be given the last word makes the offer irresistible. The only drawback is that, as saying how much I agree with everyone would take too long, and be less useful to readers, than saying where and why we disagree, my replies may seem ungraciously combative. Still, since we all know how debate can advance philosophy, I hope no one will infer any disrespect from my disagreements. On the contrary, it is to the work and friendship of these colleagues, mentors and students that I owe much of the understanding and pleasure that philosophy has brought me. For that I am very grateful to them all.
In my theories of causation (1995) and of time (1998), I invoke the concept of truthmaking to resolve an ambiguity in 'giving a proposition's truth conditions'. This phrase may mean saying what makes a proposition true. But it may also just mean using a metalanguage to say when an object language sentence expressing the proposition is true; and that may tell us nothing about what makes it true.
Take time for example. Advocates of tenseless time habitually use a tenseless metalanguage to say when tensed sentences are true, while their opponents use a tensed one to say when tenseless sentences are true. Each side then attacks the other's metalanguage, one giving tenseless (e.g. indexical) accounts of 'past', 'present' and 'future', the other saying that 'earlier' really means 'less future or more past'. And on this semantic issue both might be right: each might be able to say in its own terms when any temporal sentence is true. But they cannot both be right about what makes such sentences true, i.e. about whether time itself is tensed. And both are certainly wrong if they think the semantics of time - or of any other contingent subject matter - fixes its ontology. That is why we must distinguish the two and why, because the
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Publication information: Book title: Real Metaphysics: Essays in Honour of D.H. Mellor. Contributors: Hallvard Lillehammer - Editor, Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra - Editor. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2002. Page number: 212.