Historic events and their truthmakers

Arguendo, I’ll grant

1.) Contingent truths need truthmakers, necessary ones do not*

2.) Historic truths are contingent.

So historical truths have truthmakers.

So far, so boring. But I also grant that:

3.) Historic events are true now 

4.) Historic events are not occurring now.

But the historic events and their truthmakers do not occur at different times. Here’s my argument:

Contingency either prescinds from time or not. If we prescind from time, historical truths are contingent since there is is no intrinsic necessity of the subject and predicate. Pace Leibniz, there is nothing in the concept of Lincoln requiring he be shot, so “Lincoln was shot (LS)” is contingent.

If we don’t prescind from time, however, then LS is a past event, and past events as past cannot be otherwise. Not even God can change the past,  and what can’t be otherwise is necessary.**

So if we prescind from time then historical truths are contingent, but are considered in a way that does not require them to occur at a different time than its truthmaker. If we do not prescind from time, however, the historical event is not contingent and therefore needs no truthmaker. Either way, historic events and their truthmakers do not occur at different times.


*There’s disagreement about whether necessary truths need truthmakers, but most seem to think they don’t so I went with that. You can’t make an argument for all assumptions.

**This necessity is an intrinsic necessity of the terms considered as past, and “not prescinding from time” means to consider the terms as past. So when we don’t prescind from time past events are logically necessary. 

I’m open to a discussion that about the difference between logical necessity and necessity by supposition, though one thing that complicates it here is that the very terms of the argument, sc. past events, are precisely the supposition under consideration.


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