The Journal of Philosophy

Volume 119, Issue 7, July 2022

Øystein LinneboOrcid-ID
Pages 349-379

Generality Explained

What explains the truth of a universal generalization? Two types of explanation can be distinguished. While an ‘instance-based explanation’ proceeds via some or all instances of the generalization, a ‘generic explanation’ is independent of the instances, relying instead on completely general facts about the properties or operations involved in the generalization. This intuitive distinction is analyzed by means of a truthmaker semantics, which also sheds light on the correct logic of quantification. On the most natural version of the semantics, this analysis vindicates some claims made—without a proper defense—by Michael Dummett, Solomon Feferman, and others. Where instance-based explanations are freely available, classical logic is shown to be warranted. By contrast, intuitionistic logic (or slightly more) remains warranted regardless of what explanations are available.