Is There a Problem About Persistence?
Johnston (Mark)
Source: Haslanger (Sally) & Kurtz (Roxanne) - Persistence : Contemporary Readings
Paper - Abstract

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  1. Johnston starts by considering "Quine (W.V.) - Identity, Ostension, and Hypostasis", commenting
    • Quine introduces the problem of identity over time in this way: 'Undergoing change as I do, how can I be said to continue to be myself? Considering that a complete replacement of my material substance takes place every few years, how can I be said to continue to be I for more than such a period at best?" Quine goes on to mention Heraclitus's allegedly parallel problem regarding rivers – how can you step in the same river twice if new waters are ever flowing upon you?
    • The real problem here is not the problem these questions pose but the problem of exhibiting and justifying some philosophical problematic which explains why we should not rest content with the most obvious and dismissive answers to these questions, e.g. 'It is just of the nature of persisting human beings and rivers that they are constituted by different matter at different times, not wholly and abruptly different matter of course, but not too different matter as between not too distant times'. Quine's questions seem answerable by such humdrum empirical observations. How can they be the occasion for high theory?
  2. He also considers "Quine (W.V.) - Worlds Away".
  3. He states his aim in the paper as
      Here I wish to argue that the Humean worry about persistence through change is bogus, that any doctrine of temporal stages tailored to provide a response to this worry is unattractive and that although we can generate distinct substantive metaphysical models of persistence through change our practice of reidentifying objects through change does not itself embody a commitment to any one of these.
  4. At the start of Section II, Johnston quotes a substantial portion of "Lewis (David) - On the Plurality of Worlds (Selections)" - most of the first paragraph, and the final 5 paragraphs, including the trilemma at the end. He treats Lewis as the contemporary exponent of the Humean view.


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  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018
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