All the World's a Stage
Sider (Ted)
Source: Haslanger (Sally) & Kurtz (Roxanne) - Persistence : Contemporary Readings
Paper - Abstract

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Philosophers Index Abstract

    Most believers in temporal parts identify persons and other continuants with aggregates of temporal parts – "space time worms". I identify them instead with the instantaneous temporal parts themselves. Fortified with a temporal version of counterpart theory, this stage theory of persistence over time is the account best suited to solve the philosopher's repertoire of puzzles of identity over time. The stage theorist can agree that identity and psychological continuity are both what matters in survival, that a statue is identical to the lump of matter from which it is made, and so on.

Author’s Introduction
  1. Some philosophers believe that everyday objects are 4-dimensional spacetime worms, that a person (for example) persists through time by having temporal parts, or stages, at each moment of her existence. None of these stages is identical to the person herself; rather, she is the aggregate of all her temporal parts. Others accept “three dimensionalism”, rejecting stages in favor of the notion that persons “endure”, or are “wholly present” throughout their lives. I aim to defend an apparently radical third view: not only do I accept person stages; I claim that we are stages. Likewise for other objects of our everyday ontology: statues are statue-stages, coins are coin-stages, etc.
  2. At one level, I accept the ontology of the worm view. I believe in spacetime worms, since I believe in temporal parts and aggregates of things I believe in. I simply don’t think spacetime worms are what we typically call persons, name with proper names, quantify over, etc. The metaphysical view shared by this “stage view” and the worm view may be called “four dimensionalism”, and may be stated roughly as the doctrine that temporally extended things divide into temporal parts.
  3. In this paper I hope to provide what might be called “philosopher’s reasons” to believe the stage view, by arguing that it resolves various puzzles about identity over time better than its rivals. After replying to objections, I conclude that a strong case exists for accepting the stage view. At the very least, I hope to show that the stage view deserves more careful consideration that it usually is given.

  1. See Web Link.
  2. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 74: 433-453;
  3. Included in "Look (Brandon C.) - The Metaphysics of Material Beings: Constitution, Persistence, and Identity";
  4. Photocopy filed in "Various - Papers on Identity Boxes: Vol 16 (S1: Sa-Sl)".

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