The Many Persons Problem
Chihara (Charles S.)
Source: Philosophical Studies 76, 45-49, 1994
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. I doubt that many philosophers have worked through and correctly grasped the complicated definitions and proofs to be found in "Yablo (Stephen) - Identity, Essence, and Indiscernibility". Fortunately, the points I wish to make here regarding this paper do not require a thorough understanding of these definitions and proofs.
  2. Let us begin with the often discussed problem of the statue1 and the lump of clay. I shall suppose, with "Gibbard (Allan) - Contingent Identity", that a statue2 (henceforth called 'Goliath') has been formed from a particular lump of clay (which is named 'Lump1'). Furthermore, I shall assume that the sculptor is able to bring it about that both the statue3 and the lump of clay come into existence at the same time - say, at t - and also that these objects will go out of existence at the same time.
  3. Goliath can be said to be made out of Lump1. But are they one and the same thing? One compelling reason for maintaining that they are not is to be found in the fact that Goliath seems to have modal4 properties that Lump1 does not. For example, Goliath can be destroyed by flattening it out into the shape of a pancake, but Lump1 cannot be so destroyed.
  4. Yablo is quite willing to accept the consequences of adopting this "two-thing" position regarding the above philosophical puzzle. Once one takes the position that Goliath and Lump1 are distinct things, one seems driven to postulate an infinity of distinct entities occupying exactly the same portion of space-time. For what underlies the doctrine that Goliath and Lump1 are distinct entities is the hypothesis that Goliath has certain essential properties that Lump1 does not. If so, then surely we can distinguish another entity, exactly like Goliath except for the fact that this entity has some additional essential property, say the property of coming into existence at t or perhaps of being observed at a certain place.

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