In Defense of Undetached Parts
Carter (William)
Source: Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 64, 1983, 126-143
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. On occasion it happens that an object we encounter at one time is judged to be an object we previously encountered. Such judgments concern so-called 'diachronic identity' — identity across periods of time. (Of course diachronic identity is not a special kind of identity; it is identity, pure and simple, across periods of time.)
  2. Those of us who make such judgments are, on occasion, committed to saying that an object we presently encounter is the same thing as, or is numerically identical with, an object that we encountered at some earlier time.
  3. Skeptics argue that such judgments are, strictly speaking, false.
  4. Some of the arguments to which skeptics appeal are scandalously bad. (Moving from a temporal to a modal1 context, Moore's "Moore (G.E.) - External and Internal Relations" offers a classic debunking of some of the fallacies that underlie skepticism.)
  5. Still, it does not follow from the fact that bad arguments have been used to support a philosophical thesis that this thesis should be rejected. It is just possible that the badness of the arguments to which skeptics frequently appeal lulls us — lulls some of us, at any rate — into an unfounded sense of security, an unfounded conviction that the skeptic's thesis simply cannot be right.
  6. In the present paper this rather disturbing possibility is taken seriously. At the outset I should say that my own intuitions are deeply anti-skeptical. Still, intuitions can play us false.
  7. I would not be disappointed were it to turn out that the argument in behalf of skepticism that emerges in this paper is unsound. But at present I see no obviously correct response to this argument. Accordingly I believe that the skeptic's position cannot be lightly dismissed. In the end, it may turn out that it cannot be dismissed at all.

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