Framing the Debate over Persistence
Wasserman (Ryan)
Source: Metaphysica 5.1 (2004), pp. 67-80
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. Endurantism1 is often said to be the thesis that persisting objects are, in some sense, ‘wholly present’ throughout their careers … But this is a rather poor way to characterize the doctrine of endurantism2, for it only invites the following question: what is it for an object to be wholly present at a time?
  2. As recent discussions have made clear, it is exceedingly difficult to provide an illuminating answer to this question. In fact, "Merricks (Trenton) - Persistence, Parts and Presentism" (1999) has gone so far as to argue that the endurantist3 can only provide an answer to this question at the cost of accepting presentism, the doctrine that only the present is real.
  3. This is a rather startling conclusion, for I take that many theorists would like to both accept endurantism4 and reject presentism.
  4. The goal of this paper is to provide a way of thinking about endurantism5 that does not rely on the mysterious notion of an object being ‘wholly present’ at a time. This will absolve the doctrine of endurantism6 from charges of obscurity or incoherence. It will also make clear that the endurantist7 is not committed to any controversial theses like the doctrine of presentism.
  5. The outline of the paper is as follows.
    • In sections 2-5, I consider a variety of views that one might have about the relation between temporal extension and temporal parts.
    • This discussion will lead to a precise characterization of endurantism8 (and the rival doctrine of perdurantism)9 in section 6.
    • Finally, in section 7, I consider the question of whether my discussion provides the resources required to define ‘wholly present’.

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