- For a summary of, and my thoughts on, this Paper, Click here for Note.
- I give below the Conclusion, which is mostly unintelligible to the non-initiate without a careful reading of the full text, which is available on-line: see Kurtz: Introduction to Persistence: What’s the Problem?.
Author’s Conclusion (Full Text)
- Issues about the metaphysics of time and tensing crosscut approaches to persistence. However, there are concerns about temporary intrinsics1 that, if legitimate, rule out endurantism2. Anti-endurantists3 have a case against endurantism4 if we accept something as strong as ATEMPORAL INSTANTIATION. That thesis is supported by Lewisian intuitions and the Bradley Regress problem. With respect to the intuitions, it is not clear that referring to times when making a claim about oneself or an object makes that claim any less about me or that object — that is, talking about times does not introduce other things in the way an ordinary relation does. With respect to the Bradley Regress, there are kinds of mediated property instantiation that are clear alternatives to the kind of relational accounts of instantiation that generate the regress. Thus the justification for ATEMPORAL INSTANTIATION proves inadequate to serve as part of a compelling argument against endurantism5. We are thus left with three accounts of persistence, each of which appears to be coherent.
- After considering concerns prominent in the persistence literature, we see again that the real problem of persistence remains one of balancing trade-offs. To explain how objects persist by (in some sense) having incompatible properties at different times, we must revise and/or forfeit some of our basic intuitions and theoretical commitments regarding change, nonmomentary objects, and temporary intrinsics6.
- Perdurantism, exdurantism7, and endurantism8 succeed in this project. Each approach explains the phenomenon of persistence without collapsing into contradiction countenancing, change nihilism9, or persistence nihilism10. However, each sacrifices something in terms of its view of change, persistence, or predication. Within perdurantist, exdurantist11, and endurantist12 frameworks, the costs and benefits in terms of intuitiveness, theoretical attractiveness, and elegance of a particular view will vary significantly. Each framework has space for views that take different stands on questions about the metaphysics of time, the logical structure of propositions, and temporary intrinsics13.
Copiously annotated printout filed in "Various - Papers on Identity Boxes: Vol 08 (I-K)".
Write-up14 (as at 06/04/2019 23:47:02): Kurtz - Persistence (Introduction)
This note is a review of "Kurtz (Roxanne) - Introduction to Persistence: What’s the Problem?".
Some ordinary objects persist through change. At least, that is the thesis shared by the editors of this volume and the included authors. At stake in the debate among these authors, then, is not whether objects persist through change but rather how they do so. To give some context to this debate, in this introduction I motivate the real metaphysical problem of how objects persist through change, consider three broad approaches to explaining persistence, and briefly explore the bearing of some key metaphysical issues on the tenability of various accounts of persistence.
Section Headings / Topics
- The Initial Tension Concerning Persistence
- Three Non-Negotiable Theses
- Ease the Tension, Find the Problem
- Metaphysics of Temporal Parts and Persistence
- Metaphysics of Enduring Things
- The Real Problem of Persistence
- Three Negotiable Theses
- Atemporal Instantiation
- Argument to contradiction
- Clarifying the Debate about the Real Problem of Persistence
- Persistence and the Metaphysics of Time
- Persistence and Tensed Propositions
- Persistence and Temporary Intrinsics
- The motivating introductory section is, it seems, indebted to "Haslanger (Sally) - Persistence Through Time".
- The Introduction15 as a whole locates the various papers in the Book ("Haslanger (Sally) & Kurtz (Roxanne), Eds. - Persistence : Contemporary Readings") within the context of the debate, but the introduction is not at all a slavish summary of these many chapters, as is the case with many introductory surveys.
- The Initial Tension Concerning Persistence (p.1)
- There are three “Non-Negotiable Theses”:-
- CONSISTENCY16: the same thing cannot have incompatible properties. Follows either from the law of non-contradiction or from Leibniz’s Law17.
- CHANGE: Change involves incompatible properties.
- PERSISTENCE: Objects persist18 through change.
- These three theses, agreed on by all authors in the book, are in tension. They are “non-negotiable” because giving up any one of them involves too high a metaphysical cost. Basically, consistency is more certain than the other two, and we have very strong intuitions that things really do change, and persist through (at least some) changes. Consequently, we need an account of persistence that resolves the tension. Kurtz does provide references to those who might question these basic assumptions, but they are not really worth pursuing19:-
- Abandoning CONSISTENCY: "Baxter (Donald L.M.) - Loose Identity and Becoming Something Else".
- Abandoning CHANGE: "Mortensen (Chris) - Change and Inconsistency".
- Abandoning PERSISTENCE: "Seibt (Johanna) - Process Philosophy".
- Finally, the scope of the discussion is restricted in two further ways:-
- To “ordinary everyday objects” (which include “persons”). We can ask whether gerrymandered objects exist and persist, but this has no significant bearing on the main question.
- To what it is for ordinary objects to persist “at all”, not to arbitrate on particular cases where persistence is doubtful.
- Ease the Tension, Find the Problem (p. 3)
- There are three approaches that maintain the three non-negotiable theses, namely:-
- Exdurantism21, and
- Perdurantism and Exdurantism share a metaphysics of temporal parts, which Endurantism claims ordinary things lack. Each maintains the tension between the three non-negotiable theses by sacrificing at least one “intuitively and philosophically appealing” metaphysical claim on persistence. Kurtz sees this as the “real problem of persistence”.
- Kurtz now introduces four23 terms for future use:-
- Numerical Identity: the relation every object bears to itself solely in virtue of being a single object.
- SURVIVAL: an object survives if and only if it is numerically identical to something that exists at a different time.
- ALTERATION: an object alters if and only if it is numerically identical to objects that instantiate different24 properties at different times.
- Just Having (a property): an object just has a property if and only if no extrinsic facts are relevant to the truth of the proposition that the object has that property.
- All involved in these arguments (in this book) accept the application of these terms, at least some of the time. Some things survive and alter. Just Having a property is the only slightly tricky concept, and "Lewis (David) - Rearrangement of Particles: Reply to Lowe" is invoked25, which refers to non-relational changes (the example is of changing your shape by sitting, etc.).
- Kurtz’s claim is that to maintain the consistency of the three non-negotiable theses, we must sacrifice some piece of this everyday understanding of how persistence involves survival, alteration, or the just having of properties.
- Metaphysics of Temporal Parts and Persistence (p. 5)
- Ordinary objects are constituted by parts26, but what sort? The issue is whether or not ordinary things have temporal parts, so Kurtz ignores other possibilities, such as Spatial parts. All grant these, but maybe there are also27:-
- Modal parts,
- Dependent parts,
- Abstract parts,
- Logical parts, etc.
- Kurtz introduces the acronym MTP28 for the Metaphysics of Temporal Parts - that objects are said to have. These exist only instantaneously, and are otherwise known as Stages or Time-Slices. A duck – according to MTP – is wholly29 or partly constituted by temporal parts.
- There are two forms of MTP – Perdurantism and Exdurantism – and (says Kurtz) their motivation30 – and that of MTP itself – comes from how well either of these accounts for persistence.
- The chapters in this volume that argue for or against MTP are:-
- Additionally, there is "Hawley (Katherine) - Temporal Parts" (from Stanford).
- Perdurantism (p. 5)
- For the perdurantist, temporal change is analogous to spatial change. Just as different spatial parts of an object can have incompatible properties, so can different temporal parts of a temporally-extended object.
- Perdurantists take ordinary objects to be space-time worms, which are only partially present at a particular moment.
- This is important, so I’ll quote in full: “… an object persists by perduring, and perdures by surviving change. An object survives because, being a fusion of momentary stages, it exists at different times. It changes because some of its stages just have incompatible properties”.
- The papers in this book dealing with Perdurance are:-
- Perdurantism does satisfy the three non-negotiable theses of CONSISTENCY, CHANGE and PERSISTENCE; but, Kurtz claims, it does so at a metaphysical cost.
- Firstly, CHANGE is no longer alteration. Properties don’t belong to a perduring object as a whole but only to its stages. So, the perduring object is not numerically identical to an object that possesses incompatible properties at different times. We are referred to chapter "Haslanger (Sally) - Persistence, Change, and Explanation".
- There’s also a tension between perdurantism and just having the incompatible properties required for CHANGE. The incompatible properties are had through the object’s relationships31 to its constituent temporal parts.
- Exdurantism (p. 7)
- Exdurantism is otherwise known as Stage Theory and Kurtz describes it as analogous to identity32 between possible worlds. Just as an object might have had incompatible properties – and this is cashed out as a counterpart in a possible world having these properties – so a temporal counterpart stage of the object has them. The objects with incompatible properties are, in both cases, non-identical counterparts of one another. So, the exdurantist then contends that change over time is nothing more than an object and its temporal counterpart having incompatible properties and existing at different moments in the actual world. .
- Exdurantists have it that an object is numerically identical to a single stage, and is wholly present at the moment it exists. In contrast to Perdurance, according to Exdurantists, objects persist when they exdure, and exdure by changing over time. An object changes over time, then, when it and a counterpart stage just have incompatible properties. Consequently, an exduring object does not SURVIVE change.
- In this volume, exdurance is treated in:-
- Acording to Exdurance, an object undergoes CHANGE when it and a counterpart “just have” incompatible properties. It PERSISTs when it changes over time by standing in the counterpart relation33 to a stage from a different time. As no single thing has incompatible properties (different stages are different objects), Exdurantism satisfies CONSISTENCY.
- Exdurantism has the advantage over Perdurantism in that it’s the object itself that “just has” its properties, rather than a (temporal) part of the object.
- However, just like Perdurantism, Exdurantism rules out CHANGE as commonly understood. In both cases, it’s just different stages that have the incompatible property, not one and the same whole object.
- But, Exdurantism does much worse over SURVIVAL, in that an exduring object doesn’t survive, as the different stages are different objects. At best, an exduring object “continues” in some way, but the momentary stages are no more identical than are links in a chain.
- Kurtz acknowledges that an exdurantist can argue that the above criticism assumes a traditional understanding of existence that is disputed by exdurantism. To my mind it seems that the continuant is the counterpart relation that the stages bear to one another. Kurtz claims that (an exdurantist can argue that) the (object) survives the change because it is numerically identical to itself at a past time at which it (derivatively) existed .
- Kurtz claims that this threatens the coherency of the very idea of existence. It posits the existence of ordinary objects at times in the world during which they could not have causal powers and could not overlap with any material object. They would exist in the world but not be present (unless also derivatively so). To my mind, it’s rather the concept of identity that’s threatened. How can distinct things (the stages) be identical34 to one another? Kurtz, however, seems to suppose that what the exdurantist is arguing is that the present stage exists35 (in some way) in the past, though as a ghost alongside the extinct incompatible stage. Anyway, Kurtz leaves it up to the exdurantist to defend their account of existence, and just leaves it as a prima facie objection to exdurantism that they cannot – even with a modified form of existence – have it that objects SURVIVE across time.
- Metaphysics of Enduring Things (p. 9)
- According to MET, at least some36 objects endure – namely, that a numerically identical object is wholly present at different times.
- For both MTP and MET, objects may have temporal parts. So, the existence of stages or a space-time worm37 is not denied by MET.
- Neither a space-time worm nor a stage is an enduring thing, as neither is wholly present at different times. Nevertheless, says Kurtz38, MET does not entail the claim that ordinary objects lack temporal parts.
- Endurantism (p. 10)
- Endurantists claim that ordinary objects persist by enduring, that is, that identity over time is strict identity between objects wholly present at different times. Change is the holding of incompatible properties by objects identical over time. So far seems to be common-sense39.
- To avoid the CONTRADICTION of an object having incompatible properties, endurantists adopt temporally mediated property instantiation, whereby temporal facts (whether of time or tense) external to the object mediate the instantiation of incompatible properties without an appeal to temporal parts. Thus, an ordinary object PERSISTs through CHANGE and both ALTERs and SURVIVEs. What has to be given up is the “just having” of properties. The question seems to be how important the having of properties only mediated by internal facts is.
- There are various implementations of endurantism. Those in this book are40:-
- Kurtz thinks that the introduction of time or tense into property instantiation creates four potential problems41:-
- She thinks it irrelevant what the time is to whether an object has an intrinsic property or not.
- Issues like Bradley’s Regress (to be discussed under the head of Temporary Intrinsics) threaten our understanding of how a property can be predicated of an object at all.
- Indexing properties to times makes them seem like different42 properties, and so gets rid of the prima facie problem of inconsistent properties too easily.
- Given the definition of CHANGE, then if the properties aren’t incompatible, why do we have change at all?
- The Real Problem of Persistence (p. 12)
- The three Negotiable Theses are:-
- ALTERATION: Any object that changes is the proper subject of the incompatible properties involved in the change.
- SURVIVAL: If an object persists through change, then the object existing before the change is numerically identical to the one existing after the change.
- ATEMPORAL INSTANTIATION: If an object is the proper subject of a property, then
- the object has that property, and
- facts about time and tense are irrelevant to the truth of the proposition that the object has that property.
- These three Negotiable Theses constrain the corresponding Non-negotiable Theses and, Kurtz claims, if we want to solve the real problem of persistence we will have to deny, substantially revise, or significantly reinterpret our ordinary understanding of one of these negotiable theses. So:-
- ALTERATION constrains CHANGE: while Endurantism has no prima facie problem, for the other two there is tension. Exdurantism denies that it is the same object that is the bearer of the incompatible properties, while Perdurantism denies that it is the whole43 object that does so.
- SURVIVAL constrains PERSISTENCE: If we insist that survival is necessary for persistence, then Exduring objects do not persist44.
- ATEMPORAL INSTANTIATION constrains CONSISTENCY: if we are not allowed to add any temporal qualification to the possession of a property, then the possession of inconsistent properties by the same object would seem to violate CONSISTENCY. Kurtz lists the outlawed temporal methodologies as:-
Perdurantists and Exdurantists treat distinct stages at the proper subjects of the incompatible properties, so have no trouble with ATEMPORAL INSTANTIATION. Not so for endurantists, and Kurtz notes that when they modify this negotiable thesis, they need to watch out that they don’t thereby trespass on ALTERATION, thereby incurring further metaphysical costs.
- Time-indexing: x is F-at-t
- Time-relative predicates: x-is-at-t F
- Relations with times as arguments: x is F at t
- Adverbial accounts: x is F t-ly
- Temporal context-sensitivity: Obtains at t (x is F)
- Tense: x was F
- Whatever the problems with individual thesis-pairs for the various philosophies of persistence, Kurtz notes a prima facie argument45 to contradiction for any conceivable theory:-
- Assumptions from the Non-negotiable Theses
- x persists through change (PERSISTENCE)
- x’s changing involves Fx and not-Fx (CHANGE)
- It is not the case that Fx and not-Fx (CONSISTENCY)
- Steps Drawing on the Negotiable Theses
- The x of which Fx is numerically identical to the x of which not-Fx (SURVIVAL and 1)
- x is the proper subject of both F and not-F (ALTERATION, 2 and 4)
- Fx and not-Fx (ATEMPORAL INSTANTIATION and 5)
- Since 3 and 6 cannot both be true.
- So, one or more of the Non-negotiable Theses must be false46, and the real problem of persistence is finding a philosophically elegant way through this maze that does least violence to our basic intuitions.
- Clarifying the Debate about the Real Problem of Persistence (p. 15)
- Kurtz claims that two issues often thought to side with one or other of the three approaches to persistence in fact cross-cut them. Two of the most important such issues are:-
- The metaphysics of time, and
- The truth-makers of tensed propositions.
- These cross-cutting issues can be distracting, but an issue that helps decide between the approaches is:-
- The role of temporary intrinsics47 in persistence.
- Persistence and the Metaphysics of Time (p. 15)
- The two major theories of time are
- Presentism: Only the present, and objects presently existing, exist.
- Eternalism: All times, and the objects existing at all times – past, present and future – exist.
- Consequently, only Eternalists can quantify over all times and the objects existing at them.
- The following theses are frequently presupposed:-
- MTP ETERNALISM: Any view of persistence incorporating MTP entails48 Eternalism.
- MET PRESENTISM: Any view of persistence incorporating MET entails49 Presentism.
- If this were so,
- Decisive arguments for Presentism would rule out Exdurantism and Perdurantism, and
- Decisive arguments for Eternalism would rule out Endurantism
- But, Kurtz claims that we should accept neither thesis, as the issue of temporal metaphysics cross-cuts that of MTP.
- Firstly, while MTP standardly presupposes Eternalism, it need not do so.
- Superficially, all the parts of the perdurantist’s space-time worm need to exist for the object to exist.
- Also, to explain change, the Exdurantist needs to refer to counterpart stages at times other than the present.
- So, it seems that either variant of MTP needs to quantify over times.
- But, Kurtz says, there are ways round these problems: there are prior questions about existence50 – what it is for an object to exist or subsist – that first need to be answered, because there are coherent, if maybe unattractive, resources for MTP. For instance, …
- A perdurantist could hold that a space-time worm exists only in the present, but subsists51 at other times.
- The Exdurantist can accept that the counterparts of the existing present stage merely subsist, because they have existed or will exist, and exist now as “abstract representations52”.
- Secondly, Endurantism doesn’t entail Presentism
- The reason we might think so is because we seem to violate CONSISTENCY if the Enduring object simply instantiates contradictory properties (Fx and not-Fx).
- But mediated property instantiation offers a way out for the Endurantist – this is the corresponding “prior question” in case – whether to adopt property instantiation mediated by time or tense (eg. Fx-at-t1 and not-Fx-at-t2; or “has” versus “had” inconsistent properties). Only if all forms of mediated property instantiation are unacceptable must an Endurantist be a Presentist; the section on Temporary Intrinsics gives reasons why this may be so.
- Note that all three approaches to persistence use time or tense in some53 way to avoid paradox.
- Chapters covering this topic are:-
- There is also the growing block universe view, whereby only past and present times exist, not future54 ones. This doesn’t change matters, as MTP can still rely on subsistence for future times, and MET can still rely on mediated property instantiation.
- Persistence and Tensed Propositions (p. 18)
- There’s a question about how propositions about the past or future have truth values. In particular, how do we take the “is” of predication? There are two obvious alternatives:-
- Serious Tensing: “is” is irreducibly tensed, and is cover for “was”, “is now” or “will be”. Seriously tensed propositions can change in truth-value over time, and serious tensers try to represent time in a way that captures change happening.
- Surface Tensing: “is” is timeless. All propositions are eternally true or false, and tense is eliminable – any such tense is to be replaced by a time (x is F at t1).
- Surface tensers try to eliminate complications in tense logic55 and take seriously McTaggart’s claim that tensing leads to contradiction56.
- Lewis thinks that this means we should reject presentism, and hence endurantism. In this book, see:-
- However, Kurtz thinks this muddles together disagreements about tense with those about time:-
- An eternalist may – despite thinking that all times exist – hold that it is with reference to the present that the truth-value of propositions should be evaluated. This requires serious tensing – “Aristotle was wise”.
- But, equally, an eternalist may hold that the present is not a privileged time. This requires surface tensing, but being more explicit – so, “Aristotle is wise in ancient Greece57”.
- So, there’s no implication from one’s position on tensing to a metaphysics of time.
- Kurtz claims that both surface and serious tensing are consistent with all three approaches to persistence, and that problems arise only when extra metaphysical presuppositions about existence and predication are added. For justification:-
- Surface Tensers: think that tense is and should be eliminable. Their options are …
- Adopt MTP, or
- Adopt MET combined with property-mediation that excludes tense, eg58.
→ Time-indexed properties
→ Relations with times as arguments
→ Adverbial accounts
→ Temporal context sensitivity
- Whatever option is adopted, time is built in:-
→ To the object itself in MTP (“temporalized objects”)
→ To the property, instantiation being time-mediated.
- While Eternalism is consistent with all the options, Presentism would need to be made consistent by the use of Ersatz59 times.
- See "Mellor (D.H.) - Selections from 'Real Time'".
- Serious Tensers:
- Already appeal to the mediation of property-instantiation by tense, so temporal facts are relevant to the having of properties.
- Can without inconsistency appeal to temporalized objects, so MTP is OK.
- Eternalism is consistent with the above strategies, but
- Presentism has to be made consistent by positing “less than fully existing entities”, including60:-
→ Subsisting stages
→ Abstract representations
→ Objects “having” but not “instantiating” a property.
- The bottom line of all this is that there are 12 possible combinations of independent views! Three views of persistence, two of time, and two of tense. All can co-exist, though some combinations sit more comfortably together than others. Some variants of the three views on persistence may be eliminated or made less appealing, but no arguments for time or tense argue conclusively against them.
- Persistence and Temporary Intrinsics (p. 20)
- Kurtz thinks that, unlike arguments about time and tense, which cross-cut the approaches to persistence, the matter of temporary intrinsic properties may be decisive.
- We’re reminded of what intrinsic properties are – properties an object has simply in virtue of being itself – eg. straight rather than bent. A temporary intrinsic properties is only had temporarily.
- Real61 change occurs when an object has incompatible temporary intrinsic properties at different times, and this needs to be explained by an adequate account of persistence, which are constant relational changes.
- Many philosophers take seriously the “just having” of temporary intrinsic properties which motivated ATEMPORAL INSTANTIATION, the last of the “negotiable theses”.
- Kurtz gives examples of properties had (she says62) by an object irrespective of its relations to the wider world.
- If predication “just is” a primitive non-relational bond between an object and its intrinsic properties, then Endurantism is false, as temporal qualification is ruled out.
- It seems we mustn’t take the question of “just having” of properties lightly, as it is supported:-
- By the “Lewisian Intuitions” previously rehearsed63, and
- By the Bradley Regress.
- The Bradley Regress: this is generated by the following two claims:-
The example given is Near (Duck, Acorn); Instantiation (Nearness, Near (Duck, Acorn)); “and64 so on”.
- Some objects stand in relation to one another
- A relation stands in a relation to the objects that instantiate it.
- Kurtz accepts the Bradley Regress as a worry, maybe for the sake of the argument, and then points out that it causes no problems for those accounts of temporary intrinsics that have predication as a primitive non-relational bond between an object and a property. But, problems do occur if predication involves relations between objects, properties and times, and also for mediated accounts of property instantiation that reduce to relational accounts.
- Atemporal Instantiation consequently eliminates Endurantism, because the endurantist’s account of having a property involves temporalizing the having of it. Consequently, no enduring object is the proper subject of a property. But, ALTERATION requires proper subjects, so enduring objects cannot alter, and consequently cannot change. Finally, an object that cannot change, but is subject to change, cannot SURVIVE. This would demolish Endurantism as an account of persistence.
- So, do we need to accept ATEMPORAL INSTANTATION without modification? Apparently not, because the Bradley Regress only raises its head if mediated instantiation must reduce to relational instantiation. But, says Kurtz, this isn’t so.
- She considers three ways of instantiating temporary intrinsic properties:-
- Monadic property instantiation: this is the standard account that is conducive to MTP. We have atemporal “just having”. But there are also …
- Nonmonadic property instantiation
- Monadic type instantiation
- Nonmonadic property instantiation: gives up on “just having” and introduces the relation of objects to times – the book is “open at t” and not open simpliciter.
- If the relation is an ordinary one, Bradley’s Regress is (taken to be) fatal, but maybe it’s possible to argue that a relation involving time is special in some way?
- Other options:-
- Tensed predicate relations (eg. “the book was open”)
- Time-dependent properties (eg. “the book is open-at-t”)
- Adverbial accounts (eg. “the book is open t-ly”)
- Each of these bypass the regress, unless they reduce to a relational account and (Kurtz claims) there’s no obvious incoherence in a form of Endurantism that modifies clause (ii) of ATEMPORAL INSTANTIATION in one of these ways. But, these strategies raise other problems …
- They don’t allow for the “just having” of properties, as further facts about time or tense are introduced65.
- How do we devise a workable tense-logic (for option 1 above)?
- These options make change difficult to understand. The incompatibility66 in the properties has gone.
- Monadic type instantiation: On this account, a temporary intrinsic property is instantiated just in case a token context of some type67 obtains “at a time”.
- Conclusion (p. 24)
- The metaphysics of time and tense cross-cuts that of persistence, though there are residual issues related to Temporary Intrinsics that trouble Endurantism.
- Kurtz thinks that introducing time or tense does not make property-claims any less about the object and its property in the way that introducing other relations would. This may counter the “Lewisian Intuitions”.
- We can bypass the Bradley Regress by the use of mediated property instantiation.
- Hence, the justification68 for ATEMPORAL INSTANTIATION is inadequate to refute Endurantism.
- So, we have three viable accounts of persistence, all of which accept the three non-negotiable theses, but each have to water down at least one of the three negotiable theses.
- We’re just left with a choice based on a cost/benefit analysis involving “intuitiveness, theoretical attractiveness, and elegance”.
- Each of the three frameworks can accommodate different views on
- the metaphysics of time,
- the logical structure of propositions, and
- temporary intrinsics.
Footnote 15: Ie. this paper.
- This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (06/04/2019 23:47:02).
- Link to Latest Write-Up Note.
- These definitions are capitalised (as in the paper) because these are henceforth technical terms in Kurtz’s paper.
- A footnote refers to Aristotle, who mentions “at the same time” – obviously key to the solution to the problem.
- Persistence: This term isn’t really defined.
- It seems not to be the same as “surviving”, as this term – SURVIVAL – is later introduced as a negotiable thesis.
- It may be important to bear this distinction in mind when considering Parfit’s claim that “Identity is not what matters in survival”.
- See "Parfit (Derek) - Why Our Identity is Not What Matters", and Thesis: What matters.
- Actually, this may be premature: the problem of temporary intrinsics may demand that these alternatives be taken seriously.
Footnote 24: Not just different – “incompatible”.
- Terms 2-4 appear later as the three “negotiable theses”, though “just having” appears in a restricted form as “Atemporal Instantiation”. Consequently, I’ve capitalised the appropriate two.
Footnote 26: Footnote 27: Footnote 28:
- Kurtz’s reference is “Lewis 1999, 187”.
- In "Haslanger (Sally) & Kurtz (Roxanne), Eds. - Persistence : Contemporary Readings", "Kurtz (Roxanne) - Introduction to Persistence: What’s the Problem?" has a note at the beginning of the Chapter Notes – For further reading, see the bibliography on the web associated with this book: … followed by two URLs. Unfortunately, the second reference cannot be resolved, and the first resolves to MIT Press: Persistence - Contemporary Readings. This reference is OK, but there is no reading list, only the index.
- However, the Stanford bibliography of Lewis’s works (Stanford: David Lewis - Bibliography) came to the rescue, when followed up by a check of my copy of "Lewis (David) - Papers in Metaphysics and Epistemology".
- So, I think I’ve got the right reference!
- The contrasting acronym is MET for Metaphysics of Enduring Things.
- It seems odd to think of a duck as being wholly constituted by a single temporal part, but this just is the exdurantist claim, as we will see.
- I had thought the motivation came from the need to explain conundrums like Fission, but it seems there are philosophical difficulties with MET (see the later discussion of Temporary Intrinsics).
- So, are “had”, but not “just had”. However, taking the motivating analogy seriously – that of spatial change – an object that has red bits and green bits – aren’t these “just had” even though they are compatible only in relation to the parts of the object?
- “Identity” is, strictly speaking, the wrong term, if the counterparts are non-identical.
- So, … is this Kurtz’s error or mine? Check!
- Just how is this “Counterpart Relation” cashed out?
- But there’s a standard problem of modal trans-world identity, so maybe this problem is subsumed in that.
- We will read later about further disputes about “subsistence” and between Presentists and Eternalists about time.
- This sounds like an existence-claim, but we let it pass.
- Though the worm is not an “ordinary thing”, but (presumably) a collection of momentary stages, which are themselves not ordinary things.
Footnote 39: Footnote 40:
- This sounds wrong as far as ordinary objects are concerned – I need to check what the endurantists say on this.
- Presumably, these chapters present, but don’t necessarily support, endurantism.
- Presumably for MET only. I’m not hugely convinced by these – and Kurtz admits she’s only gestured at them to get them on the table.
- And, if they are different properties it (to my mind) obscures what makes Red-at-T1 and Red-at-T2 both instances of Red.
- However, maybe adopt “Temporal context-sensitivity: Obtains at t (x is F)”
- This is a bit awkward to state.
- Take a sweater that has one sleeve dyed red at one time and green at another. Clearly, on any view, the object changes, but only part of it has the property of being red or green.
- But at least for Endurantism, the whole sweater has the property of having a red sleeve, at one time, and a green sleeve, at another.
- This is not the case for Perdurantism, as only part of the object has the property “having a red sleeve”.
- And for Exdurantism, the different stages are not even the same object.
- As previously noted, I had hitherto equated survival with persistence – maybe because I’d not come across Exdurantism, for which Survival is a problem.
- How many philosophers draw the distinction, or are even aware of it?
- See Derek Parfit, of course.
- Kurtz’s schema involves shutting an open book.
- It is important to take this argument seriously, and determine what’s wrong with it (if there is anything) or which of its premises is most likely false.
- My prime suspect is ATEMPORAL INSTANTIATION – why should anyone dig their heels in over this (or the “just having” properties principle)?
- In (5), the “is” appears to be ambiguous – as it would be in Fx, translated as “the book is open” – sometimes it would seem to have a present-tense connotation, and sometimes an atemporal one. This is taken up under the head of “Persistence and Tensed Propositions” on p. 18.
- See later (p. 20) for what temporary intrinsics are, if you don’t know (as I didn’t).
- This seems – superficially – to be obviously the case, in that – for Perdurantism, at least – the whole spacetime worm can only exist if its temporal parts do.
- But, it seems that there’s no inconsistency between Presentism and MTP, and I can see this for Exdurantism, where the only need is for the present stage to exist.
- I can’t see any immediate need to believe this, especially as it was stated earlier that an Endurantist can accept the existence of temporal parts (they just aren’t parts of “ordinary objects”), though maybe only the present stage was intended? However, there’s an argument coming up ...
- Subsistance has had a bit of a bad press since Russell’s critique of Meinong in "Russell (Bertrand) - On Denoting". But, how can a space-time worm exist (in the present) when its temporal parts merely subsist?
- I’m not sure what this means, but there’s a footnote to refer us to the debate between modal realists – like Lewis – and the majority of irrealists.
- Certainly, if modal counterpart theory is the correct analogy for Exdurantism, irrealism with respect to counterpart stages would seem to be “normal”.
Footnote 54: Footnote 55:
- Well, of course they do – and why not – given that we’re talking about change over time!
Footnote 56: Footnote 57:
- I don’t know what these “complications” are – Kurtz says they are “caused by questions about how inference works when predication comes in more than one form”, but provides no further enlightenment.
- Presumably this is saying something about Aristotle rather than about us (or our relation to Aristotle) – who may or may consider Aristotle to have been wise (presumably his contemporaries may or may not have considered him wise, so any evaluational term is crypto-relational). I’m not sure whether this has any relevance to the question of tensing.
Footnote 59: Footnote 60:
- Are there others? Also, get a handle on precisely what these all mean!
Footnote 61: Footnote 62: I’m somewhat dubious about this – though I’m not sure whether it matters much. Examples:-
- Again, are there other strategies, and what, precisely, do these strategies involve?
Footnote 63: Where are the rehearsals?
- Acorns “just are” green: but only when viewed in the right light – there seems to be no recognition of Secondary Qualities in this discussion, and colours – the standard example of such, are favourite examples of properties. See, for example, the dreaded
→ "McDowell (John) - Values and Secondary Qualities", or maybe (there are lots of others)
→ "Armstrong (David) - The Secondary Qualities".
- Ducks “just can” fly: but only in air, in an appropriate gravitational field.
- Candles “just are” straight: but (maybe) only in flat spacetime, when not viewed in a distorting mirror (not so sure about this one ..)
- I wondered whether there might be arguments against the existence of intrinsic properties along the lines of “no private language”. Some properties, like “is tall” are crypto-relational: tall with respect to others who are shorter.
- This sounds like Plato’s Third Man argument against the existence of properties as Forms (Universals) and see BA Essay: Plato’s Third Man.
- Also, it’s not completely obvious (to me) how the “vicious regress” is fleshed out. Presumably we’re supposed to know all about the Bradley Regress already?
- I had nothing on this, except "Lewis (David) - Tensing the Copula". Doing a trawl of JSTOR on “Bradley(’s) Regress” resulted in 49 articles, including the Lewis. As Lewis’s paper is in this Collection, I’ll leave considering this topic until I get there.
- Kurtz adds “This worry has force equal to that of the Lewisian style intuitions.”
- What are these intuitions, and what’s the argument for this claim?
- I would add that we seem to have lost the connection between the property-instances. If red-at-t1 and red-at-t2 are different properties, what makes them both instances of red?
- I was somewhat weary at the end of this discussion, and don’t understand just what’s being claimed here.
- I’ll see if I’m any clearer after reading what Forbes has to say.
- Is this saying that “Lewisian Intuitions” and the Bradley Regress are the motivators for ATEMPORAL INSTANTIATION?
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2019
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)