Time Travel, Coinciding Objects and Persistence
Gilmore (Cody)
Source: Zimmerman (Dean), Ed. - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics: Volume 3
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction1

  1. Endurantism2, roughly stated, is the view that material objects lack temporal extent and persist through time by “enduring” – that is, by being wholly present at each moment of their careers. Perdurantism3 is the opposing view that material objects persist by “perduring” – that is, by being temporally extended and having different temporal parts located at different times. In this paper I offer an argument against perdurantism4, one based largely on premises that have been used in arguments against endurantism5. Perdurantists6 can resist the argument, but not, I think, without weakening at least one of the relevant anti-endurantist7 arguments. In one way or another, then, this chapter is meant to alter the overall debate between endurantists8 and perdurantists9 to the benefit of the former.
  2. The heart of the chapter is the presentation of a new type of coincidence puzzle. A coincidence puzzle is an apparent counter-example to the following, widely accepted anti-coincidence principle:
      It is impossible for numerically distinct material objects to coincide - that is, to be (i) wholly present in exactly the same location and (ii) composed, at some level of decomposition, of all the same parts, or all the same matter at the given location
    To solve such a puzzle, as I shall use the term, is to show that the case in question does not in fact constitute a genuine counter-example to the principle.
  3. Existing coincidence puzzles can be divided into two types, corresponding to the manner in which they bear upon the endurantism10 versus perdurantism11 debate. Puzzles of the first type (involving temporary spatial co-location) can be solved simply by abandoning endurantism12 in favour of perdurantism13, whereas those of the second type (involving career-long spatial co-location) remain equally puzzling on both views. In this paper I show that if backward time travel14 is possible, then a third type of coincidence puzzle arises. Puzzles of this third type confront perdurantists15, and can be solved simply by shifting to endurantism16.
  4. The plan for this chapter is as follows. In Section 2 I introduce some new terminology and show how it applies to the older puzzles. In Section 3 I give two examples of the new type of puzzle. Finally, in Section 4, I present the argument against perdurantism17 and discuss a number of possible responses.


In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: I have omitted several useful footnotes, including one that excludes exdurantism from the discussion.

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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