- This pseudo-Paper is intended as the mechanism to record time spent on the Note 'Change1' during my Thesis research, as from 2011.
- For the actual time recorded, click on "Paper Statistics" above.
Write-up2 (as at 09/09/2020 23:08:10): Change
- Change is obviously the central problem that questions of identity address. Just what changes can an object undergo while remaining the same thing?
- That said, I’m not clear whether there will be much extra to say here other than what is covered under the heads of persistence4 and such like.
- Maybe just two things for now:-
- If I understand things aright, change is something that happens to substances5, and the question of identity is whether or not that substance remains the same substance after some change. Change is not relevant (or at least persistence through change isn’t relevant) under (at least) a couple of philosophical positions:-
- If we adopt a mereological6 essentialist7 position, whereby the things that exist are regions of space-time and their contents8. Then, a thing just is a collection of particles, and if one of these is lost or destroyed, then so is the thing. This leads to the denial that there are any ordinary things, like chairs or animals, as they are always losing and gaining parts, and so only exist as the same thing momentarily.
- If we adopt a perdurantist9 account of persistence, the things that exist are space-time worms. A thing is not wholly present at a time, only its temporal stage is. The thing as a whole exists timelessly. Does the thing therefore change? Maybe not, but questions of persistence still apply, though maybe only pragmatically. Just what aggregate of stages are usefully described as a persisting thing? A four-dimensional naturalist might insist that exemplars of natural kinds – particularly organisms – have a greater claim to existence than arbitrary assemblages of stages.
- Another important matter is that (on many accounts) it is the rate of change that is critical. Everyone seems to agree that you cannot just swap out all the parts of a thing at the same time and claim that you have the same thing, whereas the assumption is that a thing can persist through change (pace the views in the bullet above) provided the changes occur slowly enough and piecemeal enough. After all, organisms10 replace all their parts over time (it is said) yet remain the same organism (ditto). It strikes me that there’s a degree of vagueness11 about how quickly the changes can take place without violating the persistence conditions of the object. Also, in the case of organisms, historically it has been supposed that the changes would take place naturally, but transplant surgery allows unnatural change. The transplanted organ will either by assimilated or rejected by the organism. If it is assimilated, especially if it’s hidden from view, we don’t feel any qualms about saying that is has become part of the organism, which has persisted through the change. I’m doubtful if we’d be so comfortable about the successful transplantation of visible parts, like limbs, particularly if only “accepted” by the use of immunosuppressant drugs.
- Works on this topic that I’ve actually read12 include the following:-
- "Arnold (Keith) - The Subject of Radical Change", Arnold, 1978
- "Carter (William) - How to Change Your Mind", Carter
- "Lear (Jonathan) - Change", Lear
- "LePoidevin (Robin) - Change", LePoidevin, 2003
- "Sider (Ted) - The Four-Dimensional Picture", Sider
- A further reading list13 might start with:-
- "Aune (Bruce) - Changing Things", Aune, 1985
- "Baxter (Donald L.M.) - Loose Identity and Becoming Something Else", Baxter, 2001
- "Bottani (Andrea C.) - The Puzzle of Change", Bottani, 2001
- "Brody (Baruch) - The Theory of Change", Brody, 1980
- "Browning (Douglas) - Sameness Through Change and the Coincidence of Properties", Browning, 1988
- "Campbell (Scott) - Rapid Psychological Change", Campbell, 2004
- "Carter (William) - Change", Carter, 1990
- "Denkel (Arda) - Theon’s Tale: Does a Cambridge Change Result in a Substantial Change?", Denkel, 1995
- "Doyle (Robert O.) - Change (Being and Becoming)", Doyle
- "Haslanger (Sally) - Persistence, Change, and Explanation", Haslanger, 1989
- "Heller (Mark) - Things Change", Heller, 1992
- "Hinchliff (Mark) - The Puzzle of Change", Hinchliff, 1996
- "Lowe (E.J.) - How Real Is Substantial Change?", Lowe, 2006
- "Lowe (E.J.) - Substantial Change and Spatiotemporal Coincidence", Lowe, 2006
- "Lowe (E.J.) - Identity Over Time and Change Of Composition", Lowe, 2002
- "Mellor (D.H.) - Change", Mellor, 1998
- "Mortensen (Chris) - Change and Inconsistency", Mortensen, 2015
- "Oderberg (David) - Temporal Parts and the Possibility of Change", Oderberg
- "Ujvari (Marta) - Cambridge Change and Sortal Essentialism", Ujvari, 2004
- This is mostly a place-holder14.
- This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (09/09/2020 23:08:10).
- Link to Latest Write-Up Note.
- This turn of phrase sounds too much like the “generous ontology”, which answers the question “what exists” as “any region of spacetime, and whatever is in it”, which includes all sorts of spatio-temporally gerrymandered objects.
- Here, I refer only to objects as are ordinarily taken to exist, like dogs and tennis balls, but with the restriction that they have all their parts essentially, and cease to exist when they lose a part.
- I’ve not been able to use my auto-linking technique as “change” is far too common a word for its references to be significant.
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020