Moderate Monism and Modality
Noonan (Harold)
Source: Analysis, Vol. 68, No. 1 (Jan., 2008), pp. 88-94
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. Coincidence (e.g. of a statue and the piece of bronze which constitutes it) comes in two varieties - permanent and temporary. Moderate monism (about coincidence) is the position that permanent coincidence, but not temporary coincidence, entails identity. Extreme monism (also known as the stage theory) is the position that even temporary coincidence entails identity. Pluralists are opponents of monism tout court. The intuitively obvious, commonsensical position (= my own position) is moderate monism. It is therefore important to see if it can be sustained.
  2. Jim Stone ("Stone (Jim) - Why counterpart theory and three-dimensionalism are incompatible" [2005], "Stone (Jim) - Why counterpart theory and four-dimensionalism are incompatible" [2005a]) argues against the coherence of moderate monism. "Mackie (Penelope) - Coincidence and modal predicates" (2007) replies, using some ideas of mine ("Noonan (Harold) - Indeterminate Identity, Contingent Identity and Abelardian Predicates" [1991], "Noonan (Harold) - Constitution Is Identity" [1993]) and a (modified) Lewisean counterpart-theoretic account of de re modal predication. In what follows I argue that Mackie's response to Stone is defective, but then, redeploying some of her materials, provide an alternative response that is not vulnerable in the same way. It turns out that the nature of de re modal predication is irrelevant to the response to Stone.
  3. I begin by outlining the moderate monist position. Then I sketch the criticism that Stone makes and Mackie responds to (which she calls 'the modal dilemma'), explain Mackie's response and identify its defects and, finally, give my alternative response.

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