Metaphysics: The Big Questions
Van Inwagen (Peter) & Zimmerman (Dean)
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Back Cover Blurb
  1. This student anthology presents both classic and contemporary readings in metaphysics and collects a wide range of answers to key metaphysical questions. Metaphysics originates in attempts to answer some of the most puzzling questions about the world and our place in it.
    • How are the appearances of things related to the things that appear?
    • What is the nature of space and time?
    • How do things persist through changes of parts and properties?
    • How do causes bring about their effects?
    • What is the relation between mind and body?
    • Is it possible for us to act freely?
    • Is there just one world?
    • Why is there a world at all?
    Can there be answers to these questions? If so, must the answers appeal to the action of a necessary being?
  2. "An outstanding and outstandingly complete collection of papers in metaphysics, selected by two of the foremost metaphysicians."
    … Alvin Plantinga. University of Notre Dame, Indiana
  3. Peter van Inwagen is John Cardinal O'Hara Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. He is the author of
  4. Dean W. Zimmerman is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. He has published articles on metaphysics in The American Philosophical Quarterly, Analysis, The Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Mind, The Monist, Nous, The Philosophical Review, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, and other journals and collections.

"Van Inwagen (Peter) & Zimmerman (Dean) - Metaphysics: The Big Questions - Preface"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

Preface (Full Text)
  1. The problems of metaphysics are many. Some arise upon the least reflection about the world and our place in it. Others are less obvious, appearing as problems only to those willing to think very hard about highly abstract questions. The reader of this anthology will find philosophers grappling with metaphysical problems of both sorts - although we have deliberately decided to favor the less abstract, more immediately accessible problems, since this anthology is intended as an introduction to the subject. The essays and excerpts are largely free of unexplicated technical terminology and symbolism. And the topics covered complement those of a number of popular single-author introductions to metaphysics.
  2. With the exception of the final group of essays, all the readings are made to fall under a series of questions about "the world." We assume that the world includes everything that there is - that is, all that exists.
  3. The first and largest part, "What are the most general features of the world?," includes readings on
    • the problem of universals1,
    • the nature of particular things and the manner of their persistence through time,
    • rival theories of the passage of time,
    • absolute space and incongruent counterparts,
    • causation2, and
    • a budget of paradoxes: McTaggart's paradox, paradoxes of motion, of the infinite, of time travel3, and of intrinsic change.
  4. The second, and second largest, part asks, "What is our place in the world?" Here are questions about
    • the relation between the way things appear to us and the way they are (sense data, secondary qualities),
    • personal identity (two forms of materialism, a version of Cartesian dualism, and Derek Parfit4's "Buddhism"),
    • the nature of phenomenal experience, and
    • free will.
  5. Part Three raises the question of "anti-realism": Is there just one world, one complete inventory of what there is? Or does what there is vary from community to community or person to person?
  6. Part Four begins with reflection on whether there could be an answer to the question, "Why is there a world?" - that is, why is there something, rather than nothing? The part ends with two attempts to answer the question by appeal to a necessary being (the Deity of the cosmological and ontological arguments).
  7. The final part includes challenges to the very possibility of metaphysics from both positivist and postmodern perspectives.
  8. Although most of the readings have appeared elsewhere, a few have been written especially for this volume:
  9. The introductions to the sections serve three purposes:
    • (i) to indicate how the readings in the section are related to one another;
    • (ii) to point out connections between these selections and readings in other parts of the anthology; and
    • (iii) to suggest supplementary readings.
  10. An undergraduate course in metaphysics could profitably use this text alongside a wide variety of books, including classics6 such as Descartes's Meditations on First Philosophy, Berkeley's Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous, and Bertrand Russell's The Problems of Philosophy. Here are some more recent introductory books that take up many of the questions addressed in this anthology and are, in general, appropriate for an undergraduate audience:
  11. The following anthologies and single-author texts may serve as companions to the volume for more advanced students (e.g., upper-level philosophy majors, or beginning graduate students):
  12. Our lists of supplementary readings include suggestions for matching up chapters from all of these books with our selections. They also include many other books, articles, and (in a few cases) stories we think could be used to teach metaphysics to beginners.
  13. The dedication is offered in gratitude from two philosophers happy to have been on the “Chisholm Trail”.

In-Page Footnotes ("Van Inwagen (Peter) & Zimmerman (Dean) - Metaphysics: The Big Questions - Preface")

Footnote 5: See "Zimmerman (Dean) - Distinct Indiscernibles and the Bundle Theory".

Footnote 6: See, eg, Footnote 7: This shows Van Inwagen + Zimmerman’s Christian Bias.

Footnote 9: See, maybe,

"Van Inwagen (Peter) & Zimmerman (Dean) - What Is Metaphysics?"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

  1. What is the Subject Matter of Metaphysics?
  2. Is Metaphysics Possible?
  3. A Metaphysical Problem: the Existence and Nature of Universals1

"Van Inwagen (Peter) & Zimmerman (Dean) - What Are the Most General Features of the World"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

"Van Inwagen (Peter) & Zimmerman (Dean) - What Is Our Place In the World?"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

"Van Inwagen (Peter) & Zimmerman (Dean) - Is There Just One World?"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

"Van Inwagen (Peter) & Zimmerman (Dean) - Why Is There a World?"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

"Van Inwagen (Peter) & Zimmerman (Dean) - Is Metaphysics Possible?"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

"Anscombe (G.E.M.) - Causality and Determination"

Source: Sosa & Tooby - Causation

Author’s Introduction
  1. It is often declared or evidently assumed that causality1 is some kind of necessary connection, or alternatively, that being caused is — non-trivially — instancing some exceptionless generalization saying that such an event always follows such antecedents. Or the two conceptions are combined.
  2. Obviously there can be, and are, a lot of divergent views covered by this account. Any view that it covers nevertheless manifests one particular doctrine or assumption. Namely;
      If an effect occurs in one case and a similar effect does not occur in an apparently similar case, there must be a relevant further difference.
  3. Any radically different account of causation2, then, by contrast with which all those diverse views will be as one, will deny this assumption. Such a radically opposing view can grant that often — though it is difficult to say generally when — the assumption of relevant difference is a sound principle of investigation. It may grant that there are necessitating causes, but will refuse to identify causation3 as such with necessitation. It can grant that there are situations in which, given the initial conditions and no interference, only one result will accord with the laws of nature; but it will not see general reason, in advance of discovery, to suppose that any given course of things has been so determined. So it may grant that in many cases difference of issue can rightly convince us of a relevant difference of circumstances; but it will deny that, quite generally, this must be so.
  4. The first view is common to many philosophers of the past. It is also. usually but not always in a neo-Humean form, the prevailing received opinion throughout the currently busy and productive philosophical schools of the English-speaking world, and also in some of the European and Latin-American schools where philosophy is pursued in at all the same sort of way; nor is it confined to these schools. So firmly rooted is it that for many even outside pure philosophy, it routinely determines the meaning of 'cause’, when consciously used as a theoretical term: witness the terminology of the contrast between "causal" and "statistical" laws, which is drawn by writers on physics – writers, note, who would not conceive themselves to be addicts of any philosophic school when they use this language to express that contrast.
  5. The truth of this conception is hardly debated. It is, indeed, a bit of Weltanschauung: it helps to form a cast of mind which is characteristic of our whole culture.


"Anselm - The Ontological Argument"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions


"Armstrong (David) - Qualities"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

COMMENT: From Consciousness and Causalit1y

"Arnauld (Antoine) & Nicole (Pierre) - Of Confused Subjects Which Are Equivalent to Two Subjects"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

"Benardete (Jose A.) - Grasping the Infinite"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

"Black (Max) - Achilles and the Tortoise"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

"Broad (C.D.) - McTaggart's Arguments Against the Reality of Time"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

COMMENT: From An Examination of McTaggart's Philosophy, Vol. II, Part I.

"Broad (C.D.) - The General Problem of Time and Change"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

COMMENT: From Scientific Thought

"Broad (C.D.) - The Theory of Sensa"

Source: Swartz - Perceiving, Sensing, and Knowing: A Book of 20th Century Sources in Philosophy of Perception

COMMENT: From Scientific Thought; Excepted "Van Inwagen (Peter) & Zimmerman (Dean) - Metaphysics: The Big Questions"

"Carnap (Rudolf) - The Rejection of Metaphysics"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

COMMENT: Chapter 1 of Philosophy and Logical Syntax

"Chalmers (David) - The Puzzle of Conscious Experience"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

COMMENT: Also in "Damasio (Antonio), Ed. - The 'Scientific American' Book of the Brain: The Best Writing on Consciousness"

"Chisholm (Roderick) - Human Freedom and the Self"

Source: Watson - Free Will - Oxford Readings

COMMENT: Also in "Van Inwagen (Peter) & Zimmerman (Dean) - Metaphysics: The Big Questions" and in "Chisholm (Roderick) - On Metaphysics".

"Chisholm (Roderick) - Identity Through Time"

Source: Chisholm - Person and Object, Chapter 3

  1. The Ship of Theseus1
  2. Playing Loose with the ‘Is’ of Identity
  3. An Interpretation of Bishop Butler’s Theses
  4. Feigning Identity
  5. The Persistence of Persons through Time
  6. ’Will I Be He?’: Truth-Conditions ad Criteria


"Chisholm (Roderick) - Identity Through Time"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

Author’s Introduction
  1. According to Bishop Butler, when we say of a physical thing existing at one time that it is identical with or the same as a physical thing existing at some other time (“this is the same ship we traveled on before”), we are likely to be using the expression “same” or “identical” in a “loose and popular sense”.
  2. But when we say of a person existing at one time that he is identical with or the same as a person existing at some other time (“the ship has the same captain it had before”), we are likely to be using the expression “same” or “identical” in a “strict and philosophical sense”.
  3. I shall attempt to give an interpretation of these two theses; and I shall suggest that there is at least an element of truth in each.


"Chisholm (Roderick) - The Status of Appearances"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

COMMENT: Part of Chap. 6 of "Theory of Knowledge (1st Edition)"; Also (excerpted) in "Rosenthal (David), Ed. - The Nature of Mind"

"Chisholm (Roderick) - Which Physical Thing Am I? An Excerpt from 'Is There a Mind-Body Problem?'"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions
Write-up Note1

  1. The Theory
  2. Some Objections Considered
  3. Conclusion

"Flax (Jane) - Postmodernism, Feminism, and Metaphysics"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

COMMENT: From Thinking Fragments

"Gardner (Martin) - The Fourth Dimension"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

COMMENT: From The Ambidextrous Universe

"Geach (Peter) - Some Problems About Time"

Source: Strawson - Studies in the Philosophy of Thought and Action

COMMENT: Also in "Van Inwagen (Peter) & Zimmerman (Dean) - Metaphysics: The Big Questions"

"Hinckfuss (Ian) - Topis, Soris, Noris"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

COMMENT: From The Existence of Space and Time

"Hobart (R.E.) - Free Will as Involving Determination and Inconceivable Without It"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

"Hume (David) - Constant Conjunction"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

COMMENT: From "Hume (David), Mossner (Ernest) - A Treatise of Human Nature"

"James (William) - The Problem of Being"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

COMMENT: Chapter 3 of Some Problems of Philosophy

"Lewis (David) - Survival and Identity"

Source: Lewis - Philosophical Papers Volume I, Part 1: Ontology, Chapter 5

Oxford Scholarship Online
  1. Prompted by Derek Parfit1's early work on personal identity, Lewis advances the view that persons are best regarded as suitably related aggregates of person-stages. Parfit2 argues that what matters3 in survival is either identity or mental continuity and connectedness; that the two cannot both be what matters4 in survival (because the former is a one-one relation and does not admit of degree, whereas the latter can admit of degree and may be a one-many or many-one relation); and that what matters5 in survival is not identity.
  2. Contra Parfit6, Lewis contends that the opposition is a false one, since it obscures the fact that mental continuity and connectedness is a relation between two person-stages (i.e., time-slices of continuant persons), whereas identity is a relation between temporally extended continuant persons with stages at different times.
  3. The postscript includes both Lewis’ rejoinder to Parfit7's objections, as well as a further defense of person-stages.

  1. Photocopy filed in "Various - Papers on Identity Boxes: Vol 09 (L)";
  2. Also in:-
  3. For Notes, see "Funkhouser (Eric) - Notes on Lewis, “Survival and Identity”".

"Lewis (David) - The Paradoxes of Time Travel"

Source: Lewis - Philosophical Papers Volume II, Part 4: Counterfactuals and Time, Chapter 18

  1. This paper argues that time travel1 is possible, and that the paradoxes of time travel2 are oddities, not impossibilities.
  2. The defence of the possibility of time travel3 involves
    1. a commitment to enduring things having temporal as well as spatial parts,
    2. psychological continuity4 and connectedness and
    3. causal continuity
    as criteria of personal identity, and a distinction between external and personal time.

Author’s Introduction
  1. Time travel5, I maintain, is possible. The paradoxes of time travel6 are oddities, not impossibilities. They prove only this much, which few would have doubted: that a possible world where time travel7 took place would be a most strange world, different in fundamental ways from the world we think is ours.
  2. I shall be concerned here with the sort of time travel8 that is recounted in science fiction. Not all science fiction writers are clear-headed, to be sure, and inconsistent time travel9 stories have often been written. But some writers have thought the problems through with great care, and their stories are perfectly consistent.
  3. If I can defend the consistency of some science fiction stories of time travel10, then I suppose parallel defenses might be given of some controversial physical hypotheses, such as the hypothesis that time is circular or the hypothesis that there are particles that travel faster than light. But I shall not explore these parallels here.
  4. What is time travel11? Inevitably, it involves a discrepancy between time and time. Any traveler departs and then arrives at his destination; the time elapsed from departure to arrival (positive, or perhaps zero) is the duration of the journey. But if he is a time traveler12, the separation in time between departure and arrival does not equal the duration of his journey. He departs; he travels for an hour, let us say; then he arrives. The time he reaches is not the time one hour after his departure. It is later, if he has traveled toward the future; earlier, if he has traveled toward the past. If he has traveled far toward the past, it is earlier even than his departure. How can it be that the same two events, his departure and his arrival, are separated by two unequal amounts of time?


"Lewis (David) - The Problem of Temporary Intrinsics"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

Full Text
  1. Let us say that something persists iff, somehow or other, it exists at various times; this is the neutral word1. Something perdures iff it persists by having different temporal parts, or stages, at different times, though no one part of it is wholly present at more than one time; whereas it endures iff it persists by being wholly present at more than one time. Perdurance corresponds to the way a road persists through space; part of it is here and part of it is there, and no part is wholly present at two different places. Endurance corresponds to the way a universal, if there are such things, would be wholly present wherever and whenever it is instantiated. Endurance involves overlap: the content of two different times has the enduring thing as a common part. Perdurance does not.
  2. (There might be mixed cases: entities that persist by having an enduring part and a perduring part. An example might be a person who consisted of an enduring entelechy ruling a perduring body; or an electron that had a universal of unit negative charge as a permanent part, but did not consist entirely of universals2. But here I ignore the mixed cases. And when I speak of ordinary things as perduring, I shall ignore their enduring universals3, if such there be.)
  3. Discussions of endurance versus perdurance tend to be endarkened by people who say such things as this: 'Of course you are wholly present at every moment of your life, except in case of amputation. For at every moment all your parts are there: your legs, your lips, your liver. . . .' These endarkeners may think themselves partisans of endurance, but they are not. They are perforce neutral because they lack the conceptual resources to understand what is at issue. Their speech betrays - and they may acknowledge it willingly - that they have no concept of a temporal part. (Or at any rate none that applies to a person, say, as opposed to a process or a stretch of time.) Therefore they are on neither side of a dispute about whether or not persisting things are divisible into temporal parts. They understand neither the affirmation nor the denial. They are like the people - fictional, I hope - who say that the whole of the long road is in their little village, for not one single lane of it is missing. Meaning less than others do by 'part', since they omit parts cut crosswise, they also mean less than others do by 'whole'. They say the 'whole' road is in the village; by which they mean that every 'part' is; but by that, they only mean that every part cut lengthwise is. Divide the road into its least lengthwise parts; they cannot even raise the question whether those are in the village wholly or only partly. For that is a question about crosswise parts, and the concept of a crosswise part is what they lack. Perhaps 'crosswise part' really does sound to them like a blatant contradiction. Or perhaps it seems to them that they understand it, but the village philosophers have persuaded them that really they couldn't, so their impression to the contrary must be an illusion. At any rate, I have the concept of a temporal part; and for some while I shall be addressing only those of you who share it4.
  4. . . . The principal and decisive objection against endurance, as an account of the persistence of ordinary things such as people or puddles, is the problem of temporary intrinsics5. Persisting things change their intrinsic properties. For instance shape: when I sit, I have a bent shape; when I stand, I have a straightened shape. Both shapes are temporary intrinsic properties; I have them only some of the time. How is such change possible? I know of only three solutions.
  5. (It is not a solution just to say how very commonplace and indubitable it is that we have different shapes at different times. To say that is only to insist - rightly - that it must be possible somehow. Still less is it a solution to say it in jargon - as it might be, that bent-on-Monday and straight-on-Tuesday are compatible because they are 'time-indexed properties' - if that just means that, somehow, you can be bent on Monday and straight on Tuesday.)
  6. First solution: contrary to what we might think, shapes are not genuine intrinsic properties. They are disguised relations, which an enduring thing may bear to times. One and the same enduring thing may bear the bent-shape relation to some times, and the straight-shape relation to others. In itself, considered apart from its relations to other things, it has no shape at all. And likewise for all other seeming temporary intrinsics6; all of them must be reinterpreted as relations that something with an absolutely unchanging intrinsic nature bears to different times. The solution to the problem of temporary intrinsics7 is that there aren't any temporary intrinsics8. This is simply incredible, if we are speaking of the persistence of ordinary things. (It might do for the endurance of entelechies or universals9.) If we know what shape is, we know that it is a property, not a relation.
  7. Second solution: the only intrinsic properties of a thing are those it has at the present moment. Other times are like false stories; they are abstract representations, composed out of the materials of the present, which represent or misrepresent the way things are. When something has different intrinsic properties according to one of these ersatz other times, that does not mean that it, or any part of it, or anything else, just has them - no more so than when a man is crooked according to the Times, or honest according to the News. This is a solution that rejects endurance; because it rejects persistence altogether. And it is even less credible than the first solution. In saying that there are no other times, as opposed to false representations thereof, it goes against what we all believe. No man, unless it be at the moment of his execution, believes that he has no future; still less does anyone believe that he has no past.
  8. Third solution: the different shapes, and the different temporary intrinsics10 generally, belong to different things. Endurance is to be rejected in favour of perdurance. We perdure; we are made up of temporal parts, and our temporary intrinsics11 are properties of these parts, wherein they differ one from another. There is no problem at all about how different things can differ in their intrinsic properties.

COMMENT: From "Lewis (David) - On the Plurality of Worlds".

In-Page Footnotes ("Lewis (David) - The Problem of Temporary Intrinsics")

Footnote 1: My discussion of this problem is much indebted to "Armstrong (David) - Identity Through Time" (1980); and to Mark Johnston. I follow Johnston in terminology.

Footnote 4:

"Malcolm (Norman) - Anselm's Ontological Arguments"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

Malcolm’s primary insight is that there are (even if Anselm didn’t so consider it) two arguments in the Proslogion: one (allegedly unsound) that seeks to demonstrate the existence of an infinitely great being; the other (allegedly sound) – a modal1 argument – that seeks to demonstrate the necessary existence of such a being (or maybe the existence of a necessarily existent such a being). His paper divides into four sections:-
  1. Agreement that the argument in Anselm’s Proslogion II fails for the reasons given by Kant. Existence is not a predicate. The concept of a being “than which no greater can be conceived” does not guarantee that being’s existence.
  2. The second argument in Anselm’s Proslogion III succeeds. The concept of a necessarily existent being has not been shown to be self-contradictory. And this concept guarantees the existence of the being conceived.
  3. Kant’s criticism of this second argument fails
  4. Three questions:-
    • Is the idea of a being “than which no greater can be conceived” self-contradictory?
    • How did our concept of God arise?
    • What is the relation of Anselm’s ontological argument to religious belief?
Malcolm is a Wittgensteinian, and “forms of life” feature frequently in the paper. There’s also a comparison between existential statements in mathematics and the statement “God exists”. There’s therefore a question whether Malcolm intends that God should be said to “necessarily exist” in an anti-realist sense – ie. in the form of life of believers – or in some even more ethereal sense as in the way mathematical objects do or do not exist (as “the greatest prime number” does not exist). On a first and second reading, I found the paper obscure in this regard, but if God does only exist in the anti-realist or mathematical sense, I take this as a disappointing result, and that the ontological argument doesn’t take us very far.

Part I

This is standard stuff, and doesn’t need much further comment. There are two modes of existence: “in the understanding” and “in reality”, and it is better to exist in both than in only one mode, and better to exist in the second mode than the first. Existence is a perfection. If I conceive of something that does not exist, than it is possible for it to exist, and it will be greater if it exists than if it doesn’t. This doctrine of existence as a perfection is “remarkably queer”. The example is given of two “job resumes” – tacking “and I exist” on the end as an extra quality would be “ludicrous”. Gassendi’s2 dictum (anticipating Kant) that “Existence is a perfection neither in God nor in anything else; it is rather that in the absence of which there is no perfection” is accepted. So, the argument in Proslogion II is fallacious.

Part II

In Proslogion III, Anselm says two things: (1) that a being whose nonexistence is logically impossible is greater than a contingent being whose nonexistence is logically possible; and (2) that God is a being than which a greater cannot be conceived. Malcolm takes it as a virtue that Anselm’s definition of the term GOD makes no reference to potentially contingent attributes (like “tallest”) that might fail to obtain even were God to exist. He distinguishes truths that are logically necessary from those that aren’t (without using the analytic / synthetic or de re / de dicto vocabulary). While he had rejected existence as a perfection, he accepts that the logical impossibility of nonexistence is a perfection. He discusses the issue of dependence – both in time and in reliance on external support – and notes that it’s part of the concept GOD to be an unlimited being. He distinguishes “endless” from “eternal” beings. An “endless” being is one that contingently never ends, while an eternal being is one whose nonexistence is impossible. The idea of contingent existence or nonexistence cannot be applied to God.

The second proof therefore reduces to the claim that God’s existence is either impossible or necessary. He’ll consider the first option in the final Part. Necessary existence is a property of God in the same sense as necessary omnipotence is. Again, Gassendi appears in support. I have to agree that necessary existence does have a lot more going for it as a property than (mere) existence does.

Part III

Malcolm considers Kant’s objections to positing an absolutely necessary being. Kant agrees that “God is omnipotent” is a necessary judgement (because omnipotence is included in the concept GOD) – but it’s analytic, not synthetic. Yet, there is (for Kant) no contradiction in saying “There is no God”. Malcolm’s view is that this is a necessarily false statement. Yet, it’s not clear to me whether he means this in an analytic or synthetic sense, and what mode of existence he wants to give to God. Malcolm claims that “once one has grasped Anselm's proof of the necessary existence of a being a greater than which cannot be conceived, no question remains as to whether it exists or not, just as Euclid's demonstration of the existence of an infinity of prime numbers leaves no question on that issue”. It’s not clear to me what the “just as” relation is supposed to be.

Malcolm notes that “There are as many kinds of existential propositions as there are kinds of subjects of discourse.” He then discusses the views of Ryle, Smart and others that "Any assertion of the existence of something, like any assertion of the occurrence of something, can be denied without logical absurdity." And "The concept of a logically necessary being is a self-contradictory concept, like the concept of a round square.... No existential proposition can be logically necessary." He agrees with J. N. Findlay – famous for his attempted ontological disproof of God’s existence – that "if God is to satisfy religious claims and needs, He must be a being in every way inescapable, One whose existence and whose possession of certain excellences we cannot possibly conceive away." Findlay draws the conclusion from this that – because the concept of God is “self-evidently absurd” – it “entails its necessary non-existence". Malcolm doesn’t agree with this conclusion.

Malcolm accepts the view that “logically necessary truth "merely reflects our use of words"”, but denies that this should draw us to conclude that "the Divine existence is either senseless or impossible" any more than concluding that “mathematics is "senseless or impossible"”. If theory has it that every proposition of the form “x exists” is contingent – and “God exists” is a necessary truth – then so much the worse for theory. He doesn’t take it that this proves that God cannot exist – which is Findlay’s conclusion.

Malcolm says (rightly) that the correct reply is not to blindly accept some dogma on existential propositions, but look at how words are actually used. He points out the Judeo-Christian language games in which God’s status as a necessary being is indubitable. My worry is whether we can get out of the Matrix into the real world, and whether Malcolm wants us to.

Finally, Malcolm looks at the Kantian analysis of the problem – which is expounded as “(the) a priori truth of the conditional proposition, 'If such a being exists then it necessarily exists.' … does not entail the existence of anything.” Malcolm’s view is that the proposition “God is a necessary being” cannot be explained in such conditional terms, which are themselves self-contradictory. The conditional implies that it is possible for God not to exist, whereas the necessity claim says that his non-existence is impossible.

Part IV

Leibniz attempted to demonstrate that the idea of “a being a greater than which cannot be conceived” is not self-contradictory. He thinks this is a good move, but he’s not impressed by Leibniz’s efforts. He admits that he (Malcolm) doesn’t know how to demonstrate that this is the case, but denies that such a demonstration can be legitimately demanded; and he’s no doubt right that there are truths that “we can’t prove”. He doesn’t go into the issues that apologists and sceptics have worried their heads over – such as the possible incompatibility of God’s omnipotence and goodness with the existence of ”excessive” evil in the world – but simply gives a (presumably then topical) alleged parallel of not being able to prove that we actually see material things when we think we do. I was not impressed by this.

He gives a “non-biographical” account of how our concept of “a greater than which cannot be conceived” might have come about – based on our need for the forgiveness of overwhelming guilt, and wheels out Kierkegaard’s claim that “the dread of sin and a heavy conscience torture a man into crossing the narrow line between despair bordering upon madness - and Christendom”; a claim that the non-theist might see as a psychological hang-up “merely” requiring amendment of life to resolve. Malcolm views most philosophers as shallow beings who “When (they) encounter this concept (of God) as a problem in philosophy, … do not consider the human phenomena that lie behind it”. And no doubt he’s right.

He closes by considering whether acceptance of the soundness of the (second) of Anselm’s ontological arguments would necessarily lead to “conversions”. He thinks not and thinks that it’s perfectly possible (contrary to the intuitions of Plato’s Socrates) to follow the logic and not be “touched religiously” – and to be “(inclined) to partake in (the) religious form of life”. No doubt true, but relevant in this context only as whether it implies realism or anti-realism on Malcolm’s part.

Theo Todman
  • Written for a Hethrop Philosophy of Religion Seminar on 18th October 2010
  • It was dashed off in a couple of hours, and requires revision – in particular Section II/III concerning the logic of the second Anselmian argument.

COMMENT: Also soft copy from The Philosophical Review, Vol. 69, No. 1 (Jan., 1960), pp. 41-62 (via JSTOR); filed in "Various - Heythrop Essays & Supporting Material (Boxes)".

In-Page Footnotes ("Malcolm (Norman) - Anselm's Ontological Arguments")

Footnote 2: A contemporary of Descartes (not Anselm) – see Wikipedia: Pierre Gassendi, Stanford: Pierre Gassendi and Link.

"McTaggart (J. McT. E.) - Time"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions


"O'Connor (Timothy) - The Agent As Cause"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

"Parfit (Derek) - Divided Minds and the Nature of Persons"

Source: Blakemore & Greenfield - Mindwaves

COMMENT: Also in

"Parfit (Derek) - The Puzzle of Reality: Why Does the Universe Exist?"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

"Price (H.H.) - Universals and Resemblances"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions


"Prior (Arthur N.) - Some Free Thinking About Time"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

"Prior (Arthur N.) - The Notion of the Present"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

Full Text1
  1. Before directly discussing the notion of the present, I want to discuss the notion of the real. These two concepts are closely connected; indeed on my view they are one and the same concept, and the present simply is the real considered in relation to two particular species of unreality, namely the past and the future. So let's begin with the real in general.
  2. Philosophers often speak as if the real world were just one of a number of different big boxes in which various things go on, the other boxes having such labels as 'the mind' or 'the world of Greek mythology'. For example, centaurs exist in the world of Greek mythology but not in the real world, aeroplanes exist in the real world but not in the world of Greek mythology, and horses and men exist both in the real world and in the world of Greek mythology. Again, Anselm addresses himself to people who held that God does not exist in the real world but only in the mind, and claimed to have a proof that if God exists in the mind he must exist in the real world too. Leibniz contrasted the real or actual world with an infinity of merely possible worlds in which various things happen which do not happen in the actual world. All these ways of talking suggest that the real world or the actual world is just a region of some larger universe which contains other regions as well - possible worlds, imaginary worlds, and so on.
  3. I want to suggest - I don't of course claim that there's anything original in this suggestion - that this way of conceiving the relation between the real and the unreal is profoundly mistaken and misleading. The most important way in which it is misleading is that it minimises, or makes a purely arbitrary matter, the vast and stark difference that there is between the real and every from of unreality. For talking of the real as one 'region' among others immediately suggests the question, 'In that case, what is so special about the real world in contrast with all other regions? - is it not a kind of narrow-mindedness and parochialism to think that it has anything special about it that none of the others have?' One philosopher, Meinong, has indeed said precisely that it is just narrow-mindedness and parochialism to single out the real world as a region of special interest; the 'prejudice in favour of the actual', he called it. Well, I want to argue that this is not just narrow-mindedness and parochialism, and that it becomes obvious enough what is so special about the real world as soon as we drop this metaphor of boxes or regions and become a little more literal.
  4. To say that there are centaurs in the world of Greek mythology is surely not to say that there are centaurs in some remote and peculiar region, but just to say that Greek myth-makers have said that there are centaurs. Similarly, to say that there are centaurs in some person's mind is to say that that person thinks or imagines that there are centaurs. And to say that there are possible worlds in which there are centaurs is just to say that it could be thatthere are centaurs. In general, to say that X is the case in some non-real world is just to say 'X is the case' with some modifying prefix like 'Greek myth-makers have said that', 'Jones imagines that', or 'It could be that'. But to say that X is the case in the real or the actual world, or that it is really or actually or in fact the case, is just to say that it is the case - flat, and without any prefix whatever. To say that there are centaurs in the real world, for example, is not to say that there are centaurs in some region of the universe in which we happen to have more interest than in others; it is simply to say that there are centaurs. Talk of the real world, in other words, is not a metaphorical fudging-up of talk in which our sentences have a special kind of prefix, but a fudging-up of talk in which the relevant sentences have no prefixes at all. 'Really', 'actually', 'in fact', 'in the real world' are strictly redundant expressions - that, and not any prejudice or provincialism, is their specialness.
  5. So to say that although there are no centaurs in the real world there are some in the world of Greek mythology, is just to say that although there are no centaur's Greek myth-makers have said that there are; to say that although God does not exist in reality he exists in the mind, is just to say that although God does not exist people may imagine that he does; to say that although Sextus raped Lucretia in the real world there is a possible world in which he didn't, is just to say that although Sextus raped Lucretia he need not have done so. There is, if you like, no other place than the real world for God or centaurs to exist in or for Sextus to rape Lucretia in; for God or centaurs to exist in the real world, or for Sextus to rape Lucretia in the real world, is just for God or centaurs to exist, or for Sextus to rape Lucretia. Again, 'Greek myth-makers have said that there are centaurs in the real world' is all one with 'Greek myth-makers have said that there are centaurs', and so is 'Greek myth-makers in the real world have said that there are centaurs.'
  6. And now the present. It is tempting to think of the present as a region of the universe in which certain things happen, such as the war in Vietnam, and the past and the future as other regions in which other things happen, such as the battle of Hastings and men going to Mars. But to this picture there is the same objection as to the picture of the 'real world' as a box or region among other boxes or regions. It doesn't bring out what is so special about the present; and to be more specific, it doesn't bring out the way in which the present is real and the past and future are not. And I want to suggest that the reality of the present consists in what the reality of anything else consists in, namely the absence of a qualifying prefix. To say that Whitrow's lecture is past is to say that it has been the case that Whitrow is lecturing. To say that Scott's lecture is future is to say that it will be the case that Scott is lecturing. But to say that my lecture is present is just to say that I am lecturing – flat, no prefixes. The pastness of an event, that is to say its having taken place, is not the same thing as the event itself; nor is its futurity; but the presentness of an event is just the event. The presentness of my lecturing, for instance, is just my lecturing. Moreover, just as a real thought of a centaur, and a thought of a real centaur, are both of them just a thought of a centaur, so the present pastness of Whitrow's lecture, and its past presentness, are both just its pastness. And conversely, its pastness is its present pastness, so that although Whitrow's lecture isn't now present and so isn't real, isn't a fact, nevertheless its pastness, its having taken place, is a present fact, is a reality, and will be one as long as time shall last.
  7. Notoriously, much of what is present isn't present permanently; the present is a shifting, changing thing. That is only to say that much of what is the case, of what is real and true, is constantly changing. Not everything, of course; some things that are the case also have always been the case and will always be the case. I imagine scientists have a special interest in such things. And among the things that not only are the case but always have been and always will be, are the laws of change themselves, I mean such laws as that if anything has occurred then for ever after it will have occurred (like Whitrow's lecture). These are the laws of what is now called tense logic, and the conception of the present that I have just been suggesting is deeply embedded in the syntax of that discipline. So that conception underlies, or anyhow seems to underlie, what is now a pretty flourishing systematic enterprise2. Precisely for this reason, it seems to me important that we tense-logicians should realise that there are difficulties about this conception of the present, arising either from physical science or from the philosophy of physical science. So I want now to state as clearly and crudely as I can what this difficulty appears to be.
  8. Suppose we have observed on some very distant body a regularly repeating process of some sort, say a pulsation. We have just observed one of these pulsations, and as the body is a very distant one, we know that the pulsation we are observing happened some time ago. We now consider the pulsation immediately after the one we are observing, and we ask whether this next pulsation, although we won't of course observe it for a while, is in fact going on right now, or is really still to come, or has occurred already. On the view of presentness which I have been suggesting, this is always a sensible question. At least if there are to be any further pulsation at all, then either the body is pulsating, or it is not the case but will be the case that it is pulsating or it is not the case but has been the case that it is pulsating. The difference between pulsating — really and actually pulsating — and merely having pulsated or being about to pulsate, is as clear and comprehensible a difference as any that we can think of, being but one facet of the great gulf that separates the real from the unreal, what is from what is not. Just this, however, is what the special theory of relativity appears to deny. If the distant body is having its nth pulsation as we perceive it having its n-1th — is pulsating, and not merely has been or will be pulsating — then the nth pulsation and the perception of the n-1th are simultaneous; not just simultaneous from such and such a point of view or in such and such a frame of reference, but simultaneous. And according to the special theory of relativity, such "absolute" simultaneity is in many cases just not to be had3.
  9. One possible reaction to this situation, which to my mind is perfectly respectable though it isn't very fashionable4, is to insist that all that physics has shown to be true or likely is that in some cases we can never know, we can never physically find out, whether something is actually happening or merely has happened or will happen. I'm sure there are questions which are perfectly genuine5 and intelligible questions but which seem to be incapable of being answered. For instance, I know perfectly well what it would be for you to see what I would call purple wherever I see red, and for you to see what I would call blue wherever I see purple, and so on round the clock; but I cannot imagine any procedure which would conclusively show that our respective visual experiences are, or that they are not, related in this way. And there may well be a similar but more subtle systematic impossibility in finding the answer to questions like my one about the distant pulsating body.
  10. Furthermore, when confronted with unanswerable questions, it is often good scientific practice to devise a language in which these questions cannot be even asked. And this usually involves a good deal more than just refraining from admitting certain words or longer expressions into one's scientific vocabulary; the very syntax of scientific language will be involved too. As far as our present subject is concerned, even before Einstein physical scientists not only eschewed the words "past", "present" and "future", but eschewed tenses too. Time enters physical science through intervals by which one event may be earlier or later than another. Whether the events are the case or merely have been or will be, is of no concern to the scientist, so he uses a language in which the difference between being and having been and being about to be is inexpressible. And this, as I've said, has been the case since long before the special theory of relativity. That theory, all the same, has made an important difference. Before it was devised, the relation between tensed language and the tenseless language of the scientist was pretty straightforward. It amounted to this: When a scientist said "The interval between an earlier event A and a later event B is n time units", you could translate this as "It is or has been or will be the case that (B is occurring and it was the case n time units ago that (A is occurring))". But I don't think this is what a scientist now means by "earlier" and "later", and indeed a scientist is not now likely even to say that the interval between A and B is n time units, just like that; the only interval between a pair of events to which he will give a definite value is a space-time one.


In-Page Footnotes ("Prior (Arthur N.) - The Notion of the Present")

Footnote 1:
  • The original paper is A. N. Prior, 'The Notion of the Present', Studium Generale, 23 (1970), pp. 245-8.
Footnote 2:
  • The Van Inwagen & Zimmerman extract cuts off here.
  • Probably for good reason, as the paper seems to go off the rails from hereon in.
Footnote 3:
  • This sounds a bit muddled up to me. There’s no such thing as absolute simultaneity in SR. It all depends on the frame of reference.
Footnote 4:
  • Probably because it’s off target. This case has nothing epistemological about it.
Footnote 5:
  • Well, I agree, but the logical positivists didn’t.

"Putnam (Hilary) - After Metaphysics, What?"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

"Putnam (Hilary) - Truth and Convention"

Source: Putnam, Conant - Realism with a Human Face

COMMENT: Also in "Van Inwagen (Peter) & Zimmerman (Dean) - Metaphysics: The Big Questions"

"Quine (W.V.) - Identity, Ostension, and Hypostasis"

Source: Quine - From a Logical Point of View

Author’s Introduction
  1. Identity is a popular source of philosophical perplexity. Undergoing change as I do, how can I be said to continue to be myself? Considering that a complete replacement of my material substance takes place every few years, how can I be said to continue to be I for more than such a period at best?
  2. It would be agreeable to be driven, by these or other considerations, to belief in a changeless and therefore immortal soul as the vehicle of my persisting self-identity. But we should be less eager to embrace a parallel solution of Heracleitus's parallel problem regarding a river: "You cannot bathe in the same river twice, for new waters are ever flowing in upon you."
  3. The solution of Heracleitus's problem, though familiar, will afford a convenient approach to some less familiar matters. The truth is that you can bathe in the same river twice, but not in the same river-stages. You can bathe in two river-stages which are stages of the same river, and this is what constitutes bathing in the same river twice. A river is a process through time, and the river-stages are its momentary parts. Identification of the river bathed in once with the river bathed in again is just what determines our subject-matter to be a river process as opposed to a river stage.
  4. Let me speak of any multiplicity of water molecules as a water. Now a river-stage is at the same time a water-stage, but two stages of the same river are not in general stages of the same water. River stages are water stages, but rivers are not waters. You may bathe in the same river twice without bathing in the same water twice, and you may, in these days of fast transportation, bathe in the same water twice while bathing in two different rivers.


"Quine (W.V.) - Identity: an Excerpt From Quiddities"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

  1. From Quiddities
  2. Identity as a true relation (against Hume’s doubts).
  3. Identity as useful (contra Wittgenstein1’s doubts).
  4. Treats briefly of Heraclitus’s river, Ship of Theseus2 & Persons3.
  5. Common theme: persistence through complete change of parts. Riddles arise because of what we choose to count as the reference of our words.
  6. Words as occasionally vague instruments. Agrees with Humpty Dumpty.
  7. So it’s arbitrary whether we say a person counts as beginning at conception, birth or in between. Persons taken loosely to be their bodies?
  8. Continuity of change is necessary for identity-preservation.
  9. Mentions stages.
  10. Brief Evaluation:
    • Vagueness of language OK, but no mention of natural kinds4.
    • No consideration of possibility that a person may begin to exist only after birth (if ever).
    • No consideration that stages, rather than language, solve the Ship of Theseus5 problem.

"Quine (W.V.) - Speaking of Objects"

Source: Quine - Ontological Relativity

COMMENT: Also in "Van Inwagen (Peter) & Zimmerman (Dean) - Metaphysics: The Big Questions"

"Reid (Thomas) - Efficient Cause and Active Power"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

COMMENT: From Essays on the Active Powers of the Human Mind

"Rowe (William L.) - The Cosmological Argument and the Principle of Sufficient Reason"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

"Russell (Bertrand) - Psychological and Physical Causal Laws"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

"Russell (Bertrand) - The Principle of Individuation"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

COMMENT: From "Russell (Bertrand) - Human Knowledge - Its Scope and Limits", Part IV, Section VIII.

"Salmon (Wesley) - A Contemporary Look at Zeno's Paradoxes"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

COMMENT: From Space, Time, and Motion

"Shoemaker (Sydney) - Personal Identity: a Materialist Account"

Source: Shoemaker & Swinburne - Personal Identity, 1984, pp. 67-132

  1. This essay develops ideas suggested in my earlier writings, especially:-
  2. A more remote ancestor is my book "Shoemaker (Sydney) - Self-Knowledge and Self-Identity" (1963).
  3. I am grateful to all of those, including countless students, whose criticisms, questions and comments have helped me clarify my thinking on this subject. I especially thank Carl Ginet and Alan Sidelle, for helpful comments on my contributions to this volume.

  1. Introduction – 69
  2. The Concept of Identity – 71
  3. The Memory Theory – 77
  4. Objections and Revisions – 80
  5. Personal Identity as Psychological Continuity2 – 89
  6. Functionalism and Personal Identity – 92
  7. Circularity Circumvented – 98
  8. Unity of Consciousness and Self-Consciousness3 – 102
  9. Mind and Body – 106
  10. The Brain-State Transfer Device – 108
  11. Personal Identity and Animal Identity – 112
  12. The Duplication Objection – 115
  13. Survival and the Importance of Identity – 119
  14. Is Personal Identity “Simple and Unanalysable”? 122
  15. Conceptual Analysis or Factual Analysis? 126
  16. The Duplication Argument Revisited – 130

  1. From earliest times people have found intelligible, and sometimes believable, the idea that persons are capable of surviving death, either in disembodied5 form or through bodily resurrection or reincarnation. And many a piece of popular fiction relies on the idea that a person might have different bodies at different times. We are also familiar, both from fiction and from the annals of psychiatric medicine, with the idea of two or more distinct 'personalities' successively manifesting themselves in one and the same body. Yet another such idea is that two distinct minds or consciousnesses might simultaneously inhabit the same body — and recent studies of 'split-brain patients' have suggested to some investigators not only that this is conceivable but that it actually happens6. One way of raising the problem of personal identity is by asking whether, or to what extent, such ideas are coherent, and what it is about the nature of personal identity, or our concept of it, which permits, or forbids, such envisioned departures from the normal course of events.
  2. The problem of personal identity can be viewed as an aspect of the 'mind-body problem'. For a variety of reasons we are inclined to resist the view, so strongly suggested by the current scientific world view, that mental states and processes are nothing over and above certain highly complex physical and chemical processes. One reason is the 'special access' we have to our own mental states. One comes to have knowledge of these states without observing, or gathering evidence about, the physical states of one's own body; and possession of the knowledge seems compatible with total ignorance of one's own inner physiological states, and, more generally, the condition of one's body. And if one reflects on what one knows in having this self-knowledge — the existence of intentional states like believing that Argentina's inflation rate is higher than Brazil's, and qualitative states like seeing blue and having an itch — it is difficult at best to see how this could be reducible to any facts about one's behaviour or neurophysiology. Puzzlement about the nature of mental states is bound to give rise to puzzlement about the nature of persons, the pre-eminent subjects of such states. And this in turn manifests itself in puzzlement about personal identity — for a central part of understanding the nature of a kind of things (like persons) is understanding the identity conditions for things of that sort. The considerations that make it seem that mental states cannot be physical states also make it seem that persons cannot simply be physical bodies, and that personal identity must consist in something other than bodily identity.
  3. Among the things to which persons have a 'special access' are facts about their own identity over time; they have in their memory knowledge of their own past histories. One's memory-knowledge of one's own past differs strikingly from one's knowledge, including memory knowledge, of the past histories of other persons. If I claim to remember you doing something yesterday, it is at least a theoretical possibility that my claim is in error, not because my memory is mistaken, but because the person I remember doing that thing is not you but someone who looks just like you and whom I have misidentified as you. But if I claim to remember that I did such-and-such yesterday, it is absurd to suppose that I could be mistaken in that way. And whatever may be said of my judgements about the identity of others, it is certainly not the case that I ground such judgements about myself on evidence of bodily identity. Here again the nature of self-knowledge raises questions about personal identity, in part by calling into question the natural view that the identity of a person is simply the identity of a living human body.
  4. A rather different source of perplexity about personal identity has to do with the special concern persons have for their own continued existence and their own future welfare. Imagine that a wizard demonstrates to you his ability to reduce any object to a pile of dust by a wave of his wand and then, with another wave, to create an exact duplicate of that thing out of another pile of dust. If one really believes that he can do this, one probably would not be too averse to letting him do it to one's kitchen stove. But only a monster would offer his wife or child as a subject for the wizard's trick, and only a madman (or a suicide) would offer himself. Or so it initially strikes us. Our concern for personal identity, the kind of importance it has for us seems totally different in kind from the concern we have for the identity of other sorts of things. And this is linked to the special concern each person has for his or her own future welfare. It is this that gives point to many of our moral, social and legal practices, and explains the significance they attach to considerations of personal identity. If a person does an action, it is that same person who can later be held responsible for the action, and whom it is appropriate to punish or reward for doing it. If someone buys something, it is that person who is subsequently entitled to the use of the item purchased. These principles, which are constitutive of the institutions of punishment and property and the concept of moral responsibility, are intelligible only against the background of a conception of human motivation in which a central role is played by the special concern each person has for his own future well-being.
  5. An account of personal identity ought to make intelligible the knowledge we have of personal identity, including the special access each of us has, in memory, to his own identity, and it ought to make intelligible the special sort of importance personal identity has for us. It ought also to cohere with the rest of what we know about the world. In my own view, this last requirement means that an account of personal identity ought to be compatible with a naturalistic, or materialistic, account of mind. To a large extent, the mind-body problem, including the problem of personal identity, arises because of considerations that create the appearance that no naturalistic account could be true; and I think that solving the problem has got to consist in large part in dispelling that appearance (while acknowledging and explaining the facts that give rise to it). Finally, our account of personal identity must be compatible with the logical principles that govern the notion of identity itself. It is to these that we now turn.

COMMENT: Also excerpted in "Van Inwagen (Peter) & Zimmerman (Dean) - Metaphysics: The Big Questions".

In-Page Footnotes ("Shoemaker (Sydney) - Personal Identity: a Materialist Account")

Footnote 1: This is the Acknowledgements section, p. 68.

Footnote 4: Full Text, ie. pp. 69-71.

Footnote 6: See "Nagel (Thomas) - Brain Bisection and the Unity of Consciousness", 1979.

"Smart (J.C.C.) - The Space-Time World"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions


"Sosa (Ernest) - Addendum to 'Nonabsolute Existence and Conceptual Relativity': Objections and Replies"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

"Sosa (Ernest) - Nonabsolute Existence and Conceptual Relativity"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

COMMENT: From "Putnam's Pragmatic Realism"

"Stebbing (L. Susan) - Causality"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

"Swinburne (Richard) - Personal Identity: The Dualist Theory"

Source: Shoemaker & Swinburne - Personal Identity, 1984, pp. 1-66
Write-up Note1

  1. Empiricist Theories
  2. The Dualist Theory
  3. Dualism and Verifiability
  4. The Evidence of Personal Identity

COMMENT: Also excerpted in "Van Inwagen (Peter) & Zimmerman (Dean) - Metaphysics: The Big Questions".

"Swinburne (Richard) - Response to Derek Parfit"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

COMMENT: The Puzzle of Reality: Why Does the Universe Exist?

"Van Cleve (James) - Incongruent Counterparts and Higher Dimensions"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

"Van Inwagen (Peter) - The Mystery of Metaphysical Freedom"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

"Williams (Donald C.) - The Elements of Being"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

COMMENT: This is an excerpted combination of "Williams (Donald C.) - On the Elements of Being: I" and "Williams (Donald C.) - On the Elements of Being: II". If might therefore be worth reading before either of the full papers.

"Witt (Charlotte) - Metaphysics and Feminist Theory"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

COMMENT: From "Feminist Metaphysics" and "Anti-Essentialism in Feminist Theory"

"Zimmerman (Dean) - Distinct Indiscernibles and the Bundle Theory"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions


"Zimmerman (Dean) - Temporary Intrinsics and Presentism"

Source: Van Inwagen & Zimmerman - Metaphysics: The Big Questions

Author’s Introduction
    David Lewis develops something like an antinomy concerning change which he calls “the problem of temporary intrinsics”1. The resolution of this puzzle provides his primary motivation for the acceptance of a metaphysics of temporal parts. Lewis’s own discussion is extremely compressed, showing up as a digression in a book about modality2. So I shall set forth in some detail what I take to be his line of reasoning before suggesting that, at least for those philosophers who take seriously the distinction between past, present, and future, the argument poses no special threat.

  1. The Structure of Lewis’s Argument
  2. Serious Tensers and Presentists
  3. Why Does Lewis Reject Presentism?
  4. Postscript (20053): Can One “Take Tense Seriously” and Be a B-Theorist?
  5. B-Theorists and B-Theorists
  6. What it Means to “Take Tense Seriously”
  7. Tensed and “Tenseless” Verbs
  8. De-tensing Strategies and Their Problems
  9. The Metaphysics of Propositions and Nonrelative Temporary Truth
  10. Consequences for the Arguments of “Temporary Intrinsics4 and Presentism”

COMMENT: Also - with an extensive Postscript (2005; "Zimmerman (Dean) - Can One “Take Tense Seriously” and Be a B-theorist?") in "Haslanger (Sally) & Kurtz (Roxanne), Eds. - Persistence : Contemporary Readings".

In-Page Footnotes ("Zimmerman (Dean) - Temporary Intrinsics and Presentism")

Footnote 3: This Postcript – and the following sections – was added to make up the version in "Haslanger (Sally) & Kurtz (Roxanne), Eds. - Persistence : Contemporary Readings", which is consequently much longer than that in "Van Inwagen (Peter) & Zimmerman (Dean) - Metaphysics: The Big Questions".

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2019
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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