Noonan (Harold), Ed.
This Page provides (where held) the Abstract of the above Book and those of all the Papers contained in it.
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Book Depository Description
    This philosophical work on identity encompasses material on the counterparts of persons and their bodies, contingent identity1, vague objects, properties and causality2, Chisholm's paradox, and mereological essentialism and conjunctivism.

"Butterfield (Jeremy) - Spatial and Temporal Parts"

Source: Philosophical Quarterly Jan 1985; 35.138, pp. 32-44

Philosophers Index Abstract
    Authors who believe the present is an epistemological notion reflecting our limited access to a temporally extended reality have traditionally held that objects have temporal as well as spatial parts; e.g., Russell, Quine, Smart. I argue that we can agree with this view of the present, but reject temporal parts. The argument also reveals some disanalogies between spatial and temporal parts; and enables us to explain a time-space disanalogy described by Dummett.

COMMENT: Also in "Noonan (Harold), Ed. - Identity".

"Chisholm (Roderick) - Parts As Essential To Their Wholes"

Source: Chisholm - On Metaphysics, Chapter 7

Philosophers Index Abstract
  1. The paper is a defence of "the principle of mereological essentialism1".
  2. The principle may be formulated by saying: "for any whole x, if x has a certain thing y as one of its parts, then y as part of x in every possible world in which x exists."
  3. The principle is defended against such objections as "but some things survive the less of some of their parts" and "some things are such that they could have had parts other than the ones they do have."
  4. In the course of the defence, a distinction is made between 'primary objects' and 'non-primary objects'.
  5. It is contended that whatever can be truly said about the unrealized possibilities of non-primary objects (such things as might be designated by "my automobile") can be formulated more precisely by reference to the unrealized possibilities of primary objects.
  6. It is argued that the above points throw light, not only upon the theory of possibility, but also upon a number of other fundamental metaphysical problems.


"Evans (Gareth) - Can There Be Vague Objects?"

Source: Analysis, Vol. 38, No. 4 (Oct., 1978), p. 208

COMMENT: Also in "Noonan (Harold), Ed. - Identity".

"Forbes (Graeme) - Is There a Problem About Persistence?"

Source: Haslanger (Sally) & Kurtz (Roxanne) - Persistence : Contemporary Readings

Philosophers Index Abstract
    This paper responds to the arguments of Mark Johnston (in "Johnston (Mark) - Is There a Problem About Persistence?") in the same symposium that the familiar philosophical debate about identity through time rests on misconceptions. I argue against both Johnston's position and that of David Lewis.
    My conclusion is that the conception of an enduring thing is not something that belongs to a particular theoretical apparatus for analysing tensed discourse about persistents. Rather, it is a conception native to that discourse. The stage-theorist who holds that his ontology is the basic one must therefore show that the language with tenses eliminated by quantifiers over times is primary with respect to tensed language. But the question of what would settle the operator-quantifier contest in this area appears as difficult to me as does its modal1 cousin


"Forbes (Graeme) - Two Solutions To Chisholm's Paradox"

Philosophers Index Abstract
    Chisholm's paradox is that one plausible modal1 principle implies that certain changes in an artifact yield a different artifact, but another equally plausible principle says the changes preserve identity. Such paradoxes may be assimilated to classical sorites2 paradoxes, and a resolution transported from the classical to the modal3 case by introducing either a many-valued accessibility relation or a many-valued counterpart relation. The paper argues against the former solution, and for the latter.

COMMENT: From "Noonan (Harold), Ed. - Identity".

"Garrett (Brian) - Vague Identity and Vague Objects"

Source: Nous 25.2, July 1991, pp. 341-351

Author’s Abstract
  1. In this paper, I want to argue – with certain qualifications – that there cannot be any vague identities, and to outline reasons for scepticism about the view that the world contains vague objects.
  2. I also argue that, even if there were vague identities, this would lend no support to the vague-objects view.

COMMENT: Also in "Noonan (Harold), Ed. - Identity"

"Gibbard (Allan) - Contingent Identity"

Source: Rea - Material Constitution - A Reader
Write-up Note1 (Full Text reproduced below).

Philosophers Index Abstract
  1. Identities formed with proper names may be contingent. This claim is made first through an example.
  2. The paper then develops a theory of the semantics of concrete things, with contingent identity2 as a consequence.
  3. This general theory lets concrete things be made up canonically from fundamental physical entities.
  4. It includes theories of proper names, variables, cross-world identity with respect to a sortal3, and modal4 and dispositional properties.
  5. The theory, it is argued, is coherent and superior to its rivals, in that it stems naturally from a systematic picture of the physical world.


Write-up5 (as at 04/04/2015 00:17:17): Gibbard - Contingent Identity

This note provides my detailed review of "Gibbard (Allan) - Contingent Identity".

Currently, this write-up is only available as a PDF. For a précis, click File Note (PDF). It is my intention to convert this to Note format shortly.

… Further details to be supplied6

In-Page Footnotes ("Gibbard (Allan) - Contingent Identity")

Footnote 5:
  • This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (04/04/2015 00:17:17).
  • Link to Latest Write-Up Note.

"Hughes (Christopher) - Is a Thing Just the Sum of Its Parts"

Source: Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, New Series, Vol. 86 (1985 - 1986), pp. 213-233

Author’s Introduction
  1. In what follows, I shall defend the view that a (composite) physical object is just the mereological sum of its parts. I do not claim that the aggregative conception of physical objects I favor is the sole defensible one, only that it is at least as attractive as its competitors.
  2. My focus will be an argument to the effect that an aggregative conception of physical objects is untenable. That argument goes like this:
      A sortally1 individuated composite thing (say, Lake Cayuga) is a trans-world continuant, which exists at a number of times, and in a number of different possible worlds, and is composed of different parts at different times and in different worlds. An aggregate is a trans-world continuant of another sort, which is composed of exactly the same parts at all of the times, and in all of the worlds in which it exists. Hence a sortally2 individuated composite physical object (like Lake Cayuga) is not the same as the aggregate of its parts.
    Because arguments of this kind are found so often in the literature, I shall call the above argument the standard argument, and its conclusion the standard view (on the relation of sortally3 individuated continuants to aggregates). The standard argument relies on a conception of sortally4 individuated composita as genuine trans-world continuants, and I shall try to show that it is better not to think of sortally5 individuated composita in this way. If we do not, I shall argue, the case against identifying physical objects with the aggregate of their parts looks quite weak.
  3. The standard argument splits up into two arguments against identifying sortally6 individuated composita with aggregates: the argument from existence at different times, and the argument from existence in different worlds. The former exploits the fact that - if we are thinking of aggregates as mereological aggregates of ordinary (micro) continuants - a sortally7 individuated continuant will almost invariably fail to have the same world line as any aggregate. There are various ways of trying to maintain in the face of this argument that sortally8 individuated continuants are aggregates of ordinary (micro) continuants. I don't think any are promising; but considerations of space prevent me from considering their merits here. The best response to the argument from existence at different times is to concede it a limited victory: it shows that sortally9 individuated continuants are not aggregates whose parts are ordinary continuants. To say this, however, is not to accept the standard view. For it might be that physical objects are mereological aggregates, but not aggregates of continuants. Or it might be that composite physical objects are aggregates of continuants, and that lakes, statues10, and the like aren't identical to any physical object. I shall have something to say about each of these options later; but first I shall consider an argument purporting to show that a sortally11 individuated continuant can be distinct from an aggregate, even if the continuant and the aggregate share a world line.

COMMENT: From "Noonan (Harold), Ed. - Identity".

"Johnston (Mark) - Is There a Problem About Persistence?"

Source: Haslanger (Sally) & Kurtz (Roxanne) - Persistence : Contemporary Readings

  1. Johnston starts by considering "Quine (W.V.) - Identity, Ostension, and Hypostasis", commenting
    • Quine introduces the problem of identity over time in this way: '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?" Quine goes on to mention Heraclitus's allegedly parallel problem regarding rivers – how can you step in the same river twice if new waters are ever flowing upon you?
    • The real problem here is not the problem these questions pose but the problem of exhibiting and justifying some philosophical problematic which explains why we should not rest content with the most obvious and dismissive answers to these questions, e.g. 'It is just of the nature of persisting human beings and rivers that they are constituted by different matter at different times, not wholly and abruptly different matter of course, but not too different matter as between not too distant times'. Quine's questions seem answerable by such humdrum empirical observations. How can they be the occasion for high theory?
  2. He also considers "Quine (W.V.) - Worlds Away".
  3. He states his aim in the paper as
      Here I wish to argue that the Humean worry about persistence through change is bogus, that any doctrine of temporal stages tailored to provide a response to this worry is unattractive and that although we can generate distinct substantive metaphysical models of persistence through change our practice of reidentifying objects through change does not itself embody a commitment to any one of these.
  4. At the start of Section II, Johnston quotes a substantial portion of "Lewis (David) - On the Plurality of Worlds (Selections)" - most of the first paragraph, and the final 5 paragraphs, including the trilemma at the end. He treats Lewis as the contemporary exponent of the Humean view.


"Lewis (David) - Counterparts of Persons and Their Bodies"

Source: Lewis - Philosophical Papers Volume I, Part 1: Ontology, Chapter 4

Ingenta Abstract
  1. The possibility of a person switching bodies presents a challenge to Lewis's conviction that necessarily, a person occupies a body at a time if and only if that person is identical with that body at that time.
  2. In order to meet this challenge, Lewis modifies his counterpart theory to allow for multiple counterpart relations (e.g., one's personal counterpart, one's bodily counterpart).
  3. The wider significance of this modification lies in the general scheme it offers for translating any modal1 predication in which referential transparency fails (because the sense of the subject term is used in a way that extends beyond a determination of its denotation) into sentences of counterpart theory with multiple counterpart relations.


"Lewis (David) - Rearrangement of Particles: Reply to Lowe"

Source: Analysis 48, 1988, pp. 65-72

  1. Ordinary things, for instance we ourselves, undeniably persist through time. As we persist, we change. And not just in extrinsic ways, as when a child was born elsewhere and I became an uncle. We also change in our own intrinsic character, in the way we ourselves are, apart from our relationships to anything else. When I sit I'm bent, when I stand I'm straight. When I change my shape, that isn't a matter of my changing relationship to other things, or my relationship to other changing things. I do the changing, all by myself. Or so it seems. What happens must be possible. But how? Nothing can have the two incompatible shapes, bent and straight. How does having them at different times help? In "Lewis (David) - On the Plurality of Worlds" (Blackwell, 1986; henceforth PoW), p. 204, I listed three solutions, and said that only the third was tenable.
  2. The first solution is that the 'properties' are really relations to times. That lets us say that things persist by enduring, the one thing is present at different times; and not mere temporal parts of it, different parts at different times, but all of it, wholly present at each of the times. The whole of me stands in the bent-at relation to some times and the straight-at relation to others. I complained that shapes are properties, not relations. No doubt a friend of the first solution will draw a distinction that he will call the distinction between matters of one's own intrinsic character and matters of one's relationships: having a shape will go on one side, being an uncle on the other. But call it what he will, his account reveals that really he treats shape, no less than unclehood, as a matter of relations. In this account, nothing just has a shape simpliciter. The temporary 'intrinsic properties' of things, so understood, do not deserve the name. This solution amounts to a denial that things really do have temporary intrinsics1, and therefore is untenable.'
  3. The second solution says that there is only one genuine time, the present. Intrinsic properties are genuine properties, and a thing can have them simpliciter, without regard to any relationships to anything else. However, the only intrinsic properties it has simpliciter are the properties it has now. What passes for persistence and change, on this solution, does not really involve other times. Rather, there are 'abstract' ersatz times, to go with the one 'concrete' genuine time. These represent, or misrepresent, the present. If I am bent now, and straight later, there is an abstract misrepresentation of the present according to which I am straight. 'Persistence' and 'change', so understood, do not deserve their names. This solution amounts to a denial of persistence and change, and therefore is untenable.
  4. The third solution, the tenable one, is that incompatible temporary intrinsic properties do not all belong to the same thing. A persisting thing perdures. It consists of temporal parts, or stages, different ones at different times, which differ in their intrinsic properties. When I sit and then stand, bent stages are followed by straight stages. Each stage has its shape simpliciter. Shape is truly intrinsic.
  5. [… snip …]
  6. In his "Lowe (E.J.) - Lewis on Perdurance Versus Endurance" (Analysis 47.3, June 1987, pp. 152-54), E. J. Lowe agrees that we need a solution, and joins me in rejecting the first and second solutions. But he rejects the third solution as well. He finds it 'scarcely intelligible' to say that things like people or puddles, as opposed to events or processes, have temporal parts. I disagree; but won't repeat here what I have said elsewhere about the intelligibility of temporal parts.- Lowe does find perdurance intelligible enough to be denied, and deny it he does. After rejecting all three solutions, Lowe is urgently in need of a fourth.
  7. [… snip …]
  8. Here is Lowe's fourth solution. Science teaches that things consist of particles. A change of shape for the thing, for instance for me when I sit and then stand, is a rearrangement of its particles. (Likewise for other intrinsic changes, for instance in my temperature or neural activity.) When the particles are rearranged, they undergo a change in their relations to one another; but no change in their intrinsic properties. In fact, it seems likely that fundamental particles never change their intrinsic properties. An electron or a quark has a certain charge, rest mass, and so on; all constant, from the creation of the particle to its destruction, no matter how the particle may move around and change its relations to other particles. There is no problem of intrinsic change for particles, if they have no temporary intrinsics2. Particles, at least, may safely be supposed to endure; and larger things consist of these enduring particles, undergoing rearrangement but no intrinsic change.


"Lewis (David) - Vague Identity: Evans Misunderstood"

Source: Analysis, Vol. 48, No. 3 (Jun., 1988), pp. 128-130

COMMENT: Also in "Noonan (Harold), Ed. - Identity"

"Lowe (E.J.) - Lewis on Perdurance Versus Endurance"

Source: Analysis 47, 1987, pp. 152-154

COMMENT: From "Noonan (Harold), Ed. - Identity". See Link.

"Lowe (E.J.) - What Is a Criterion Of Identity?"

Source: Philosophical Quarterly 39.154, Jan. 1989, pp. 1-21

Philosophers Index Abstract
  1. I raise two main questions.
    • First, in stating a criterion of identity for individuals of a given sort, is it legitimate to quantify over a domain including individuals "of that sort"?
    • Second, must it be that criteria of identity for some sorts of individuals can be stated without reference to, or quantification over, individuals "of any sort"?
  2. My answers are 'yes' and 'no' respectively. In arriving at them I discuss the views of Frege, Davidson, and Dummett.

Author’s Introduction
  1. The lament is sometimes heard that, while the phrase 'criterion of identity' is frequently used in contemporary philosophical writings, rarely is any attempt made to spell out its intended meaning at all precisely. There also seems to be a suspicious dearth of specific examples of such criteria in the literature.
  2. Since I consider the notion of a criterion of identity to be a vitally important one both for the philosophy of language and for metaphysics, I have taken it upon myself to try to dispel some of the obscurity and to allay some of the suspicions that beset this subject.
  3. Two particularly important issues that I shall address are these:
    • first, in stating a criterion of identity for individuals of a given sort, is it legitimate to quantify over a domain including precisely individuals of that sort (i.e. are 'impredicative' criteria of identity acceptable)?
    • And second, must it be the case that criteria of identity for at least some sorts of individuals can be stated, at least in principle, in terms which involve neither reference to, nor quantification over, individuals of any sort (because such criteria actually underpin our most primitive acts of reference to individuals, i.e. ground our very understanding of individuality and reference)?
  4. My answers to these questions will be 'yes' and 'no' respectively

COMMENT: Also in "Noonan (Harold), Ed. - Identity"

"Noonan (Harold) - Identity: Introduction"

Source: Noonan - Identity

Author’s Introduction
  1. In recent years the topic of identity has been a focus of great debate in the philosophical community. Various interrelated problems have been at the centre of the discussion, but it is fair to say that recent work has concentrated particularly on the following areas:
    • (i) the notion of a criterion of identity;
    • (ii) the disagreement between advocates of perdurance and advocates of endurance as analyses of identity over time;
    • (iii) the idea of identity across possible worlds and the question of its relevance to the correct analysis of de re modal1 discourse;
    • (iv) the notion of contingent identity2; and
    • (v) the notion of vague identity.
  2. The papers in this volume, chosen both for the significance of their contributions to the debates on these issues and for their clarity in presentation, have been drawn from journal articles published over the last 20 years. They indicate very clearly the progress of the debates up to the present day and constitute an indispensable starting point for further work in these respective areas.

  1. Introduction
  2. Criteria of Identity
  3. Perdurance Versus Endurance
  4. Identity Across Possible Worlds
  5. Contingent Identity4
  6. Vague Identity

COMMENT: Photocopy filed in "Various - Papers on Identity Boxes: Vol 12 (N-O)".

In-Page Footnotes ("Noonan (Harold) - Identity: Introduction")

Footnote 3: The references are those specifically mentioned in the Introduction.

"Noonan (Harold) - Indeterminate Identity, Contingent Identity and Abelardian Predicates"

Source: Philosophical Quarterly 41.163, Apr. 1991, pp. 183-193

Philosophers Index Abstract
  1. The paper discusses Evans' argument against vague identity1.
  2. It argues that the argument is a good one but that an apparently parallel argument against contingent identity2 is not.
  3. The difference is argued to be due to the fact that modal3 predicates are inconstant in denotation - such predicates are dubbed Abelardian.

COMMENT: Also in "Noonan (Harold), Ed. - Identity".

"Noonan (Harold), Ed. - Identity"

Source: Noonan (Harold), Ed. - Identity

"Quine (W.V.) - Worlds Away"

Source: Journal of Philosophy 73.22, Dec. 1976, pp. 859-863

COMMENT: Also in "Noonan (Harold), Ed. - Identity".

"Robinson (Denis) - Can Amoebae Divide Without Multiplying?"

Source: Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 63.3, Sept. 1985, 299-319

Author’s Introduction
  1. Actual or possible cases of fission present well-known problems for philosophers of identity. I canvas here a view of such cases which seems often to be overlooked or underrated. For ease of reference, let me christen it 'the multiple occupancy view': henceforth, 'the m.o. view'. What I say is relevant to recent debates about personal identity, but the problems it bears on are not only those concerning minds, brains, bodies, and personal continuity. So to avoid complications connected with those topics, I outline the m.o. view as it bears on the case of amoebic fission.
  2. The m.o. view asserts the a priori possibility (and philosophical feasibility) of analyses of a certain sort ('m.o. analyses') of fission cases. (The reader must bear with a few pages of scene-setting before being told the actual content of such analyses.) Whether m.o. analyses are actually true of cases of amoebic or any other sort of fission is, I concede, an a posteriori matter. In part I defend the m.o. view by answering specific, detailed a priori objections to m.o. analyses, but my main aim is to combat what David Lewis refers to as 'the incredulous stare'.
  3. Good ways of defending one's position against the incredulous stare include:
    • Showing how it can find a natural home within a more general, independently motivated framework;
    • Showing how apparently paradoxical consequences either fail to follow from it, or fail to be paradoxical; and
    • Showing the price one pays for avoiding it.
    All these strategies figure below. As 'general, independently motivated framework' I take for illustration a plausible subset of the ideas of David Wiggins1. I try to show how the m.o. view could find a natural home amongst these ideas, how they assist in distinguishing benign from supposed paradoxical consequences of that view, and the price Wiggins pays for his rejection of it. The interest of defending the m.o. view within this framework lies not only in the importance and influence of Wiggin's ideas, but also in the prima facie inhospitability of those ideas to m.o. analyses. Certainly Wiggins offers a vehement a priori rejection of the m.o. view.
  4. All this entails a fair amount of Wiggins exegesis. Perhaps 'exegesis' is too strong a word. I aim to present a general framework of ideas which I find coherent and plausible, and which are close to Wiggins's in certain respects.
  5. The m.o. view, as canvassed below, is not my first choice amongst approaches to fission cases. I prefer the four-dimensionalist account (itself an m.o. analysis) presented with exemplary clarity by "Lewis (David) - Survival and Identity". But many philosophers, Wiggins amongst them, would see that treatment as condemned by its four-dimensionalist commitments alone. My aim here is to show that one can jettison those commitments and still be left with distinctive ideas about the particular problem of fission, which one can motivate within e.g. an important subset of Wiggins's general ideas about identity. It is the possibility of detaching the four-dimensionalist commitments from Lewis's treatment and still having a proposal worth taking seriously, which seems to me to have been largely overlooked2.
  6. What of 'relative identity3'? I say nothing of it, but what follows lends support (welcome or not) to Wiggins's anti-relativist crusade. Certain purported cases of 'relative identity4' could also be called cases of 'asymmetric fission'. The superiority, over relative identity5 treatments, of the Wiggins treatment of these cases is shown by the fact (unrecognised by Wiggins) that it can be extended to symmetric fission cases, whereas relativist treatments cannot. The result of such extension is just Lewis's position, shorn of its four-dimensionalist commitments.

COMMENT: From "Noonan (Harold), Ed. - Identity".

In-Page Footnotes ("Robinson (Denis) - Can Amoebae Divide Without Multiplying?")

Footnote 1: In "Wiggins (David) - Sameness and Substance".

Footnote 2:
  • Not that nothing is lost by eschewing four-dimensionalism.
  • First, one loses ease of exposition. Lewis clarifies his position greatly by comparing what he calls 'the R-relation' and 'the I-relation', but the terms of these relations are 'stages', i.e. temporal parts, so I cannot appeal to them. This accounts for some of the complexity of what follows.
  • More importantly, one loses the possibility of an illuminating metaphysical analysis of the constitution relation (which figures crucially below) in terms of (four-dimensional) part-whole relations.

"Robinson (Denis) - Matter, Motion and Humean Supervenience"

Source: Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Volume 67, Number 4, December 1989, pp. 394-409(16)

Author’s Introduction
  1. This paper examines a doctrine which David Lewis has called 'Humean supervenience1' (hereafter 'HS'), and a problem which certain imaginary cases seem to generate for HS.
  2. They include rotating perfect spheres or discs, and flowing rivers, imagined as composed of matter which is perfectly homogeneous right down to the individual points.
  3. Before considering these examples, I shall introduce the doctrine they seem to challenge.

  1. Introduction
  2. Humean Supervenience2
  3. Material Motion
  4. HS and Homogeneous Material Motion
  5. Humean Supervenience3 as Contingent
  6. Identity as Supervenient on Causal Relations
  7. Kripke and Lewis on the Homogeneous Disc
  8. Can Qualities be Vectors?
  9. Parallel Difficulties for Actual-World Humean Supervenience4?

COMMENT: From "Noonan (Harold), Ed. - Identity".

"Robinson (Denis) - Re-Identifying Matter"

Source: Philosophical Review, Vol. 91, No. 3, Jul., 1982, pp. 317-341

Author's Introduction
  1. In this paper I wish to investigate our conception of matter as reidentifiable or traceable, by way of examining the connections of that conception with our conception of matter as impenetrable – the idea that, if some matter is present at a particular point of space, other matter is excluded from being simultaneously present at just that point. I will arrive at a position akin to those treating diachronic identity for material entities in terms of spatio-temporal continuity together with appropriate causal relations between successive stages of those entities. But this theme will be varied appropriately to a consideration of matter itself, rather than material objects, conceived as reidentifiable.
  2. I shall speak of those material entities whose persistence is contingent on relative continuity of form as material objects. Persistence of matter is not generally contingent on continuity of form. It follows that reidentifiability of matter is not to be understood simply in terms of the criteria for persistence of material objects. Following recent writers I shall take it that reidentification of matter can be viewed as reidentification of material entities, referred to as quantities, which are not generally identical with material objects.
  3. Our language is rich in resources for direct identifying reference to material objects, but poor in resources for such reference to quantities. Identifying reference to the latter must normally be mediated by reference to objects. For this and other reasons any approach to the reidentifiability of matter must adopt a view of the relations between quantities and objects. The aim of Part I is to articulate a view of the relations of constitution and of identity-at-a-time which explicates those relations in a way arguably not unfaithful to the everyday concepts we wish to discuss, clarifies the issue of impenetrability, and provides a convenient framework for its examination.

COMMENT: From "Noonan (Harold), Ed. - Identity", grouped under Contingent Identity1.

"Shoemaker (Sydney) - Identity, Properties, and Causality"

Source: Shoemaker - Identity, Cause and Mind


"Stalnaker (Robert) - Counterparts and Identity"

Source: Stalnaker - Ways a World Might Be, Chapter 6

Philosopher’s Index Abstract
  1. This paper explores a different version of the counterpart theory - that the actualist can coherently combine a belief in primitive thisness1 and genuine identity across possible worlds with a version of counterpart theory that permits one to make sense of contingent identity2 and distinctness, i.e., if the claims that one thing might have been two, and that distinct things might have been identical.
  2. The thesis called haecceitism is analysed, and it is argued that this doctrine can be reconciled with a version of counterpart theory, and with the coherence of contingent identity3.
  3. The impact of this account of counterparts and identity on the abstract semantics of quantified modal logic4 is considered.

  1. Introduction
  2. Counterpart Theory
  3. Actualism and Merely Possible Individuals
  4. Haecceitism and Absolute Identity
  5. Worlds and Times
  6. Variable Binding


"Thomason (Richmond H.) - Identity and Vagueness"

Source: Philosophical Studies 43, 1982, pp. 329-32

Philosophers Index Abstract
    It has been said that identities cannot be vague. I present models in which they can be vague, and suggest that these models follow from plausible intuitions about vagueness and the logic of identity.

COMMENT: From "Noonan (Harold), Ed. - Identity".

"Thomson (Judith Jarvis) - Parthood and Identity Across Time"

Source: Haslanger (Sally) & Kurtz (Roxanne) - Persistence : Contemporary Readings

Author’s Introduction (extracts)
  1. Temporal parts have come in handy in a number of areas in philosophy.
  2. Let us take a close look at one use to which some may be inclined to want to put them.
  3. It is an attractive idea that the logic of parthood is the Leonard-Goodman Calculus of Individuals:-


"Van Cleve (James) - Mereological Essentialism, Mereological Conjunctivism, and Identity Through Time"

Source: Midwest Studies in Philosophy (Vol XI) - Studies in Essentialism

Author’s Abstract
  1. Mereological essentialism is the doctrine that no whole can change its parts;
  2. Mereological conjunctivism is the doctrine that any two objects form a whole.
  3. In what follows I shall say something about how the two doctrines are related, defend at least a limited version of each, and draw morals for the problem of identity through time.


"Van Inwagen (Peter) - Four-Dimensional Objects"

Source: Haslanger (Sally) & Kurtz (Roxanne) - Persistence : Contemporary Readings

Author’s Introduction
  1. It is sometimes said that there are two theories of identity across time. First, there is "three-dimensionalism," according to which persisting objects are extended in the three spatial dimensions and have no other kind of extent and persist by "enduring through time" (whatever exactly that means). Secondly, there is "four-dimensionalism," according to which persisting objects are extended not only in the three spatial dimensions, but also in a fourth, temporal, dimension, and persist simply by being temporally extended.
  2. In this paper, I shall argue that there are not two but three possible theories of identity across time, and I shall endorse one of them, a theory that may, as a first approximation, be identified with what I have called "three-dimensionalism." I shall present these three theories as theories about the ways in which our names for persisting objects are related to the occupants (or the alleged occupants) of certain regions of spacetime.


"Van Inwagen (Peter) - How To Reason About Vague Objects"

Source: Noûs, Vol. 20, No. 1, 1986 A. P. A. Central Division Meetings (Mar., 1986), pp. 72-73

COMMENT: From "Noonan (Harold), Ed. - Identity".

"Williamson (Timothy) - Criteria of Identity and the Axiom Of Choice"

Source: Journal of Philosophy 83.7, July 1986, pp. 380-394

Philosophers Index Abstract
  1. Sometimes, a proposed criterion of identity S – eg. for qualia or persons – is formally ineligible because non-transitive. Nevertheless, the criterion of identity might be that equivalence relation which "best approximates" S.
  2. The assumption that if S is necessary (hence not sufficient) for identity then some equivalence relation best approximates S is equivalent to the axiom of choice.
  3. Since such best approximations are never unique, a kind of indeterminacy results.

Author’s Introduction
  1. At times, even the best philosophical theories must resort to Procrustean techniques. A frequent occasion is the attempt to confer respectability on some class of entities by giving them that obscure privilege, a "criterion of identity'.
  2. For such a thing is, minimally, a relation that meets certain formal constraints, which the only obvious candidate may fail: it must be hacked into the shape appropriate to a criterion of identity, if the search for one is not to be given up altogether.
  3. Many theories of personal identity face such problems, whose logical structure this paper analyzes and generalizes.

COMMENT: Also in "Noonan (Harold), Ed. - Identity"

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