Persistence : Contemporary Readings
Haslanger (Sally) & Kurtz (Roxanne), Eds.
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 ABSTRACT:

Cover Blurb

  1. How does an object persist through change? How can a book, for example, open in the morning and shut in the afternoon, persist through a change that involves the incompatible properties of being open and being shut? The goal of this reader is to inform and reframe the philosophical debate around persistence; it presents influential accounts of the problem that range from classic papers by W. V. O. Quine, David Lewis, and Judith Jarvis Thomson to recent work by contemporary philosophers.
  2. The authors take on the question of persistence by examining three broad approaches: perdurantism, which holds that change over time is analogous to change over space; exdurantism1, according to which identity over time is analogous to identity across possible worlds; and endurantism2, which holds that ordinary objects persist by enduring. Each of these approaches appears to be coherent, but each also has its own metaphysical problems.
  3. Persistence includes papers that argue for perdurantism, exdurantism3, or endurantism4, as well as papers that explore some metaphysical difficulties challenging each account. In this way the collection allows readers to balance the trade-offs of each approach in terms of intuitiveness, theoretical attractiveness, and elegance.

Contents
    Introduction: What’s the Problem? - Roxanne Marie Kurtz
  1. Metaphysics of Temporal Parts
    1. Perdurance
      1. Identity, Ostension, and Hypostasis (1950) - Willard Van Orman Quine
      2. Spatial and Temporal Analogies and the Concept of Identity (1955) - Richard Taylor
      3. Selection from On the Plurality of Worlds (1986) - David Lewis
      4. Four-Dimensionalism (1997) - Theodore Sider
    2. Exdurance5 (or Stage Theory6)
      1. All the World's a Stage (1996) - Theodore Sider
      2. Selections from How Things Persist (2002) - Katherine Hawley
  2. Problems for Temporal Parts Approaches to Persistence
    1. Uniting Many into One
      1. Parthood and Identity across Time (1983) - Judith Jarvis Thomson
      2. Persistence, Change, and Explanation (1989) - Sally Haslanger
    2. Motion and the Spinning Sphere
      1. Zimmerman and the Spinning Sphere (1999) - David Lewis
      2. One Really Big Liquid Sphere: Reply to Lewis (1999) - Dean W. Zimmerman
      3. Persistence and Non-supervenient Relations (1999) - Ellis W. Hawley
  3. Metaphysics of Enduring Things
    1. Endurance7: Eternalist Approaches
      1. Four-dimensional Objects (1990) - Peter van Inwagen
      2. Selections from Real Time (1981) - Hugh Mellor
      3. Is There a Problem about Persistence? (1987) - Mark Johnston
      4. Is There a Problem about Persistence? (1987) - Graeme Forbes
    2. Endurance8: Presentist Approaches
      1. The Puzzle of Change (1996) - Mark Hinchliff
      2. A Defense of Presentism (2004) - Ned Markosian
      3. On Passage and Persistence (1994) - William R. Carter and H. Scott Hestevold
      4. Presentism and Ontological Commitment (1999) - Theodore Sider
      5. Temporary Intrinsics9 and Presentism (1998) - Dean W. Zimmerman
  4. Problems for Endurance10
    1. Temporary Intrinsics11
      1. Tensing the Copula (2002) - David Lewis
      2. The Stage View and Temporary Intrinsics12 (2000) - Theodore Sider
    2. Special Relativity
      1. Persistence and Space-Time: Philosophical Lessons of the Pole and Barn (2000) - Yuri Balashov

BOOK COMMENT:

Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006



"Balashov (Yuri) - Persistence and Space-Time: Philosophical Lessons of the Pole and Barn"

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


Philosopher’s Index Abstract
  1. Reformulates the rival positions in the debate about persistence and their significance in the framework of special relativistic space-time theories.
  2. Definition of persistence;
  3. Explanatory advantages of perdurantism over endurantism1;
  4. Two major rival theories of persistence;
  5. Implications of contemporary physical theories for the philosophy of time.


COMMENT:



"Carter (William) & Hestevold (H. Scott) - On Passage and Persistence"

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


Author’s Introduction
  1. The nature of time is closely linked to the nature of temporal persistence. The dispute about the nature of time is a dispute about whether objects and events can undergo "temporal becoming" from the future to the present and into the past, and the controversy about temporal persistence is a dispute about whether an entity can wholly exist at different times. The claim to be defended in this essay is that one's solution to either of these controversies should dictate one's solution to the other.
  2. Certainly this theme is much in the air:
    • Temporal parts and tenseless existence usually come together in a package deal...
      … (James Van Cleve 1986,155).
    • If you think of time as space-like, then you will think of continuant individuals – persons and physical objects – as extended through time in the same way that they are extended through space. We are the same as our histories. Only a part of you exists now; other temporal parts are past, or yet to come
      … (Robert Stalnaker 1986,134).
    • Since the 4-object does not change, it cannot be subject to temporal becoming
      … (John Post 1987,147).
  3. Section I formulates the competing views of time and temporal persistence as well as the linkage theses (defended in due course) that describe the connections between views on time and views on persistence.
  4. In Section II, several arguments for the first linkage thesis – the thesis that, if things undergo temporal passage, at least some objects wholly exist at different times – are formulated and abandoned as inconclusive.
  5. Plausible arguments for the first linkage thesis are defended in Sections III and IV.
  6. Sections V and VI defend the second linkage thesis – the thesis that, if things do not undergo temporal passage, nothing can wholly exist at different times.


COMMENT:



"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.
Conclusion
    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


COMMENT:



"Haslanger (Sally) - Persistence, Change, and Explanation"

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


Philosophers Index Abstract
    Problems about persistence through change have led many to conclude that objects never genuinely alter, i.e., Never persist through the gain or loss of a property. For example, the metaphysic of temporal parts (MTP) offers one solution to these problems by taking the proper subjects of the incompatible properties to be distinct parts of a spatio-temporally extended object. I argue against the MTP by showing that it violates deeply embedded ideas we have about the basis for natural explanation, in particular the idea that the past constrains the present. I conclude that if natural change is intelligible, then the subjects of change endure.


Extract from Introduction
    In what follows I will focus on one problem, viz., whether (or how) something can gain or lose a property and persist through that gain or loss. My strategy will be in a loose sense Aristotelian. I will begin with a number of assumptions which have a significant intuitive plausibility, and I will show that there is a prima facie conflict between them. The apparent conflict among our intuitions offers the motivation to rethink the assumptions and the argument which purports to show that they are in conflict.

Sections
  1. Introduction
  2. The Problem
  3. Strategy
  4. The Metaphysic of Temporal Parts
  5. Persistence and Explanation
  6. Ex Nihilo Becoming
  7. Causal Messages and the Past
  8. Objections


COMMENT:



"Hawley (Katherine) - Persistence and Non-Supervenient Relations"

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


Philosophers Index Abstract
    I claim that, if persisting objects have temporal parts, then there are non-supervenient relations between those temporal parts. These are relations which are not determined by intrinsic properties of the temporal parts. I use the Kripke-Armstrong 'rotating homogeneous disc' argument in order to establish this claim, and in doing so I defend and develop that argument. This involves a discussion of instantaneous velocity, and of the causes and effects of rotation. Finally, I compare alternative responses to the rotating disc argument, and consider the implications of my arguments for the doctrines of Humean Supervenience1 and unrestricted mereology.


COMMENT:



"Hawley (Katherine) - Selections from 'How Things Persist'"

Source: Hawley (Katherine) - How Things Persist, 2001


This extract would appear to be made up of the following sections of Chapter 2 ("Hawley (Katherine) - Parts and Stages"). of "Hawley (Katherine) - How Things Persist":-
  1. Section 2.2 (“Stage Theory”1; apart from the end of the final paragraph),
  2. Section 2.6 (“Lingering and Historical Predicates”),
  3. Section 2.7 (“Reference and Reidentification”).


COMMENT: Excerpted from "Hawley (Katherine) - How Things Persist".



"Hinchliff (Mark) - The Puzzle of Change"

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


First and Final Paragraphs
  1. Objects can change their properties. The philosophical problem is to explain how this is possible. Each of the standard explanations denies a strong intuition we have about change. They do so because they share a view about time. But if we reject the view about time, we can solve the problem. of change in a way that preserves our intuitions.
  2. … [ .. snip …] …
  3. Of course, to have shown that presentism is not refuted by the special theory (of relativity) is not to have settled how presentism and the special theory do fit together. This is a large and difficult problem. Presentism seems to be our intuitive or commonsense conception of the nature of time. The special theory is one of our best-confirmed scientific theories of the nature of time. The question of how presentism is related to the special theory is therefore like the question of how our intuitive folk psychology is related to our best scientific theories of the nature of the mind. Proposals for understanding the relationship between our folk psychology and our best psychological theories are varied and complex, and a refutation of one proposal is not a refutation of folk psychology itself. No one believes the question about the mind to be easy to answer; my point here is that the question about time seems just as hard. Perhaps, just as an eliminativist answer to the question about the mind may turn out to be correct, so may an eliminativist answer about the nature of time, though both answers seem equally hard to accept. The question of how presentism is related to the special theory requires us to examine, carefully and critically, both the intuitions we have about time and change which are behind presentism and the metaphysical presuppositions and apparently verificationist principles which are behind the usual philosophical interpretations of the special theory. Certainly we want our physics and metaphysics to fit into a unified picture; the question for the presentist is how best to do that, a question that goes beyond the scope of this paper.
  4. The scope of the present paper is large enough: to show that there is a solution to the problem of change that preserves all of our intuitions – the presentist solution.

Sections
  1. The Puzzle of Change
  2. .The Standard Solutions
    … The Perdurance Solution
    … The Relational Solution
    … The Relativization Variant
  3. The Shared View of Time: Eternalism
  4. The Presentist Solution
  5. Does the Presentist Still Deny Persistence and Change?
  6. Does the Presentist Deny Shapes Are Properties?
  7. Is the Presentist Refuted by the Special Theory of Relativity?


COMMENT:



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

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


Comments
  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.


COMMENT:



"Kurtz (Roxanne) - Introduction to Persistence: What’s the Problem?"

Source: Haslanger (Sally) & Kurtz (Roxanne) - Persistence : Contemporary Readings
Write-up Note1

Comment
  1. For a summary of, and my thoughts on, this Paper, Click here for Note.
  2. I give below the Conclusion, which is mostly unintelligible to the non-initiate without a careful reading of the full text, which is available on-line: see Link.

Author’s Conclusion (Full Text)
  1. Issues about the metaphysics of time and tensing crosscut approaches to persistence. However, there are concerns about temporary intrinsics2 that, if legitimate, rule out endurantism3. Anti-endurantists4 have a case against endurantism5 if we accept something as strong as ATEMPORAL INSTANTIATION. That thesis is supported by Lewisian intuitions and the Bradley Regress problem. With respect to the intuitions, it is not clear that referring to times when making a claim about oneself or an object makes that claim any less about me or that object — that is, talking about times does not introduce other things in the way an ordinary relation does. With respect to the Bradley Regress, there are kinds of mediated property instantiation that are clear alternatives to the kind of relational accounts of instantiation that generate the regress. Thus the justification for ATEMPORAL INSTANTIATION proves inadequate to serve as part of a compelling argument against endurantism6. We are thus left with three accounts of persistence, each of which appears to be coherent.
  2. After considering concerns prominent in the persistence literature, we see again that the real problem of persistence remains one of balancing trade-offs. To explain how objects persist by (in some sense) having incompatible properties at different times, we must revise and/or forfeit some of our basic intuitions and theoretical commitments regarding change, nonmomentary objects, and temporary intrinsics7.
  3. Perdurantism, exdurantism8, and endurantism9 succeed in this project. Each approach explains the phenomenon of persistence without collapsing into contradiction countenancing, change nihilism10, or persistence nihilism11. However, each sacrifices something in terms of its view of change, persistence, or predication. Within perdurantist, exdurantist12, and endurantist13 frameworks, the costs and benefits in terms of intuitiveness, theoretical attractiveness, and elegance of a particular view will vary significantly. Each framework has space for views that take different stands on questions about the metaphysics of time, the logical structure of propositions, and temporary intrinsics14.


COMMENT: Copiously annotated printout filed in "Various - Papers on Identity Boxes: Vol 08 (I-K)".



"Lewis (David) - On the Plurality of Worlds (Selections)"

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


Full Text
  1. Our question of overlap of worlds parallels the this-worldly problem of identity through time; and our problem of accidental intrinsics parallels1 a problem of temporary intrinsics2, which is the traditional problem of change. Let us say that something persists iff, somehow or other, it exists at various times; this is the neutral word. Something perdures if 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 if 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 universal3, 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 not4.
  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 universals5. But here I ignore the mixed cases. And when I speak of ordinary things as perduring, I shall ignore their enduring universals6, 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 like7 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 it.
  4. Endurance through time is analogous to the alleged trans-world identity of common parts of overlapping worlds; perdurance through time is analogous to the "trans-world identity," if we may call it that, of a trans-world individual composed of distinct parts in non-overlapping worlds. Perdurance, which I favour for the temporal case, is closer to the counterpart theory which I favour for the modal8 case; the difference is that counterpart theory concentrates on the parts and ignores the trans-world individual composed of them.
  5. 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 intrinsics9. 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.
  6. (It is not a solution just to say how very commonplace and indubitable it 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.)
  7. 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 intrinsics10; 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 intrinsics11 is that there aren't any temporary intrinsics12. This is simply incredible, if we are speaking of the persistence of ordinary things. (It might do for the endurance of entelechies or universals13.) If we know what shape is, we know that it is a property, not a relation.
  8. 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.
  9. Third Solution: The different shapes, and the different temporary intrinsics14 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 intrinsics15 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:




In-Page Footnotes ("Lewis (David) - On the Plurality of Worlds (Selections)")

Footnote 1: Lewis says that he’s indebted to "Armstrong (David) - Identity Through Time" in this regard, “and to Johnston”, whose terminology he follows. The only reference to a “Johnston” in the bibliography of "Lewis (David) - On the Plurality of Worlds" is to the PhD dissertation “Particulars and Persistence” by Mark Johnston – presumably Mark Johnston.

Footnote 3: I take issue with this in a footnote to "Hawley (Katherine) - David Lewis on Persistence".

Footnote 4: It does, I think, but in different ways. Part of the perdurantist explanation of Fission (Click here for Note) involves shared stages, so two spacetime worms overlap for a period of their existence.

Footnote 7: I don’t think this analogy is helpful, or even very clear. The “darkeners” seem to have a concept of spatial parts (the bodily organs) but not temporal parts. The analogy seems to be of those who have a concept of lengthways parts (the lanes) but not of crossways parts (sections of road, most of which are outside the small village). It all seems rather forced.



"Lewis (David) - Tensing the Copula"

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


Philosophers Index Abstract
    A solution to the problem of intrinsic change for enduring things should meet three conditions. It should not replace monadic intrinsic properties by relations. It should not replace the having simpliciter of properties by standing in some relation to them (unless having them simpliciter always means standing in some relation to them, which is refuted by Bradley's regress). It should not rely on an unexplained notion of having an intrinsic property at a time. Johnston's solution satisfies the first condition at the expense of the second. Haslanger's solution satisfies the first and second at the expense of the third.


COMMENT:



"Lewis (David) - Zimmerman and the Spinning Sphere"

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


Philosophers Index Abstract
    Whether a sphere or perduring, homogeneous matter is spinning or stationary depends upon whether the causal lines that constitute the persistence of matter are straight or helical. As has been suggested by Denis Robinson, these lines might in turn be lawfully governed by a field of local vector qualities. Dean Zimmerman fears circularity: in order to specify the correct vector field, we need to suppose that the lines of persistence of matter are already given. I reply that Robinson's discussion suggests a different, noncircular way to specify the correct vector field.


COMMENT:



"Markosian (Ned) - A Defense of Presentism"

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


Philosophers Index Abstract
  1. Presentism is the view that only present objects exist. I endorse presentism, which, it seems to me, is the "common sense" view, i.e., the one that the average person on the street would accept. But there are some serious problems facing presentism. In particular, there are certain embarrassingly obvious objections to the view that are not easily gotten around.
  2. The aims of this paper are:-
    … (i) to spell out the most obvious objections that can be raised against presentism and
    … (ii) to show that these objections are not fatal to the view.


COMMENT:



"Mellor (D.H.) - Selections from 'Real Time'"

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


Comments
  1. This is an extract from "Mellor (D.H.) - Change", Chapter 7 of "Mellor (D.H.) - Real Time".
  2. It covers:-
    • pp. 103 – 107 (top) – ie. the first two sections (the Introduction and the section entitled “Things and Events”) – the first 4 pages of the chapter, followed by
    • pp. 110 (middle) – 114 (middle) – the whole of the fourth section (“Change”).
  3. The intervening section (“Changes and Properties of Things”) is omitted, as is the rest of the chapter (“Changes of Belief and the Flow of Time” and “Space and the Flow of Time”).


COMMENT:



"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.


COMMENT:



"Sider (Ted) - All the World's a Stage"

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


Philosophers Index Abstract
    Most believers in temporal parts identify persons and other continuants with aggregates of temporal parts – "space time worms". I identify them instead with the instantaneous temporal parts themselves. Fortified with a temporal version of counterpart theory, this stage theory1 of persistence over time is the account best suited to solve the philosopher's repertoire of puzzles of identity over time. The stage theorist can agree that identity and psychological continuity2 are both what matters3 in survival, that a statue4 is identical to the lump of matter from which it is made, and so on.

Author’s Introduction
  1. Some philosophers believe that everyday objects are 4-dimensional spacetime worms, that a person (for example) persists through time by having temporal parts, or stages, at each moment of her existence. None of these stages is identical to the person herself; rather, she is the aggregate of all her temporal parts. Others accept “three dimensionalism”, rejecting stages in favor of the notion that persons “endure”, or are “wholly present” throughout their lives. I aim to defend an apparently radical third view: not only do I accept person stages; I claim that we are stages. Likewise for other objects of our everyday ontology: statues5 are statue-stages6, coins are coin-stages, etc.
  2. At one level, I accept the ontology of the worm view. I believe in spacetime worms, since I believe in temporal parts and aggregates of things I believe in. I simply don’t think spacetime worms are what we typically call persons, name with proper names, quantify over, etc. The metaphysical view shared by this “stage view”7 and the worm view may be called “four dimensionalism”, and may be stated roughly as the doctrine that temporally extended things divide into temporal parts.
  3. In this paper I hope to provide what might be called “philosopher’s reasons” to believe the stage view8, by arguing that it resolves various puzzles about identity over time better than its rivals. After replying to objections, I conclude that a strong case exists for accepting the stage view9. At the very least, I hope to show that the stage view10 deserves more careful consideration that it usually is given.


COMMENT:
  1. See Link.
  2. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 74: 433-453;
  3. Included in "Look (Brandon C.) - The Metaphysics of Material Beings: Constitution, Persistence, and Identity";
  4. Photocopy filed in "Various - Papers on Identity Boxes: Vol 16 (S1: Sa-Sl)".



"Sider (Ted) - Four-Dimensionalism"

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


Philosophers Index Abstract
    I support four-dimensionalism, the doctrine of temporal parts, against three-dimensionalism, the doctrine that objects are always "wholly present." What, exactly, does this dispute amount to? Four-dimensionalism may be formulated in clear and unambiguous language; those who say the dispute is confused or merely verbal are thereby answered. Interestingly, three-dimensionalism is not so easy to formulate. The trouble is in the slogan "wholly present," the meaning of which is not at all clear. After the formulational issues, I offer a new argument for four-dimensionalism, based on the assumption that vagueness never issues from "pure logic" (including quantification and identity).

Author’s Abstract
    Persistence through time is like extension through space. A road has spatial parts in the subregions of the region of space it occupies; likewise, an object that exists in time has temporal parts in the various subregions of the total region of time it occupies. This view — known variously as four dimensionalism, the doctrine of temporal parts, and the theory that objects “perdure” — is opposed to “three dimensionalism”, the doctrine that things “endure”, or are “wholly present”. I will attempt to resolve this dispute in favor of four dimensionalism by means of a novel argument based on considerations of vagueness. But before argument in this area can be productive, I believe we must become much clearer than is customary about exactly what the dispute is, for the usual ways of formulating the dispute are flawed, especially where three dimensionalism is concerned.


COMMENT:
  1. See Link;
  2. Included in "Look (Brandon C.) - The Metaphysics of Material Beings: Constitution, Persistence, and Identity";
  3. Philosophical Review 106.2, Apr. 1997, pp. 197-231;
  4. Printout in "Various - Papers on Identity Boxes: Vol 16 (S1: Sa-Sl)".



"Sider (Ted) - Presentism and Ontological Commitment"

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


Philosophers Index Abstract
    We often find ourselves quantifying over entities we do not really accept. Example: presentists reject past and future entities, yet quantify over them in unreflective moments. Paraphrasing away the unwanted commitments does not always work. When it does not, presentists should give up on paraphrase and admit that the talk is untrue. It may nevertheless be quasi-true, if (roughly) there are actual facts on which the talk would have supervened1 had presentism been false. Whether quasi-truth can indeed be secured depends on certain assumptions, which are examined. The strategy is then applied to other cases of apparent ontological commitment to problematic entities.


COMMENT:



"Sider (Ted) - The Stage View and Temporary Intrinsics"

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


Philosophers Index Abstract
    David Lewis's argument from temporary intrinsics1 includes a complaint against theories that deny that anything is "just plain straight." But, as critics have pointed out, on Lewis's own theory, no ordinary continuant is just plain straight. For Lewis, continuants are aggregates of temporal stages; and only stages, not their aggregates, are just plain straight. Lewis's argument works better as an argument in favor of my stage view2 ("All the World's a Stage", Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 74 ,1996, 433-453) which identifies ordinary continuants with stages rather than aggregates of stages and analyzes temporal predication using temporal counterpart theory. Focuses on the use of four-dimensionalism in explaining the correlation between time and space. Stages of the continuing space-time worm; Role of four-dimensionalist in explaining the phenomenon of intrinsic change; Context of the doctrine of presentism; Intrinsic properties of distinct temporal parts of a single space-time worm.


COMMENT:



"Taylor (Richard) - Spatial and Temporal Analogies and the Concept of Identity"

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


Introductory Paragraphs
  1. Few things have engendered more philosophical puzzlement than time. Unlike space, which has generally seemed above all simple and obvious, time has always been regarded by a great many philosophers and theologians as a dark subject of speculation, fundamentally enigmatic, even incomprehensible. It is also something concerning which men can become bewitched over statements which, on the slightest analysis, turn out to express the most trivial truisms-such as, "the past cannot be changed," "the future (or the past) is nothing," "time cannot be reversed," and so on.
  2. I want to remove some of this mysteriousness by showing that temporal and spatial relations, contrary to much traditional thought, are radically alike; or, more precisely, that
    • 1) terms ordinarily used in a peculiarly temporal sense have spatial counterparts and vice versa, and that accordingly
    • 2) many propositions involving temporal concepts which seem obviously and necessarily true, are just as necessarily but not so obviously true when reformulated in terms of spatial relations; or, if false in terms of spatial concepts, then false in terms of temporal ones too.
  3. Such a project is sometimes rejected as a "spatializing of time," but what I have in mind is no more a spatialization of time than a temporalization of space; if it is either, it is the other as well. Of course I am not the first to press the analogies between space and time, but I believe they can be carried much farther than has been thought possible heretofore.


COMMENT:



"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:-


COMMENT:



"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.


COMMENT:



"Zimmerman (Dean) - Can One “Take Tense Seriously” and Be a B-theorist?"

Source: Haslanger & Kurtz - Persistence : Contemporary Readings

COMMENT: Appendix to "Zimmerman (Dean) - Temporary Intrinsics and Presentism".



"Zimmerman (Dean) - One Really Big Liquid Sphere: Reply to Lewis"

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


Philosophers Index Abstract
  • In "Lewis (David) - Zimmerman and the Spinning Sphere" David Lewis defends the compatibility of three theses:
    1. the metaphysics of temporal parts,
    2. the Humean supervenience1 of the causal relation, and
    3. the possibility of truly homogeneous substances.
  • Lewis has found a hole in Zimmerman's argument for the incompatibility of these doctrines. This short paper attempts to patch up the hole.

Introductory Paragraph
  • David Lewis takes up the gauntlet I threw down in an earlier paper, defending the compatibility of three theses:
    1. the metaphysics of temporal parts,
    2. the Humean supervenience2 of the causal relation, and
    3. the possibility of truly homogeneous substances.
  • I am fortunate to have Lewis for challenger, and not just because of his pre-eminence among latter-day Humeans: Lewis (like Hume himself) is willing to take the fact that something seems plainly possible as weighty evidence for its actually being possible – and not just 'epistemically possible', i.e. true for all we know fight now. In particular, he is willing to take the seeming possibility of truly homogeneous solids and fluids in various states of motion and rest as a good reason to think they are possible, whatever science may ultimately say about their physical possibility.
  • Many who otherwise have much in common with Lewis will be tempted to jump ship right here, dismissing the entire debate as a futile exercise in 'science fiction physics'.


COMMENT:



"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.

Sections
  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, 2018
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)



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