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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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: perdurantism1, which holds that change over time is analogous to change over space; exdurantism2, according to which identity over time is analogous to identity across possible worlds; and endurantism3, 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 perdurantism4, exdurantism5, or endurantism6, 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.

    Introduction: What’s the Problem? - Roxanne Marie Kurtz
  1. Metaphysics of Temporal Parts
    1. Perdurance7
      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. Exdurance8 (or Stage Theory9)
      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. Endurance10: 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. Endurance11: 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 Intrinsics12 and Presentism (1998) - Dean W. Zimmerman
  4. Problems for Endurance13
    1. Temporary Intrinsics14
      1. Tensing the Copula (2002) - David Lewis
      2. The Stage View and Temporary Intrinsics15 (2000) - Theodore Sider
    2. Special Relativity
      1. Persistence and Space-Time: Philosophical Lessons of the Pole and Barn (2000) - Yuri Balashov


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 perdurantism1 over endurantism2;
  4. Two major rival theories of persistence;
  5. Implications of contemporary physical theories for the philosophy of time.


"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.


"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


"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.

  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


"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.


"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.

  1. The Puzzle of Change
  2. .The Standard Solutions
    … The Perdurance1 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?


"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.


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

Source: Haslanger (Sally) & Kurtz (Roxanne) - Persistence : Contemporary Readings
Write-up Note1 (Full Text reproduced below).

  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 Kurtz: Introduction to Persistence: What’s the Problem?.

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. Perdurantism8, exdurantism9, and endurantism10 succeed in this project. Each approach explains the phenomenon of persistence without collapsing into contradiction countenancing, change nihilism11, or persistence nihilism12. However, each sacrifices something in terms of its view of change, persistence, or predication. Within perdurantist13, exdurantist14, and endurantist15 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 intrinsics16.

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

Write-up17 (as at 29/12/2019 12:57:36): Kurtz - Persistence (Introduction)

This note is a review of "Kurtz (Roxanne) - Introduction to Persistence: What’s the Problem?".

Author’s Précis
    Some ordinary objects persist through change. At least, that is the thesis shared by the editors of this volume and the included authors. At stake in the debate among these authors, then, is not whether objects persist through change but rather how they do so. To give some context to this debate, in this introduction I motivate the real metaphysical problem of how objects persist through change, consider three broad approaches to explaining persistence, and briefly explore the bearing of some key metaphysical issues on the tenability of various accounts of persistence.

Section Headings / Topics
  • Introduction
  • The Initial Tension Concerning Persistence
    • Three Non-Negotiable Theses
      1. Consistency
      2. Change
      3. Persistence
  • Ease the Tension, Find the Problem
  • Metaphysics of Temporal Parts and Persistence
    • Perdurantism
    • Exdurantism
  • Metaphysics of Enduring Things
    • Endurantism
  • The Real Problem of Persistence
    • Three Negotiable Theses
      1. Alteration
      2. Survival
      3. Atemporal Instantiation
    • Argument to contradiction
  • Clarifying the Debate about the Real Problem of Persistence
  • Persistence and the Metaphysics of Time
    • Eternalism
    • Presentism
  • Persistence and Tensed Propositions
  • Persistence and Temporary Intrinsics
  • Conclusion

  1. Introduction
    1. The motivating introductory section is, it seems, indebted to "Haslanger (Sally) - Persistence Through Time".
    2. The Introduction18 as a whole locates the various papers in the Book ("Haslanger (Sally) & Kurtz (Roxanne), Eds. - Persistence : Contemporary Readings") within the context of the debate, but the introduction is not at all a slavish summary of these many chapters, as is the case with many introductory surveys.
  2. The Initial Tension Concerning Persistence (p.1)
    1. There are three “Non-Negotiable Theses”:-
      1. CONSISTENCY19: the same thing cannot have incompatible properties. Follows either from the law of non-contradiction or from Leibniz’s Law20.
      2. CHANGE: Change involves incompatible properties.
      3. PERSISTENCE: Objects persist21 through change.
    2. These three theses, agreed on by all authors in the book, are in tension. They are “non-negotiable” because giving up any one of them involves too high a metaphysical cost. Basically, consistency is more certain than the other two, and we have very strong intuitions that things really do change, and persist through (at least some) changes. Consequently, we need an account of persistence that resolves the tension. Kurtz does provide references to those who might question these basic assumptions, but they are not really worth pursuing22:-
      1. Abandoning CONSISTENCY: "Baxter (Donald L.M.) - Loose Identity and Becoming Something Else".
      2. Abandoning CHANGE: "Mortensen (Chris) - Change and Inconsistency".
      3. Abandoning PERSISTENCE: "Seibt (Johanna) - Process Philosophy".
    3. Finally, the scope of the discussion is restricted in two further ways:-
      1. To “ordinary everyday objects” (which include “persons”). We can ask whether gerrymandered objects exist and persist, but this has no significant bearing on the main question.
      2. To what it is for ordinary objects to persist “at all”, not to arbitrate on particular cases where persistence is doubtful.
  3. Ease the Tension, Find the Problem (p. 3)
    1. There are three approaches that maintain the three non-negotiable theses, namely:-
      1. Perdurantism23,
      2. Exdurantism24, and
      3. Endurantism25.
    2. Perdurantism and Exdurantism share a metaphysics of temporal parts, which Endurantism claims ordinary things lack. Each maintains the tension between the three non-negotiable theses by sacrificing at least one “intuitively and philosophically appealing” metaphysical claim on persistence. Kurtz sees this as the “real problem of persistence”.
    3. Kurtz now introduces four26 terms for future use:-
      1. Numerical Identity27: the relation every object bears to itself solely in virtue of being a single object.
      2. SURVIVAL: an object survives if and only if it is numerically identical to something that exists at a different time.
      3. ALTERATION: an object alters if and only if it is numerically identical to objects that instantiate different28 properties at different times.
      4. Just Having (a property): an object just has a property if and only if no extrinsic facts are relevant to the truth of the proposition that the object has that property.
    4. All involved in these arguments (in this book) accept the application of these terms, at least some of the time. Some things survive and alter. Just Having a property is the only slightly tricky concept, and "Lewis (David) - Rearrangement of Particles: Reply to Lowe" is invoked29, which refers to non-relational changes (the example is of changing your shape by sitting, etc.).
    5. Kurtz’s claim is that to maintain the consistency of the three non-negotiable theses, we must sacrifice some piece of this everyday understanding of how persistence involves survival, alteration, or the just having of properties.
  4. Metaphysics of Temporal Parts and Persistence (p. 5)
    1. Ordinary objects are constituted by parts30, but what sort? The issue is whether or not ordinary things have temporal parts, so Kurtz ignores other possibilities, such as Spatial parts. All grant these, but maybe there are also31:-
      • Modal parts,
      • Dependent parts,
      • Abstract parts,
      • Logical parts, etc.
    2. Kurtz introduces the acronym MTP32 for the Metaphysics of Temporal Parts - that objects are said to have. These exist only instantaneously, and are otherwise known as Stages or Time-Slices. A duck – according to MTP – is wholly33 or partly constituted by temporal parts.
    3. There are two forms of MTP – Perdurantism and Exdurantism – and (says Kurtz) their motivation34 – and that of MTP itself – comes from how well either of these accounts for persistence.
    4. The chapters in this volume that argue for or against MTP are:-
    5. Additionally, there is "Hawley (Katherine) - Temporal Parts" (from Stanford).
  5. Perdurantism (p. 5)
    1. For the perdurantist, temporal change is analogous to spatial change. Just as different spatial parts of an object can have incompatible properties, so can different temporal parts of a temporally-extended object.
    2. Perdurantists take ordinary objects to be space-time worms, which are only partially present at a particular moment.
    3. This is important, so I’ll quote in full: “… an object persists by perduring, and perdures by surviving change. An object survives because, being a fusion of momentary stages, it exists at different times. It changes because some of its stages just have incompatible properties”.
    4. The papers in this book dealing with Perdurance are:-
    5. Perdurantism does satisfy the three non-negotiable theses of CONSISTENCY, CHANGE and PERSISTENCE; but, Kurtz claims, it does so at a metaphysical cost.
    6. Firstly, CHANGE is no longer alteration. Properties don’t belong to a perduring object as a whole but only to its stages. So, the perduring object is not numerically identical to an object that possesses incompatible properties at different times. We are referred to chapter "Haslanger (Sally) - Persistence, Change, and Explanation".
    7. There’s also a tension between perdurantism and just having the incompatible properties required for CHANGE. The incompatible properties are had through the object’s relationships35 to its constituent temporal parts.
  6. Exdurantism (p. 7)
    1. Exdurantism is otherwise known as Stage Theory and Kurtz describes it as analogous to identity36 between possible worlds. Just as an object might have had incompatible properties – and this is cashed out as a counterpart in a possible world having these properties – so a temporal counterpart stage of the object has them. The objects with incompatible properties are, in both cases, non-identical counterparts of one another. So, the exdurantist then contends that change over time is nothing more than an object and its temporal counterpart having incompatible properties and existing at different moments in the actual world. .
    2. Exdurantists have it that an object is numerically identical to a single stage, and is wholly present at the moment it exists. In contrast to Perdurance, according to Exdurantists, objects persist when they exdure, and exdure by changing over time. An object changes over time, then, when it and a counterpart stage just have incompatible properties. Consequently, an exduring object does not SURVIVE change.
    3. In this volume, exdurance is treated in:-
    4. Acording to Exdurance, an object undergoes CHANGE when it and a counterpart “just have” incompatible properties. It PERSISTs when it changes over time by standing in the counterpart relation37 to a stage from a different time. As no single thing has incompatible properties (different stages are different objects), Exdurantism satisfies CONSISTENCY.
    5. Exdurantism has the advantage over Perdurantism in that it’s the object itself that “just has” its properties, rather than a (temporal) part of the object.
    6. However, just like Perdurantism, Exdurantism rules out CHANGE as commonly understood. In both cases, it’s just different stages that have the incompatible property, not one and the same whole object.
    7. But, Exdurantism does much worse over SURVIVAL, in that an exduring object doesn’t survive, as the different stages are different objects. At best, an exduring object “continues” in some way, but the momentary stages are no more identical than are links in a chain.
    8. Kurtz acknowledges that an exdurantist can argue that the above criticism assumes a traditional understanding of existence that is disputed by exdurantism. To my mind it seems that the continuant is the counterpart relation that the stages bear to one another. Kurtz claims that (an exdurantist can argue that) the (object) survives the change because it is numerically identical to itself at a past time at which it (derivatively) existed .
    9. Kurtz claims that this threatens the coherency of the very idea of existence. It posits the existence of ordinary objects at times in the world during which they could not have causal powers and could not overlap with any material object. They would exist in the world but not be present (unless also derivatively so). To my mind, it’s rather the concept of identity that’s threatened. How can distinct things (the stages) be identical38 to one another? Kurtz, however, seems to suppose that what the exdurantist is arguing is that the present stage exists39 (in some way) in the past, though as a ghost alongside the extinct incompatible stage. Anyway, Kurtz leaves it up to the exdurantist to defend their account of existence, and just leaves it as a prima facie objection to exdurantism that they cannot – even with a modified form of existence – have it that objects SURVIVE across time.
  7. Metaphysics of Enduring Things (p. 9)
    1. According to MET, at least some40 objects endure – namely, that a numerically identical object is wholly present at different times.
    2. For both MTP and MET, objects may have temporal parts. So, the existence of stages or a space-time worm41 is not denied by MET.
    3. Neither a space-time worm nor a stage is an enduring thing, as neither is wholly present at different times. Nevertheless, says Kurtz42, MET does not entail the claim that ordinary objects lack temporal parts.
  8. Endurantism (p. 10)
    1. Endurantists claim that ordinary objects persist by enduring, that is, that identity over time is strict identity between objects wholly present at different times. Change is the holding of incompatible properties by objects identical over time. So far seems to be common-sense43.
    2. To avoid the CONTRADICTION of an object having incompatible properties, endurantists adopt temporally mediated property instantiation, whereby temporal facts (whether of time or tense) external to the object mediate the instantiation of incompatible properties without an appeal to temporal parts. Thus, an ordinary object PERSISTs through CHANGE and both ALTERs and SURVIVEs. What has to be given up is the “just having” of properties. The question seems to be how important the having of properties only mediated by internal facts is.
    3. There are various implementations of endurantism. Those in this book are44:-
    4. Kurtz thinks that the introduction of time or tense into property instantiation creates four potential problems45:-
      1. She thinks it irrelevant what the time is to whether an object has an intrinsic property or not.
      2. Issues like Bradley’s Regress (to be discussed under the head of Temporary Intrinsics) threaten our understanding of how a property can be predicated of an object at all.
      3. Indexing properties to times makes them seem like different46 properties, and so gets rid of the prima facie problem of inconsistent properties too easily.
      4. Given the definition of CHANGE, then if the properties aren’t incompatible, why do we have change at all?
  9. The Real Problem of Persistence (p. 12)
    1. The three Negotiable Theses are:-
      1. ALTERATION: Any object that changes is the proper subject of the incompatible properties involved in the change.
      2. SURVIVAL: If an object persists through change, then the object existing before the change is numerically identical to the one existing after the change.
      3. ATEMPORAL INSTANTIATION: If an object is the proper subject of a property, then
        1. the object has that property, and
        2. facts about time and tense are irrelevant to the truth of the proposition that the object has that property.
    2. These three Negotiable Theses constrain the corresponding Non-negotiable Theses and, Kurtz claims, if we want to solve the real problem of persistence we will have to deny, substantially revise, or significantly reinterpret our ordinary understanding of one of these negotiable theses. So:-
      • ALTERATION constrains CHANGE: while Endurantism has no prima facie problem, for the other two there is tension. Exdurantism denies that it is the same object that is the bearer of the incompatible properties, while Perdurantism denies that it is the whole47 object that does so.
      • SURVIVAL constrains PERSISTENCE: If we insist that survival is necessary for persistence, then Exduring objects do not persist48.
      • ATEMPORAL INSTANTIATION constrains CONSISTENCY: if we are not allowed to add any temporal qualification to the possession of a property, then the possession of inconsistent properties by the same object would seem to violate CONSISTENCY. Kurtz lists the outlawed temporal methodologies as:-
        1. Time-indexing: x is F-at-t
        2. Time-relative predicates: x-is-at-t F
        3. Relations with times as arguments: x is F at t
        4. Adverbial accounts: x is F t-ly
        5. Temporal context-sensitivity: Obtains at t (x is F)
        6. Tense: x was F
        Perdurantists and Exdurantists treat distinct stages at the proper subjects of the incompatible properties, so have no trouble with ATEMPORAL INSTANTIATION. Not so for endurantists, and Kurtz notes that when they modify this negotiable thesis, they need to watch out that they don’t thereby trespass on ALTERATION, thereby incurring further metaphysical costs.
    3. Whatever the problems with individual thesis-pairs for the various philosophies of persistence, Kurtz notes a prima facie argument49 to contradiction for any conceivable theory:-
      • Assumptions from the Non-negotiable Theses
        1. x persists through change (PERSISTENCE)
        2. x’s changing involves Fx and not-Fx (CHANGE)
        3. It is not the case that Fx and not-Fx (CONSISTENCY)
      • Steps Drawing on the Negotiable Theses
        1. The x of which Fx is numerically identical to the x of which not-Fx (SURVIVAL and 1)
        2. x is the proper subject of both F and not-F (ALTERATION, 2 and 4)
        3. Fx and not-Fx (ATEMPORAL INSTANTIATION and 5)
      • Contradiction
        1. Since 3 and 6 cannot both be true.
    4. So, one or more of the Non-negotiable Theses must be false50, and the real problem of persistence is finding a philosophically elegant way through this maze that does least violence to our basic intuitions.
  10. Clarifying the Debate about the Real Problem of Persistence (p. 15)
    1. Kurtz claims that two issues often thought to side with one or other of the three approaches to persistence in fact cross-cut them. Two of the most important such issues are:-
      1. The metaphysics of time, and
      2. The truth-makers of tensed propositions.
    2. These cross-cutting issues can be distracting, but an issue that helps decide between the approaches is:-
      1. The role of temporary intrinsics51 in persistence.
  11. Persistence and the Metaphysics of Time (p. 15)
    1. The two major theories of time are
      • Presentism: Only the present, and objects presently existing, exist.
      • Eternalism: All times, and the objects existing at all times – past, present and future – exist.
    2. Consequently, only Eternalists can quantify over all times and the objects existing at them.
    3. The following theses are frequently presupposed:-
      • MTP ETERNALISM: Any view of persistence incorporating MTP entails52 Eternalism.
      • MET PRESENTISM: Any view of persistence incorporating MET entails53 Presentism.
    4. If this were so,
      • Decisive arguments for Presentism would rule out Exdurantism and Perdurantism, and
      • Decisive arguments for Eternalism would rule out Endurantism
      • But, Kurtz claims that we should accept neither thesis, as the issue of temporal metaphysics cross-cuts that of MTP.
    5. Firstly, while MTP standardly presupposes Eternalism, it need not do so.
      • Superficially, all the parts of the perdurantist’s space-time worm need to exist for the object to exist.
      • Also, to explain change, the Exdurantist needs to refer to counterpart stages at times other than the present.
      • So, it seems that either variant of MTP needs to quantify over times.
      • But, Kurtz says, there are ways round these problems: there are prior questions about existence54 – what it is for an object to exist or subsist – that first need to be answered, because there are coherent, if maybe unattractive, resources for MTP. For instance, …
      • A perdurantist could hold that a space-time worm exists only in the present, but subsists55 at other times.
      • The Exdurantist can accept that the counterparts of the existing present stage merely subsist, because they have existed or will exist, and exist now as “abstract representations56”.
    6. Secondly, Endurantism doesn’t entail Presentism
      • The reason we might think so is because we seem to violate CONSISTENCY if the Enduring object simply instantiates contradictory properties (Fx and not-Fx).
      • But mediated property instantiation offers a way out for the Endurantist – this is the corresponding “prior question” in case – whether to adopt property instantiation mediated by time or tense (eg. Fx-at-t1 and not-Fx-at-t2; or “has” versus “had” inconsistent properties). Only if all forms of mediated property instantiation are unacceptable must an Endurantist be a Presentist; the section on Temporary Intrinsics gives reasons why this may be so.
    7. Note that all three approaches to persistence use time or tense in some57 way to avoid paradox.
    8. Chapters covering this topic are:-
    9. There is also the growing block universe view, whereby only past and present times exist, not future58 ones. This doesn’t change matters, as MTP can still rely on subsistence for future times, and MET can still rely on mediated property instantiation.
  12. Persistence and Tensed Propositions (p. 18)
    1. There’s a question about how propositions about the past or future have truth values. In particular, how do we take the “is” of predication? There are two obvious alternatives:-
      • Serious Tensing: “is” is irreducibly tensed, and is cover for “was”, “is now” or “will be”. Seriously tensed propositions can change in truth-value over time, and serious tensers try to represent time in a way that captures change happening.
      • Surface Tensing: “is” is timeless. All propositions are eternally true or false, and tense is eliminable – any such tense is to be replaced by a time (x is F at t1).
    2. Surface tensers try to eliminate complications in tense logic59 and take seriously McTaggart’s claim that tensing leads to contradiction60.
    3. Lewis thinks that this means we should reject presentism, and hence endurantism. In this book, see:-
    4. However, Kurtz thinks this muddles together disagreements about tense with those about time:-
      • An eternalist may – despite thinking that all times exist – hold that it is with reference to the present that the truth-value of propositions should be evaluated. This requires serious tensing – “Aristotle was wise”.
      • But, equally, an eternalist may hold that the present is not a privileged time. This requires surface tensing, but being more explicit – so, “Aristotle is wise in ancient Greece61”.
      • So, there’s no implication from one’s position on tensing to a metaphysics of time.
    5. Kurtz claims that both surface and serious tensing are consistent with all three approaches to persistence, and that problems arise only when extra metaphysical presuppositions about existence and predication are added. For justification:-
    6. Surface Tensers: think that tense is and should be eliminable. Their options are …
      • Adopt MTP, or
      • Adopt MET combined with property-mediation that excludes tense, eg62.
        → Time-indexed properties
        → Relations with times as arguments
        → Adverbial accounts
        → Temporal context sensitivity
      • Whatever option is adopted, time is built in:-
        → To the object itself in MTP (“temporalized objects”)
        → To the property, instantiation being time-mediated.
      • While Eternalism is consistent with all the options, Presentism would need to be made consistent by the use of Ersatz63 times.
      • See "Mellor (D.H.) - Selections from 'Real Time'".
    7. Serious Tensers:
      • Already appeal to the mediation of property-instantiation by tense, so temporal facts are relevant to the having of properties.
      • Can without inconsistency appeal to temporalized objects, so MTP is OK.
      • Eternalism is consistent with the above strategies, but
      • Presentism has to be made consistent by positing “less than fully existing entities”, including64:-
        → Subsisting stages
        → Abstract representations
        → Objects “having” but not “instantiating” a property.
    8. The bottom line of all this is that there are 12 possible combinations of independent views! Three views of persistence, two of time, and two of tense. All can co-exist, though some combinations sit more comfortably together than others. Some variants of the three views on persistence may be eliminated or made less appealing, but no arguments for time or tense argue conclusively against them.
  13. Persistence and Temporary Intrinsics (p. 20)
    1. Kurtz thinks that, unlike arguments about time and tense, which cross-cut the approaches to persistence, the matter of temporary intrinsic properties may be decisive.
    2. We’re reminded of what intrinsic properties are – properties an object has simply in virtue of being itself – eg. straight rather than bent. A temporary intrinsic properties is only had temporarily.
    3. Real65 change occurs when an object has incompatible temporary intrinsic properties at different times, and this needs to be explained by an adequate account of persistence, which are constant relational changes.
    4. Many philosophers take seriously the “just having” of temporary intrinsic properties which motivated ATEMPORAL INSTANTIATION, the last of the “negotiable theses”.
    5. Kurtz gives examples of properties had (she says66) by an object irrespective of its relations to the wider world.
    6. If predication “just is” a primitive non-relational bond between an object and its intrinsic properties, then Endurantism is false, as temporal qualification is ruled out.
    7. It seems we mustn’t take the question of “just having” of properties lightly, as it is supported:-
      1. By the “Lewisian Intuitions” previously rehearsed67, and
      2. By the Bradley Regress.
    8. The Bradley Regress: this is generated by the following two claims:-
      1. Some objects stand in relation to one another
      2. A relation stands in a relation to the objects that instantiate it.
      The example given is Near (Duck, Acorn); Instantiation (Nearness, Near (Duck, Acorn)); “and68 so on”.
    9. Kurtz accepts the Bradley Regress as a worry, maybe for the sake of the argument, and then points out that it causes no problems for those accounts of temporary intrinsics that have predication as a primitive non-relational bond between an object and a property. But, problems do occur if predication involves relations between objects, properties and times, and also for mediated accounts of property instantiation that reduce to relational accounts.
    10. Atemporal Instantiation consequently eliminates Endurantism, because the endurantist’s account of having a property involves temporalizing the having of it. Consequently, no enduring object is the proper subject of a property. But, ALTERATION requires proper subjects, so enduring objects cannot alter, and consequently cannot change. Finally, an object that cannot change, but is subject to change, cannot SURVIVE. This would demolish Endurantism as an account of persistence.
    11. So, do we need to accept ATEMPORAL INSTANTATION without modification? Apparently not, because the Bradley Regress only raises its head if mediated instantiation must reduce to relational instantiation. But, says Kurtz, this isn’t so.
    12. She considers three ways of instantiating temporary intrinsic properties:-
      • Monadic property instantiation: this is the standard account that is conducive to MTP. We have atemporal “just having”. But there are also …
      • Nonmonadic property instantiation
      • Monadic type instantiation
    13. Nonmonadic property instantiation: gives up on “just having” and introduces the relation of objects to times – the book is “open at t” and not open simpliciter.
      • If the relation is an ordinary one, Bradley’s Regress is (taken to be) fatal, but maybe it’s possible to argue that a relation involving time is special in some way?
      • Other options:-
        1. Tensed predicate relations (eg. “the book was open”)
        2. Time-dependent properties (eg. “the book is open-at-t”)
        3. Adverbial accounts (eg. “the book is open t-ly”)
      • Each of these bypass the regress, unless they reduce to a relational account and (Kurtz claims) there’s no obvious incoherence in a form of Endurantism that modifies clause (ii) of ATEMPORAL INSTANTIATION in one of these ways. But, these strategies raise other problems …
        1. They don’t allow for the “just having” of properties, as further facts about time or tense are introduced69.
        2. How do we devise a workable tense-logic (for option 1 above)?
        3. These options make change difficult to understand. The incompatibility70 in the properties has gone.
    14. Monadic type instantiation: On this account, a temporary intrinsic property is instantiated just in case a token context of some type71 obtains “at a time”.
  14. Conclusion (p. 24)
    1. The metaphysics of time and tense cross-cuts that of persistence, though there are residual issues related to Temporary Intrinsics that trouble Endurantism.
    2. Kurtz thinks that introducing time or tense does not make property-claims any less about the object and its property in the way that introducing other relations would. This may counter the “Lewisian Intuitions”.
    3. We can bypass the Bradley Regress by the use of mediated property instantiation.
    4. Hence, the justification72 for ATEMPORAL INSTANTIATION is inadequate to refute Endurantism.
    5. So, we have three viable accounts of persistence, all of which accept the three non-negotiable theses, but each have to water down at least one of the three negotiable theses.
    6. We’re just left with a choice based on a cost/benefit analysis involving “intuitiveness, theoretical attractiveness, and elegance”.
    7. Each of the three frameworks can accommodate different views on
      • the metaphysics of time,
      • the logical structure of propositions, and
      • temporary intrinsics.

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

Footnote 17:
  • This is the write-up as it was when this Abstract was last output, with text as at the timestamp indicated (29/12/2019 12:57:36).
  • Link to Latest Write-Up Note.
Footnote 18: Ie. this paper.

Footnote 19:
  • These definitions are capitalised (as in the paper) because these are henceforth technical terms in Kurtz’s paper.
Footnote 20:
  • A footnote refers to Aristotle, who mentions “at the same time” – obviously key to the solution to the problem.
Footnote 21:
  • Persistence: This term isn’t really defined.
  • It seems not to be the same as “surviving”, as this term – SURVIVAL – is later introduced as a negotiable thesis.
  • It may be important to bear this distinction in mind when considering Parfit’s claim that “Identity is not what matters in survival”.
  • See "Parfit (Derek) - Why Our Identity is Not What Matters", and Thesis: What matters.
Footnote 22:
  • Actually, this may be premature: the problem of temporary intrinsics may demand that these alternatives be taken seriously.
Footnote 26:
  • Terms 2-4 appear later as the three “negotiable theses”, though “just having” appears in a restricted form as “Atemporal Instantiation”. Consequently, I’ve capitalised the appropriate two.
Footnote 28: Not just different – “incompatible”.

Footnote 29: Footnote 30: Footnote 31: Footnote 32:
  • The contrasting acronym is MET for Metaphysics of Enduring Things.
Footnote 33:
  • It seems odd to think of a duck as being wholly constituted by a single temporal part, but this just is the exdurantist claim, as we will see.
Footnote 34:
  • I had thought the motivation came from the need to explain conundrums like Fission, but it seems there are philosophical difficulties with MET (see the later discussion of Temporary Intrinsics).
Footnote 35:
  • So, are “had”, but not “just had”. However, taking the motivating analogy seriously – that of spatial change – an object that has red bits and green bits – aren’t these “just had” even though they are compatible only in relation to the parts of the object?
Footnote 36:
  • “Identity” is, strictly speaking, the wrong term, if the counterparts are non-identical.
  • So, … is this Kurtz’s error or mine? Check!
Footnote 37:
  • Just how is this “Counterpart Relation” cashed out?
Footnote 38:
  • But there’s a standard problem of modal trans-world identity, so maybe this problem is subsumed in that.
Footnote 39:
  • We will read later about further disputes about “subsistence” and between Presentists and Eternalists about time.
Footnote 40:
  • This sounds like an existence-claim, but we let it pass.
Footnote 41:
  • Though the worm is not an “ordinary thing”, but (presumably) a collection of momentary stages, which are themselves not ordinary things.
Footnote 42:
  • This sounds wrong as far as ordinary objects are concerned – I need to check what the endurantists say on this.
Footnote 43: Footnote 44:
  • Presumably, these chapters present, but don’t necessarily support, endurantism.
Footnote 45:
  • Presumably for MET only. I’m not hugely convinced by these – and Kurtz admits she’s only gestured at them to get them on the table.
Footnote 46:
  • And, if they are different properties it (to my mind) obscures what makes Red-at-T1 and Red-at-T2 both instances of Red.
  • However, maybe adopt “Temporal context-sensitivity: Obtains at t (x is F)”
Footnote 47:
  • This is a bit awkward to state.
  • Take a sweater that has one sleeve dyed red at one time and green at another. Clearly, on any view, the object changes, but only part of it has the property of being red or green.
  • But at least for Endurantism, the whole sweater has the property of having a red sleeve, at one time, and a green sleeve, at another.
  • This is not the case for Perdurantism, as only part of the object has the property “having a red sleeve”.
  • And for Exdurantism, the different stages are not even the same object.
Footnote 48:
  • As previously noted, I had hitherto equated survival with persistence – maybe because I’d not come across Exdurantism, for which Survival is a problem.
  • How many philosophers draw the distinction, or are even aware of it?
  • See Derek Parfit, of course.
Footnote 49:
  • Kurtz’s schema involves shutting an open book.
Footnote 50:
  • It is important to take this argument seriously, and determine what’s wrong with it (if there is anything) or which of its premises is most likely false.
  • My prime suspect is ATEMPORAL INSTANTIATION – why should anyone dig their heels in over this (or the “just having” properties principle)?
  • In (5), the “is” appears to be ambiguous – as it would be in Fx, translated as “the book is open” – sometimes it would seem to have a present-tense connotation, and sometimes an atemporal one. This is taken up under the head of “Persistence and Tensed Propositions” on p. 18.
Footnote 51:
  • See later (p. 20) for what temporary intrinsics are, if you don’t know (as I didn’t).
Footnote 52:
  • This seems – superficially – to be obviously the case, in that – for Perdurantism, at least – the whole spacetime worm can only exist if its temporal parts do.
  • But, it seems that there’s no inconsistency between Presentism and MTP, and I can see this for Exdurantism, where the only need is for the present stage to exist.
Footnote 53:
  • I can’t see any immediate need to believe this, especially as it was stated earlier that an Endurantist can accept the existence of temporal parts (they just aren’t parts of “ordinary objects”), though maybe only the present stage was intended? However, there’s an argument coming up ...
Footnote 55:
  • Subsistance has had a bit of a bad press since Russell’s critique of Meinong in "Russell (Bertrand) - On Denoting". But, how can a space-time worm exist (in the present) when its temporal parts merely subsist?
Footnote 56:
  • I’m not sure what this means, but there’s a footnote to refer us to the debate between modal realists – like Lewis – and the majority of irrealists.
  • Certainly, if modal counterpart theory is the correct analogy for Exdurantism, irrealism with respect to counterpart stages would seem to be “normal”.
Footnote 57:
  • Well, of course they do – and why not – given that we’re talking about change over time!
Footnote 58: Footnote 59:
  • I don’t know what these “complications” are – Kurtz says they are “caused by questions about how inference works when predication comes in more than one form”, but provides no further enlightenment.
Footnote 60: Footnote 61:
  • Presumably this is saying something about Aristotle rather than about us (or our relation to Aristotle) – who may or may consider Aristotle to have been wise (presumably his contemporaries may or may not have considered him wise, so any evaluational term is crypto-relational). I’m not sure whether this has any relevance to the question of tensing.
Footnote 62:
  • Are there others? Also, get a handle on precisely what these all mean!
Footnote 63: Footnote 64:
  • Again, are there other strategies, and what, precisely, do these strategies involve?
Footnote 65: Footnote 66: I’m somewhat dubious about this – though I’m not sure whether it matters much. Examples:-
  • Acorns “just are” green: but only when viewed in the right light – there seems to be no recognition of Secondary Qualities in this discussion, and colours – the standard example of such, are favourite examples of properties. See, for example, the dreaded
    → "McDowell (John) - Values and Secondary Qualities", or maybe (there are lots of others)
    → "Armstrong (David) - The Secondary Qualities".
  • Ducks “just can” fly: but only in air, in an appropriate gravitational field.
  • Candles “just are” straight: but (maybe) only in flat spacetime, when not viewed in a distorting mirror (not so sure about this one ..)
  • I wondered whether there might be arguments against the existence of intrinsic properties along the lines of “no private language”. Some properties, like “is tall” are crypto-relational: tall with respect to others who are shorter.
Footnote 67: Where are the rehearsals?

Footnote 68:
  • This sounds like Plato’s Third Man argument against the existence of properties as Forms (Universals) and see BA Essay: Plato’s Third Man.
  • Also, it’s not completely obvious (to me) how the “vicious regress” is fleshed out. Presumably we’re supposed to know all about the Bradley Regress already?
  • I had nothing on this, except "Lewis (David) - Tensing the Copula". Doing a trawl of JSTOR on “Bradley(’s) Regress” resulted in 49 articles, including the Lewis. As Lewis’s paper is in this Collection, I’ll leave considering this topic until I get there.
Footnote 69:
  • Kurtz adds “This worry has force equal to that of the Lewisian style intuitions.
  • What are these intuitions, and what’s the argument for this claim?
Footnote 70:
  • I would add that we seem to have lost the connection between the property-instances. If red-at-t1 and red-at-t2 are different properties, what makes them both instances of red?
Footnote 71:
  • I was somewhat weary at the end of this discussion, and don’t understand just what’s being claimed here.
  • I’ll see if I’m any clearer after reading what Forbes has to say.
Footnote 72:
  • Is this saying that “Lewisian Intuitions” and the Bradley Regress are the motivators for ATEMPORAL INSTANTIATION?

"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. Perdurance3 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 universal4, 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. Perdurance5 does not6.
  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 universals7. But here I ignore the mixed cases. And when I speak of ordinary things as perduring, I shall ignore their enduring universals8, if such there be.)
  3. Discussions of endurance versus perdurance9 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 like10 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; perdurance11 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. Perdurance12, which I favour for the temporal case, is closer to the counterpart theory which I favour for the modal13 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 intrinsics14. 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 intrinsics15; 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 intrinsics16 is that there aren't any temporary intrinsics17. This is simply incredible, if we are speaking of the persistence of ordinary things. (It might do for the endurance of entelechies or universals18.) 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 intrinsics19 generally, belong to different things. Endurance is to be rejected in favour of perdurance20. We perdure; we are made up of temporal parts, and our temporary intrinsics21 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.


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

Footnote 6: 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 10: 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.


"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.


"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.


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

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

  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”).


"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.


"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.

  1. See Sider - All the World’s a Stage.
  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.

  1. See Sider - Four Dimensionalism;
  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.


"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.


"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.


"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 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.


"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'.


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

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