The Metaphysics of Material Beings: Constitution, Persistence, and Identity
Look (Brandon C.)
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:

This is a pseudo-book to coordinate time (for which click on the Book Title at the top of the page) spent on a Seminar series, though time booked against individual papers appears against the real book to which they belong.

  1. This is the course summary – and directed reading list – of a Seminar1 (hailing from 2008) put on by the University of Kentucky. See Link.
  2. No doubt there are many such courses, but it seems to represent a reasonable pathway through the literature.
  3. The course summary is: This seminar will focus on contemporary discussions in analytic metaphysics concerning the nature of material objects. We will consider a number of questions, including the following:
    • What is the relation between a material being and its physical parts?
    • What are the essential properties of a material being and its parts?
    • In what sense can a material being be identical over time?
    • What is the difference between the intrinsic and extrinsic properties of material beings?
  4. A useful idea in the course was to get each student to write a weekly “reflection paper,” in which he or she addresses two questions:
    • 1. What is the most important unanswered question from the previous week’s session?
    • 2. What is the most important unanswered question in the required reading for the present2 session?
  5. For my purposes, I’ll probably ignore this idea, but will aim for the following:-
    • Create analyses of each paper.
    • Update my Notes with any topic-specific points raised.



In-Page Footnotes ("Look (Brandon C.) - The Metaphysics of Material Beings: Constitution, Persistence, and Identity")

Footnote 1: It’s not 100% clear from the Website (Link) that this is a graduate course, but the most difficult Undergraduate courses appear to start with serial “5”, and this is “Philosophy 650” (Link).

Footnote 2: There seems to be some overlap between these two questions, but maybe each week some of the previous week’s questions are answered, while others remain. Or so one would hope.



"Look (Brandon C.) - The Metaphysics of Material Beings: Constitution, Persistence, and Identity"

Source: University of Kentucky Website


The course proceeds as follows:-
  1. Texts: Required:
  2. A short list of books for further1 reading:
  3. Unfortunately, when we get to the course weekly prescribed reading, it just seems to be a plod through the two2 Primary Texts. This may be because the Seminar tutor (Link) is basically an expert on Leibniz, and not an expert on this topic:-


COMMENT: Available electronically at Link.




In-Page Footnotes ("Look (Brandon C.) - The Metaphysics of Material Beings: Constitution, Persistence, and Identity")

Footnote 1: So, as the list is short, the reading is effectively essential.

Footnote 2: Indexed “MC” and “P” respectively. It may be interesting to note which papers are NOT included, as most are.



"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:



"Burke (Michael) - Preserving the Principle of One Object to a Place: A Novel Account of the Relations Amongst Objects, Sorts, Sortals, and Persistence Conditions"

Source: Rea - Material Constitution - A Reader


Philosophers Index Abstract
    This article presents a novel account of the relations among objects, sorts, sortals1, and persistence conditions2. Among its advantages over the standard account is its compatibility with the commonsense principle of one material object to a place. The account enables us to dispose of the full range of putative counterexamples to that principle, including, notably, that of persons and their bodies. And it enables us to do so without resorting to anti- essentialism, temporal parts, sortal3 relativism, temporal relativism, mereological essentialism, or other theories that conflict with our ordinary ways of thinking about the world.


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:



"Chandler (Hugh S.) - Constitutivity and Identity"

Source: Rea - Material Constitution - A Reader


Philosophers Index Abstract
    A complex entity is demonstrably distinct from its parts and from the set of its parts. This does not refute materialism. Materialists can still hold that every complex entity is one and the same as the aggregate of its parts. Two arguments against this view are examined; but both prove unsuccessful.


COMMENT:



"Doepke (Frederick) - Spatially Coinciding Objects"

Source: Rea - Material Constitution - A Reader


Philosophers Index Abstract
  1. This article presents a theory of the (time-variant) "constitution" relation, which obtains between two distinct objects which occupy the same place at the same time.
  2. It explains why pairs of them (eg. a gold statue1 and the gold of the statue2, a person and his or her body) are indiscernible in a variety of logically independent respects, such as place, color, shape, and weight.
  3. It accounts for the formal features – notably, the asymmetry – of the constitution relation. (Recall that identity is symmetrical.)
  4. In rebutting a variety of attempts to subvert David Wiggins' argument that distinct objects can spatially coincide, the article offers the following:
    1. A general argument against relativizing identity (eg. sortally3 or temporally);
    2. Some explanation of the theoretical point of concepts of continuants;
    3. An anti-reductionist argument in favor of admitting constituted objects (eg. organisms) in addition to objects which constitute them (eg. collections of fundamental particles).


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:



"Geach (Peter) - Reference and Generality (Selections)"

Source: Rea - Material Constitution - A Reader

COMMENT:



"Gibbard (Allan) - Contingent Identity"

Source: Rea - Material Constitution - A Reader
Write-up Note1

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


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:



"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:



"Howard-Snyder (Frances) - De Re Modality Entails De Re Vagueness"

Source: Rea - Material Constitution - A Reader

COMMENT:



"Johnston (Mark) - Constitution is Not Identity"

Source: Rea - Material Constitution - A Reader


Author’s Introduction
  1. Suppose that a statue1 of Goliath is made by fusing together two appropriately shaped pieces of clay and that after a few minutes, the artisan, frustrated with his work, dissolves the statue2 in a solvent which destroys clay and statue3 alike. Then a natural thing to say is that the careers of the statue4 and the lump or piece of clay which made it up are entirely coincident. The statue5 and the piece of clay came into being at the same time and ceased to be at the same time. Throughout their respective careers, the piece of clay constituted the statue6.
  2. Had the artisan despaired only of the arms and calves of Goliath and dissolved only them, replacing them with new pieces of appropriately molded clay, then we should say that distinct but not wholly distinct pieces of clay constituted the statue7 of Goliath over its lifetime. In this second case we naturally conclude that the statue8 is not absolutely identical with the whole piece of clay which originally constituted it, since the piece arguably did not survive the dissolving of significant parts of it, while the statue9 clearly did survive the dissolving; as is evidenced by the fact that the statue10 had new arms and calves attached to it.
  3. So also, it seems natural to conclude that even in the first case in which the original piece of clay constituted the statue11 throughout its entire career, the statue12 is not absolutely identical with the clay, since the statue13 could have survived certain changes which the piece of clay would not have survived, e.g. the changes described in the second case.
  4. Philosophers have gone to some lengths to resist this last conclusion. Thus David Lewis, Alan Gibbard, Anil Gupta and Denis Robinson all allege that something special about modal14 predication invalidates the argument to non-identity in the case of complete coincidence15. Concentrating on Lewis's way of putting the point, since it fits neatly into a familiar systematic way of thinking of modality16, the situation is supposed to be as follows17.


COMMENT:




In-Page Footnotes ("Johnston (Mark) - Constitution is Not Identity")

Footnote 15: See Footnote 17: The remarks that follow are adapted from "Lewis (David) - Counterparts of Persons and Their Bodies" (1971).



"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:



"Lewis (David) - Counterparts or Double Lives (Selections)"

Source: Lewis - On the Plurality of Worlds, 1986, Chapter 4


Comment
  1. The Selections are the whole1 of:-
    • 1. Good Questions and Bad, and
    • 5. Against Constancy
  2. There is also a useful footnote on the distinction between Genuine Modal2 Realism and Ersatz Modal3 Realism, presumably indebted to Chapter 3 ("Lewis (David) - Paradise on the Cheap?").


COMMENT:




In-Page Footnotes ("Lewis (David) - Counterparts or Double Lives (Selections)")

Footnote 1: So, the intervening sections:-
  • 2. Against Overlap
  • 3. Against Trans-World Individuals, and
  • 4. Against Haecceitism
are omitted.



"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:



"Myro (George) - Identity and Time"

Source: Rea - Material Constitution - A Reader

COMMENT: Included in "Look (Brandon C.) - The Metaphysics of Material Beings: Constitution, Persistence, and Identity".



"Rea (Michael) - Material Constitution: Preface, Introduction & Appendix (A Formal Statement of the Problem)"

Source: Rea - Material Constitution - A Reader

COMMENT: Included in "Look (Brandon C.) - The Metaphysics of Material Beings: Constitution, Persistence, and Identity".



"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:



"Van Inwagen (Peter) - Material Constitution: Foreword"

Source: Rea - Material Constitution - A Reader

COMMENT:



"Wiggins (David) - On Being in the Same Place at the Same Time"

Source: Rea - Material Constitution - A Reader


Author’s Abstract1
  1. (This paper) considers the possibility or impossibility of the co-occupation by distinct things of the same place at the same time.
  2. It lays particular emphasis upon the distinction between a proper substance and an aggregation of material components.

Notes
  1. S is the principle2 that “Two things cannot completely occupy the same place / volume / sub-volume at the same time”.
  2. Apparent exceptions that are fairly easy to explain3 include:-
    • Proper Parts: My forearm only partly4 occupies the volume occupied by my body. The apparent exception “doesn’t count”.
    • Sponges: The point is to “mingle” two things – in this case a sponge and a body of water – and then to recover them both afterwards. The things have to persist, or we can’t say they are two things5 in the same place at the same time. Wiggins also considers (nomologically counterfactual) mingling as the atomic and subatomic level6. This “doesn’t count” either.
  3. Wiggins thinks he can resolve but one of the “difficult” questions arising from all this, but S is still inadequately formulated.
  4. The “is” of Constitution: Wiggins considers a tree7 (T) and its constituent matter (W). T and W occupy the same place at the same time, but are non-identical – because of Leibniz’s Law and the fact that they have different persistence conditions8.
    • W survives T’s decomposition into cellulose molecules, while T does not.
    • T survives the loss of some of the constituent cells of W, in the course of organic change, while W does not.
  5. Wiggins thinks it’d be a “trick” to define an aggregate W1 with persistence9 conditions exactly the same as the tree’s. A trick because all you’ve done is define a tree.
  6. Wiggins spells this out: we have “contrived” an identity between stuff (W) and substance (T) by introducing a concept foreign to things falling under the “stuff” category – namely organisation.
  7. Wiggins has a footnote saying that more can be said about identity and the mereological treatment of aggregates – and refers us to "Wiggins (David) - Identity & Spatio-temporal Continuity", pp. 11-13, 67-8, 7210.
  8. Wiggins has an excellent footnote11 illustrating – for artefacts – the difference between the stuff and the artefact from which the stuff is made. He proves, by transitivity, that the artefact cannot be identical to its stuff – in this case sweater, wool and socks – since the sweater is not identical to the socks, neither can be identical to the wool from which – at different times – they were made. The stuff (wool) must pre-exist the fabrication of the artefact, but the artefact cannot pre-exist its fabrication.
  9. However, he goes on to argue that none of this implies that T is something over and above W. His definition of over and above is open to objection12, in that he wants it to mean merely that there are no (material) parts of T that are not in W, or as he says, W fully exhausts13 the matter of T.
  10. Wiggins’s understanding of constitution14 includes:-
    • The “is” of material constitution is not the “is” of identity.
    • “x is constituted of y” is equivalent to:-
      … “x is made of y”, or
      … “x consists of y”, or
      … “x is wholly composed of y”, or
      … “x is merely y”, or
      … “x merely consists of y”.
  11. Wiggins notes that if T = W is a consequence of materialism, then Wiggins is not a materialist15, as he denies this equation.
  12. Wiggins claims that his denial that T=W only puts an uninteresting16 obstacle in the way of reducing botany to organic chemistry.
  13. Wiggins leaves T & W with the remark that what he’s shown is similar to a philosophical commonplace of assigning objects to different logical types. He prefers his approach, however, because it makes a smaller claims (he says) for two reasons:-
    • 1. It allows for a clear statement of the connection between objects and their constituting stuff, and
    • 2. The Leibnizian principle for the predicative “is” (as opposed to the constitutive “is”) is highly intelligible17
      If and only if A is an f (or is phi) then A is identical with an f (or with one of the phi-things); and if and only if A is one of the f's (or phi-things) then it must share all its properties with that f (or phi-thing).
  14. There is more to be said on the topic of “ranges of significance” – we’re referred to Russell’s simple or ramified Theory of Types18.
  15. The lesson from T & W is that we need to reformulate principle S as S*, namely
      S*: No two things of the same kind can occupy the same volume at exactly the same time
  16. Wiggins’s gloss on kind is “… satisfy (the same) sortal19 or substance concept”.
  17. He thinks there are at least three reasons for thinking this a necessary truth:-
    • 1. Space can be mapped only by its occupants.
    • 2.
    • 3.
  18. "Wiggins (David) & Woods (Michael J.) - Symposium: The Individuation of Things and Places"
  19. Wiggins closes with an application of principle S* to the problem of Tib and Tibbles20. He attributes the puzzle to William of Sherwood, via Geach21
  20. … to be completed.


COMMENT:




In-Page Footnotes ("Wiggins (David) - On Being in the Same Place at the Same Time")

Footnote 1: Footnote 2: It is something of an open question whether S is a physical or metaphysical question. Wiggins subsequently considers counterfactual physical circumstances which would allow indefinitely fine commingling of two distinct things, but this still leaves him thinking there’s a problem to solve. So, he thinks there’s an a priori metaphysical issue at stake.

Footnote 3: What’s the compulsion to believe S? Worries often have to do with language (how would our counting work – or else various epistemological claims; these are Olson’s worries about persons and animals occupying the same place at the same time), but the worries ought to run deeper than this.

Footnote 4: The conundrums of Dion / Theon and Tib / Tibbles are relevant here.

Footnote 5: Is there an issue caused by the supposed possibility of intermittent existence?

Footnote 6: Something like the case of miscible fluids would only take us to the molecular level – but at least that’s further than sponges.

Footnote 7: A change from “the statue and the clay” (See Goliath and Lump1 in "Gibbard (Allan) - Contingent Identity", etc.) – and better, since artefacts might be a special case where human concerns and arbitrariness muddy the waters.

Footnote 9: I’d thought of aggregates having less strict persistence conditions than those demanded by mereological essentialism – a heap that has lost a grain is still the same heap – but Wiggins picks up on this. That said, his “take” is an extreme one for the sake of argument, but you could define persistence conditions for aggregates that didn’t mirror those of organic objects, and that were, therefore, less contrived.

Footnote 10: Footnote 11:
  • There are obvious connections to the Ship of Thesesus paradox (Click here for Note) here: we could repair the sweater over time, and save the replaced threads, and make socks out of them.
  • This is interesting – there’s no temptation to paradox in this case (as socks can’t be identical to a sweater) – but if we made the threads into another sweater, the paradox would return.
  • This, I think, shows that the stuff returns to the universal pool of stuff, and carries no memory of its previous form with it.
  • Yet we’re still left with disassembled and reassembled watches, bicycles etc. Yet they aren’t disassembled into stuff, but into parts, which retain part of the form of the artefact.
  • So, the question is whether the material that makes ships and sweaters are parts or stuff. It would seem that pieces of wool have no relevant form, while planks of wood do – or might. Some planks will be interchangeable, while others are specific to function. Watch and bicycle parts, however, are very specific to place and function.
Footnote 12:
  • I think the disagreement is only semantic. It’s common sense that “the whole is more than the sum of its parts”, but Wiggins doesn’t want to deny this. He’s simply speaking mereologically.
  • The parts of the whole either support one another (as in the proverb) or else have form or structure.
  • This structure may explain the suggestion that the heap of sand in my garden has different persistence conditions to a mere aggregate (which – one presumes – has mereologically essentialist persistence conditions – as does a set).
Footnote 13:
  • I’m uncomfortable about this. If (counterfactually) we had immaterial souls, then we would – according to normal parlance – be something “over and above” the matter that constitutes our bodies, yet the matter under consideration (that of our bodies) would be “exhausted” – no more is needed.
  • Also, Wiggins takes it that T is “nothing over and above” W if T is constituted of W and nothing else. Yet, form is very important. Are diamonds “nothing over and above” the carbon atoms that constitute them? Would Wiggins say “yes”?
Footnote 15: I find this paragraph very difficult to construe. I repeat it here for reference:-
    If it is a materialistic thesis that T = W, then my denial that T = W is a form of denial of materialism. It is interesting how very uninteresting an obstacle these Leibnizian difficulties-real though they are-put in the way of the reduction of botany and all its primitive terms to organic chemistry or to physics. (If it does not follow from T # W that trees are something over and above their matter, how much the less can it follow that they are immanent or transcendent or supervenient or immaterial beings. This is obviously absurd for trees. A Leibnizian disproof of strict identity could never be enough to show something so intriguing or obscure.) I should expect there to be equally valid, and from the point of view of ontology almost equally unexciting, difficulties in the reduction of persons to flesh and bones ("Wiggins (David) - Identity & Spatio-temporal Continuity", p. 57), in psychophysical event-materialism, and in the materialisms which one might formulate in other categories (such as the Aristotelian categories property and state or the categories situation and fact). Over and above is one question, identity is another. But of course the only stuff there is is stuff.
Footnote 16: What does he mean by this? That the obstacle is illusory?

Footnote 17: This seems to be a restatement of Leibniz’s Law in sortal terms.

Footnote 18: Presumably, this survives Russell’s failure to reduce mathematics to logic. Wiggins gives the following references:- Footnote 21: He thanks Geach for allowing him to use the material, but gives no reference. For some reason, he doesn’t mention the ancient Dion and Theon, which is of exactly the same form as Tib and Tibbles.



"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:



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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