Most four-dimensionalists, including both worm and stage theorists, endorse mereological universalism, the thesis that any class of objects has a fusion. But the marriage of fourdimensionalism and universalism is unfortunate and unprofitable: it creates a recalcitrant problem for stage theory’s account of lingering properties, such as writing ‘War and Piece’ and traveling across the tennis court, which take time to be instantiated. This makes it necessary to impose a natural restriction on diachronic composition.
On stage theory, ordinary continuants are instantaneous stages which persist by exduring—by bearing temporal counterpart relations to other such stages. Exduring objects lack temporal extension and there is a sense in which they are wholly present at multiple instants. How then is exdurance different from endurance? I offer a definition of ‚exdurance’ that clearly sets it apart from other modes of persistence.
On the B-theory of time, the experiences we have throughout our conscious lives have the same ontological status: they all tenselessly occur at their respective dates. But we do not seem to experience all of them on the same footing. In fact, we tend to believe that only our present experiences are real, to the exclusion of the past and future ones. The B-theorist has to maintain that this belief is an illusion and explain the origin of the illusion. The (...) paper argues that this cannot be properly done unless one rejects endurantism in favor of the stage view of persistence. (shrink)
Four-dimensionalism, or perdurantism, the view that temporally extended objects persist through time by having (spatio-)temporal parts or stages, includes two varieties, the worm theory and the stage theory. According to the worm theory, perduring objects are four-dimensional wholes occupying determinate regions of spacetime and having temporal parts, or stages, each of them confined to a particular time. The stage theorist, however, claims, not that perduring objects have stages, but that the fundamental entities of the perdurantist ontology are stages. I argue (...) that considerations of special relativity favor the worm theory over the stage theory. (shrink)
The eternalist endurantist and perdurantist theories of persistence through time come in various versions, namely the two versions of perdurantism: the worm view and the stage view , and the two versions of endurantism: indexicalism and adverbialism . Using as a starting point the instructive case of what is depicted by photographs, I will examine these four views, and compare them, with some interesting results. Notably, we will see that two traditional enemies—the perdurantist worm view and the endurantist theories—are (...) more like allies : they are much less different than what is usually thought, and some alleged points of central disagreement fall prey to closer scrutiny. The aim of this paper is to examine carefully all those points, and to call attention to the places where the real differences between these views lie. I will then turn to the perdurantist stage view, and claim that with respect to some central issues it is the view that is the most different from the other three, but that in some places the reason why it different is also the reason why it is less satisfactory. (shrink)
How do ordinary objects persist through time and across possible worlds ? How do they manage to have their temporal and modal properties ? These are the questions adressed in this book which is a "guided tour of theories of persistence". The book is divided in two parts. In the first, the two traditional accounts of persistence through time (endurantism and perdurantism) are combined with presentism and eternalism to yield four different views, and their variants. The resulting views are then (...) examined in turn, in order to see which combinations are appealing and which are not. It is argued that the 'worm view' variant of eternalist perdurantism is superior to the other alternatives. In the second part of the book, the same strategy is applied to the combinations of views about persistence across possible worlds (trans-world identity, counterpart theory, modal perdurants) and views about the nature of worlds, mainly modal realism and abstractionism. Not only all the traditional and well-known views, but also some more original ones, are examined and their pros and cons are carefully weighted. Here again, it is argued that perdurance seems to be the best strategy available. (shrink)
Most contemporary metaphysicians are sceptical about the reality of familiar objects such as dogs and trees, people and desks, cells and stars. They prefer an ontology of the spatially tiny or temporally tiny. Tiny microparticles 'dog-wise arranged' explain the appearance, they say, that there are dogs; microparticles obeying microphysics collectively cause anything that a baseball appears to cause; temporal stages collectively sustain the illusion of enduring objects that persist across changes. Crawford L. Elder argues that all such attempts to 'explain (...) away' familiar objects project downwards, onto the tiny entities, structures and features of familiar objects themselves. He contends that sceptical metaphysicians are thus employing shadows of familiar objects, while denying that the entities which cast those shadows really exist. He argues that the shadows are indeed really there, because their sources - familiar objects - are mind-independently real. (shrink)
I introduce a puzzle about contact and de re temporal predication in relativistic spacetime. In particular, I describe an apparent counterexample to the following principle, roughly stated: if B is never in a position to say ‘I was touching A, I am touching A, and I will be touching A’, then (time travel aside) A is never in a position to say ‘I was touching B, I am touching B, and I will be touching B’. In the case I present, (...) the most that A is ever in a position to say is: ‘I am now touching B, but this is the only instant at which this will ever be so’. B, on the other hand, can say: ‘I was formerly touching A, I am currently touching A, and I will in the future be touching A’. (And neither object is a time traveler.). (shrink)
This thesis is about the conceptualization of persistence of physical, middle-sized objects within the theoretical framework of the revisionary ‘B-theory’ of time. According to the B-theory, time does not flow, but is an extended and inherently directed fourth dimension along which the history of the universe is ‘laid out’ once and for all. It is a widespread view among philosophers that if we accept the B-theory, the commonsensical ‘endurance theory’ of persistence will have to be rejected. The endurance theory says (...) that objects persist through time by being wholly present at distinct times as numerically the same entity. Instead of endurantism, it has been argued, we have to adopt either ‘perdurantism’ or the ‘stage theory’. Perdurantism is the theory that objects are four-dimensional ‘space-time worms’ persisting through time by having distinct temporal parts at distinct times. The stage theory says that objects are instantaneous temporal parts (stages) of space-time worms, persisting by having distinct temporal counterparts at distinct times. In the thesis, it is argued that no good arguments have been provided for the conclusion that we are obliged to drop the endurance theory by acceptance of the B-theory. This conclusion stands even if the endurance theory incorporates the claim that objects endure through intrinsic change. It is also shown that perdurantism and the stage theory come with unwelcome consequences. -/- Paper I demonstrates that the main arguments for the view that objects cannot endure in B-time intrinsically unchanged fail. Papers II and III do the same with respect to the traditional arguments against endurance through intrinsic change in B-time. Paper III also contains a detailed account of the semantics of the tenseless copula, which occurs frequently in the debate. The contention of Paper IV is that four-dimensional space-time worms, as traditionally understood, are not suited to take dispositional predicates. In Paper V, it is shown that the stage theory needs to introduce an overabundance of persistence-concepts, many of which will have to be simultaneously applicable to a single object (qua falling under a single sortal), in order for the theory to be consistent. The final article, Paper VI, investigates the sense in which persistence can, as is sometimes suggested, be a ‘conventional matter’. It also asks whether alleged cases of ‘conventional persistence’ create trouble for the endurance theory. It is argued that conventions can only enter at a trivial semantic level, and that the endurance theory is no more threatened by such conventions than are its rivals. (shrink)
I’ll start by giving a very brief summary of Sider’s position and will identify some points on which my own position differs from his. I’ll then raise four issues, viz., how to articulate the 3-dimensionalist view, the trade-offs between Ted’s stage view of persistence and endurance with respect to intrinsic properties, the endurantist’s response to the argument from vagueness, and finally more general questions about what’s at stake in the debate. I don’t believe that anything I say raises insurmountable problems (...) for Sider’s view; and in fact, I’m sure he’s in a better position to defend his view more convincingly than I’m able to defend mine. However, there is plenty worth discussing further. (shrink)
Katherine Hawley explores and compares three theories of persistence -- endurance, perdurance, and stage theories - investigating the ways in which they attempt to account for the world around us. Having provided valuable clarification of its two main rivals, she concludes by advocating stage theory.
David Lewis's cohabitation theory suffered damaging criticism from Derek Parfit. Though many have defended versions of Lewis's theory Parfit's criticism has not been answered. This paper shows how to defend the cohabitation theory against Parfit's criticism.
In the contemporary debate about the nature of persistence, stage theory is the view that ordinary objects (artefacts, animals, persons, etc.) are instantaneous and persist by being suitably related to other instantaneous objects. In this paper I focus on the issue of what stage theorists should say about the semantics of ordinary proper names, like ‘Socrates’ or ‘London’. I consider the remarks that stage theorists actually make about this issue, present some problems they face, and finally offer what I take (...) to be the best alternative available for them. (shrink)
Four-dimensionalism, as I’ll use the term, is the doctrine that reality is spread out in time as well as space.1 Just as objects that are located at multiple regions of space contain parts confined to those regions of space, so objects that are located at multiple regions of time contain parts — temporal parts — that are confined to those regions of time. (Or better: an object that occupies an extended spatiotemporal region R has parts confined to the various subregions (...) of R; but I’ll ignore this complication henceforth.) Most who accept this ontology of perduring objects, as they are often called, identify the continuants of our everyday ontology with “space-time worms” — mereological sums of stages from different times. Elsewhere (1996) I have proposed a different version of four-dimensionalism, which identifies continuants with the stages themselves, and which analyses de re temporal predication with a temporal version of modal counterpart theory (Lewis, 1968, 1971). On this view, a current assertion of ‘Clinton was indiscreet’ is true iff the (current) referent of ‘Clinton’ — a stage — has an indiscreet temporal counterpart in the past. The temporal counterpart relation is the same “genidentity” or “unity” relation used by the worm theorist to unify the successive stages of continuing space-time worms. In my 1996 I supported this view by appeal to its ability to resolve various philosophical puzzles, including the paradoxes of material constitution and Derek Parfit’s (1971) puzzle about identity and what matters; the purpose of the present note is to mention one other line of argument. A widely discussed contemporary argument for temporal parts is David Lewis’s argument from temporary intrinsics, according to which only the fourdimensionalist can explain the phenomenon of intrinsic change.2 I am now straight-shaped, but will fail to be straight-shaped in the future. There is an.. (shrink)
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”.1 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. (shrink)
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.1 Others accept “three dimensionalism”, rejecting stages in favor of the notion that persons “endure”, or are “wholly present” throughout their lives.2 I aim to defend an apparently radical third view: not (...) only do I accept person stages; I claim that we are stages.3 Likewise for other objects of our everyday ontology: statues are statue-stages, coins are coin-stages, etc. 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.. (shrink)
The stage theory is a four-dimensional account of persistence motivatedby the worm theory's inability to account for our intuitions in thecases involving coinciding objects. Like the worm theory, it claimsthat there are objects spread out in time, but unlike the worm theory,it argues that these spacetime worms are not familiar particulars liketables and chairs. Rather, familiar particulars are the instantaneoustemporal slices of worms. In order to explain our intuitions that particulars persist for more than an instant, the stage theory drawson (...) the counterpart theory of modal possibilism, which it is supposedto parallel. In this paper I show how the stage theory presupposes thattime can be divided into instants, which I call the atomistic view oftime. I do this by laying out an alternative theory of the nature oftime, the gunky view, and show that if time is gunky the stage theorycollapses into the worm theory. The deeper problem is that the merepossibility of gunky time would cause the stage theory's parallels topossibilism to break down. I therefore conclude that the stage theoryis committed to the view that time is necessarily atomistic. Finally,in the last section I argue that the fact that the stage theory rulesout a priori the possibility of time being gunky gives us reason toreject it as an account of persistence. (shrink)
According to Sider’s stage theory a subject about to undergo personal fission should expect to experience each outcome simultaneously as distinct persons. How is the subject to make sense of this ? I argue that their most paradigmatically self-interested future-directed behaviour, betting for personal gain, ought to be exactly the same as in equivalent games of chance where the possible outcomes correspond to the fission output branches. So this novel form of expectancy, albeit strange, can be a reliable guide to (...) action. (shrink)
Standard lore has it that a proper name is a temporally rigid designator. It picks out the same entity at every time at which it picks out an entity at all. If the entity in question is an enduring continuant then we know what this means, though we are also stuck with a host of metaphysical puzzles concerning endurance itself. If the entity in question is a perdurant then the rigidity claim is trivial, though one is left wondering how it (...) is that different speakers ever manage to pick out one and the same entity when a host of suitable, overlapping candidates are available. But what if the entity in question is neither a continuant nor a perdurant? What if the things we talk about in ordinary language are time-bound entities that cannot truly be said to persist through time, or stage sequences whose unity resides exclusively in our minds--like the “waves” at the stadium or the characters of a cartoon? In such cases the rigidity claim can’t be right and a counterpart-theoretic semantics seems required. Is that bad? I say it isn’t. And it had better not be, if that turns out to be the best metaphysical option we have. (shrink)
This paper defends stage theory against the argument from diachronic counting. It argues that stage theorists can appeal to quantifier domain restriction in order to accommodate intuitions about diachronic counting sentences. Two approaches involving domain restriction are discussed. According to the first, domains of counting are usually restricted to stages at the time of utterance. This approach explains intuitions in many cases, but is theoretically costly and delivers wrong counts if diachronic counting is combined with fission or fusion. On the (...) second approach, domains of counting are usually restricted in an indeterminate way, so as to include at most one member of any maximal class of counterpart-interrelated stages (with respect to a certain utterance). This view can accommodate all the relevant intuitions about counting sentences, and it fits well with a new stage-theoretic view of reference that allows speakers to refer to both present and past stages. (shrink)
In this paper I explore how the tenseless copula is to be interpreted in sentences of the form “ a is F at t ”, where “ a ” denotes a persisting, changeable object, “ F ” stands for a prima facie intrinsic property and “ t ” for a B-time. I argue that the interpretation of the copula depends on the logical role assigned to the time clause. Having rejected the idea that the time clause is to be treated (...) as a sentence operator, I argue: (1) that if “at t ” is thought of as being associated with “ a ” or “ F ”, then the tenseless copula is most plausibly read as an “is” simpliciter ; and (2) that if “at t ” is treated as being associated with the copula, then the tenseless copula is most plausibly understood as expressing a disjunction of tensed copulas. I end the paper by explaining the importance of the issue. I indicate the ramifications interpretation of the tenseless copula has for the so-called problem of temporary intrinsics. (shrink)
An alternative to the standard endurance/perdurance accounts of persistence has recently been developed: the stage theory (Sider, T. Four-Dimensionalism: an Ontology of Persistence and Time. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001; Hawley, K. How Things Persist. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001). According to this theory, a persisting object is identical with an instantaneous stage (temporal part). On the basis of Leibniz's Law, I argue that stage theorists either have to deny the alleged identity (i.e., give up their central thesis) or hold (...) that stages are both instantaneous and continuants. I subsequently show that, although stage theory is flexible enough to accommodate the latter claim, the cost for accommodating it is an excessive proliferation of persistence concepts. (shrink)
I argue that ordinary objects are fusions of past and present, but not future, temporal parts. This theory provides the neatest solution to some puzzles concerning intrinsic properties, and is supported by some surprising linguistic data. (This paper is probably inconsistent with some other papers I've written, but the line it runs is at least amusing and original.).
Most people who believe in temporal parts believe that the referents of our ordinary referring terms, like Bill Clinton, or that table, are fusions of temporal parts from past, present and future times. Call these fusions worms, and the theory that the referents of ordinary referring terms (ordinary objects) the worm theory. Buying the metaphysical theory of temporal parts does not immediately imply that we must buy the worm theory. Theodore Sider (1996, 2000), for example, has suggested that these ordinary (...) referring terms just pick out a single, instantaneous, temporal part. Sider’s theory, called the stage theory, solves some pressing philosophical problems, including the problem of temporary intrinsics. But the stage theory has several difficulties of its own, especially what I will call the problem of long-term intrinsics. I argue for a rival theory, the growing individuals theory. On this theory, the referents of our ordinary referring terms have past and present temporal parts, but not future temporal parts. This theory best accounts for our intuitions about which intrinsic properties ordinary objects have. (shrink)
Stage theorists invoke the idea of counterpart relations to make sense of how objects are able to persist despite their claim that an object is identical with a single instantaneous stage. According to stage theorists, an object persists if and only if it has a later counterpart that bears the appropriate counterpart relation of identity to it. Whilst objects can and do persist, stages cannot and do not. This seems to amount to a refutation of Leibnizâs law. Stage theorists think (...) that the nature of the counterpart relation invoked depends on how it is that the object is referred to. In this paper, I argue that the context sensitivity that they invoke here gives stage theorists a response to the Leibnizâs Law Problem. (shrink)