Tobias Hansson Wahlberg argues in a recent article (2009) that the truth of “Hesperus is Phosphorus” depends on the assumption that the endurance theory of persistence is true. The statement is not true (or at least can reasonably be doubted), he argues, if one assumes (a) the theory of persistence according to which objects are four-dimensional entities, persisting through perdurance, i.e. by having temporal parts that are numerically distinct, and (b) the thesis of unrestricted mereological composition (UMC), that is, that (...) any two things, however scattered in space or time, compose a sum. (shrink)
I examine the issue of persistence over time in the context of the special theory of relativity (SR). The four-dimensional ontology of perduring objects is clearly favored by SR. But it is a different question if and to what extent this ontology is required, and the rival endurantist ontology ruled out, by this theory. In addressing this question, I take the essential idea of endurantism, that objects are wholly present at single moments of time, and argue that it commits one (...) to unacceptable conclusions regarding coexistence, in the context of SR. I then propose and discuss a plausible account of coexistence for perduring objects, which is free of these defects. This leaves the endurantist room for some maneuvers. I consider them and show that they do not really help the endurantist out. She can accommodate the notion of coexistence in the relativistic framework only at the cost of renouncing central endurantist intuitions. (shrink)
I offer an argument in defense of four-dimensionalism, the view that objects are temporally, as well as spatially extended. The argument is of the inference-to-the-best-explanation variety and is based on relativistic considerations. It deals with the situation in which one and the same object has different three-dimensional shapes at the same time and proceeds by asking what sort of thing it must be in order to present itself in such different ways in various “perspectives” (associated with moving reference frames) without (...) being different from itself. I argue that the best answer is that the object must be four-dimensional. It will then have differing 3D shapes in different perspectives because such shapes are intrinsic properties of its 3D parts. (shrink)
In an earlier work I developed an argument favoring one view of persistence (viz., perdurance) over its rivals, based on considerations of the relativity of three-dimensional spatial shapes of physical objects in Minkowski spacetime. The argument has since come under criticism (in the works of Theodore Sider, Kristie Miller, Ian Gibson, Oliver Pooley, and Thomas Sattig). Two related topics, explanatory virtues and explanatory relevance, are central to these critical discussions. In this paper I deal with these topics directly and respond (...) to my critics by offering a new perspective on the issue. (shrink)
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.
In two earlier works (Balashov, 2000a: Philosophical Studies 99, 129–166; 2000b: Philosophy of Science 67 (Suppl), S549–S562), I have argued that considerations based on special relativity and the notion of coexistence favor the perdurance view of persistence over its endurance rival. Cody Gilmore (2002: Philosophical Studies 109, 241–263) has subjected my argument to an insightful three fold critique. In the first part of this paper I respond briefly to Gilmore’s first two objections. I then grant his observation that anyone who (...) can resist the first objection is liable to succumb to the third one. This, however, opens a way to other closely related relativistic arguments against endurantism that are immune to all three objections and, in addition, throw new light on a number of important issues in the ontology of persistence. I develop two such novel arguments in the second half of the paper. (shrink)
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)
I offer a new criticism of the argument from vagueness to four-dimensionalism [Sider 2001. The argument is modelled after an older argument for mereological universalism [Lewis 1986 and may be looked upon as a tightened-up and extended version of the latter. While I agree with other critics [Koslicki 2003; Markosian 2004 that the argument from vagueness fails precisely because of this affinity, my recipe for dealing with it is different. I reject the assumption, shared by Sider with his opponents, that (...) synchronic composition and 'minimal diachronic fusion' are sufficiently similar to use considerations inspired by the analysis of the former to bear on the latter. My objection to a crucial premise of the argument from vagueness turns on the relevant aspect of dissimilarity between these two cases. (shrink)
Hud Hudson has recently suggested a scenario intended to show that, assuming the doctrine of temporal parts and a sufficiently liberal view of composition, there are material objects that move faster than light. I accept Hudson's conditional but contend that his modus ponens is less plausible that the corresponding modus tollens. Reversed in this way, the argument stemming from the scenario raises the cost of mereological liberalism and advances the case for a principled restriction on diachronic composition.
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)
Although considerations based on contemporary space-time theories, such as special and general relativity, seem highly relevant to the debate about persistence, their significance has not been duly appreciated. My goal in this paper is twofold: (1) to reformulate the rival positions in the debate (i.e., endurantism [three-dimensionalism] and perdurantism [four-dimensionalism, the doctrine of temporal parts]) in the framework of special relativistic space-time; and (2) to argue that, when so reformulated, perdurantism exhibits explanatory advantages over endurantism. The argument builds on the (...) fact that four-dimensional entities extended in space as well as time are relativistically invariant in a way three-dimensional entities are not. (shrink)
The nature of persistence of physical objects over time has been intensely debated in contemporary metaphysics. The two opposite views are widely known as "endurantism" (or "three-dimensionalism") and "perdurantism" ("four-dimensionalism"). According to the former, objects are extended in three spatial dimensions and persist through time by being wholly present at any moment at which they exist. On the rival account, objects are extended both in space and time and persist by having "temporal parts," no part being present at more than (...) one time. Relativistic considerations seem highly relevant to this debate. But they have played little role in it so far. This paper seeks to remedy that situation. I argue that considerations based on the special theory of relativity and the notion of coexistence favor perdurantism over endurantism. (shrink)
I examine the issue of persistence over time in thecontext of the special theory of relativity (SR). Thefour-dimensional ontology of perduring objects isclearly favored by SR. But it is a different questionif and to what extent this ontology is required, andthe rival endurantist ontology ruled out, by thistheory. In addressing this question, I take theessential idea of endurantism, that objects are whollypresent at single moments of time, and argue that itcommits one to unacceptable conclusions regardingcoexistence, in the context of SR. (...) I then propose anddiscuss a plausible account of coexistence forperduring objects, which is free of these defects. This leaves the endurantist room for some maneuvers. I consider them and show that they do not really helpthe endurantist out. She can accommodate the notionof coexistence in the relativistic framework only atthe cost of renouncing central endurantist intuitions. (shrink)
I offer an argument in defense of four-dimensionalism, the view that objects are temporally, as well as spatially extended. The argument is of the inference-to-the-best-explanation variety and is based on relativistic considerations. It deals with the situation in which one and the same object has different three-dimensional shapes at the same time and proceeds by asking what sort of thing it must be in order to present itself in such different ways in various "perspectives" (associated with moving reference frames) without (...) being different from itself. I argue that the best answer is that the object must be four-dimensional. It will then have differing 3D shapes in different perspectives because such shapes are intrinsic properties of its 3D parts. (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)
Is there an entity such that it can be in two places at the same time ? According to one traditional view, properties can, since they are immanent universals. But what about objects such as a person or a table ? Common sense seems to say that, unlike properties, objects are not multiply locatable. In this paper, I will argue first of all that endurantism entails a consequence that is quite bizarre, namely, that objects are universals, while properties are particulars. (...) I then conclude by examining and rejecting two theories according to which objects can wholly be in two places at the same time. (shrink)
If ordinary particulars are bundles of properties, and if properties are said to be universals, then three well-known objections arise : no particular can change, all particulars have all of their properties essentially (even the most insignificant ones), and there cannot be two numerically distinct but qualitatively indiscernible particulars. In this paper, I try to make a little headway on these issues and see how the objections can be met, if one accepts a certain view about persistence through time and (...) across possible worlds – namely, four-dimensionalism and its modal analogue. The paper is especially devoted to the second and third of the three objections. (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)
The paper defends a combination of perdurantism with mereological universalism by developing semantics of temporary predications of the sort ’some P is/was/will be (a) Q’. We argue that, in addition to the usual application of causal and other restrictions on sortals, the grammatical form of such statements allows for rather different regimentations along three separate dimensions, according to: (a) whether ‘P’ and ‘Q’ are being used as phase or substance sortal terms, (b) whether ‘is’, ‘was’, and ‘will be’ are (...) the ‘is’, ‘was’, ‘will be’ of identity or of constitution, and (c) whether ‘Q’ is being used as a subject or predicate term. We conclude that this latitude is beneficial, as it conforms with linguistic reality (i.e., the multiple uses actually in place) and also enables one to turn what is ordinarily perceived as a problem for universalist perdurantism viz., a commitment to all sorts of weird and gerrymandered temporally extended entities, into an advantage, for the richness in questions allows us to make sense of the many different readings of sentences of the same grammatical form. (shrink)
Four-dimensionalism is the thesis that everyday objects, such as you and me, are space-time worms that persist through time by having temporal parts none of which is identical to the object itself. Objects are aggregates or sums of such temporal parts. The main virtue of fourdimensionalism is that it solves—or does away with—the problem of identity through change.1 The main charge raised against it is that it is inconsistent with the thesis according to which there is change in the world.2 (...) If this charge could be sustained, then we would need compelling arguments in support of the view that things are four-dimensional, since the view that there is no change in the world conflicts with so many of our most well-supported common-sense beliefs. In what follows, however, I want to show that, contrary to what is usually believed, fourdimensionalism does not entail a changeless world. (shrink)
This paper considers the question whether a psychological approach to personal identity can be formulated within an endurantist, as opposed to four-dimensionalist, framework. Trenton Merricks has argued that this cannot be done. I argue to the contrary: a perfectly coherent endurantist version of the psychological approach can indeed be formulated.
The rotating discs argument (RDA) against perdurantism has been mostly discussed by metaphysicians, though the argument of course appeals to ideas from classical mechanics, especially about rotation. In contrast, I assess the RDA from the perspective of the philosophy of physics. I argue for three main conclusions. The first conclusion is that the RDA can be formulated more strongly than is usually recognized: it is not necessary to ‘imagine away’ the dynamical effects of rotation. The second is that in (...) general relativity, the RDA fails because of frame-dragging. The third conclusion is that even setting aside general relativity, the strong formulation of the RDA can after all be defeated, namely, by the perdurantist taking objects in classical mechanics (whether point-particles or continuous bodies) to have only temporally extended (i.e. non-instantaneous) temporal parts, which immediately blocks the RDA. Admittedly, this version of perdurantism defines persistence in a weaker sense of ‘definition’ than pointilliste versions that aim to define persistence assuming only instantaneous temporal parts. But I argue that temporally extended temporal parts (i) can do the jobs within the endurantism–perdurantism debate that the perdurantist wants temporal parts to do and (ii) are supported by both classical and quantum mechanics. Introduction The story so far 2.1 The RDA 2.2 Intrinsic properties and the idea of velocity 2.2.1 The intrinsic–extrinsic distinction 2.2.2 Velocity to the rescue? 2.3 ‘Naturalism’ 2.4 The accompaniments of rotation 2.5 Two kinds of reply: against the consensus Describing rotation 3.1 Rotation is kinematic 3.2 Beware of rigidity 3.3 An improved RDA: allowing the actual accompaniments 3.4 The RDA fails in general relativity Perdurantism without tears: the classical case 4.1 Rejecting instantaneous temporal parts 4.2 Replying to the RDA 4.2.1 ‘Kinematics’ 4.2.2 ‘Dynamics’ 4.2.3 An ‘anti-pointilliste’ objection and reply 4.3 Intrinsic properties of non-instantaneous temporal parts 4.3.1 Can the perdurantist appeal to them? 4.3.2 Temporal intrinsicality at an instant is rare 4.3.3 A better reason for temporal intrinsicality 4.4 Non-instantaneous parts can do the jobs 4.4.1 Humean supervenience revisited 4.4.2 The problem of change 4.4.3 Puzzles of coincidence 4.5 Instantaneous velocity is hardly extrinsic Support from decoherence in quantum theory 5.1 Classical and quantum: relativizing the intrinsic–extrinsic distinction 5.1.1 Unitarity: momentum as temporally intrinsic 5.2 Position and existence as nomically extrinsic. (shrink)
This paper forms part of a wider campaign: to deny pointillisme, the doctrine that a physical theory's fundamental quantities are defined at points of space or of spacetime, and represent intrinsic properties of such points or point-sized objects located there; so that properties of spatial or spatiotemporal regions and their material contents are determined by the point-by-point facts. More specifically, this paper argues against pointillisme about the concept of velocity in classical mechanics; especially against proposals by Tooley, Robinson and Lewis. (...) A companion paper argues against pointillisme about (chrono)-geometry, as proposed by Bricker. To avoid technicalities, I conduct the argument almost entirely in the context of "Newtonian" ideas about space and time, and the classical mechanics of point-particles, i.e. extensionless particles moving in a void. But both the debate and my arguments carry over to relativistic physics. Introduction The wider campaign 2.1 Connecting physics and metaphysics 2.1.1 Avoiding controversy about the intrinsic–extrinsic distinction 2.1.2 Distinction from three mathematical distinctions 2.2 Classical mechanics is not pointilliste, and can be perdurantist 2.2.1 Two versions of pointillisme 2.2.2 Two common claims 2.2.3 My contrary claims 2.3 In more detail... 2.3.1 Four violations of pointillisme 2.3.2 For perdurantism Velocity as intrinsic? 3.1 Can properties represented by vectors be intrinsic to a point? 3.2 Orthodox velocity is extrinsic but local 3.2.1 A question and a debate 3.2.2 The verdict 3.3 Against intrinsic velocity 3.3.1 A common view—and a common problem 3.3.2 Tooley's proposal and his arguments 3.3.3 Tooley's further discussion "Shadow velocities": Lewis and Robinson 4.1 The proposal 4.2 Criticism: the vector field remains unspecified 4.3 Avoiding the presupposition of persistence, using Hilbert's symbol 4.4 Comparison with Robinson and Lewis. (shrink)
The rotating discs argument (RDA) against perdurantism has been mostly discussed by metaphysicians, though the argument of course appeals to ideas from classical mechanics, especially about rotation. In contrast, I assess the RDA from the perspective of the philosophy of physics. I argue for three main conclusions. The first conclusion is that the RDA can be formulated more strongly than is usually recognized: it is not necessary to imagine away the dynamical effects of rotation. The second is that in (...) general relativity, the RDA fails because of frame-dragging. The third conclusion is that even setting aside general relativity, the strong formulation of the RDA can after all be defeated. Namely, by the perdurantist taking objects in classical mechanics (whether point-particles or continuous bodies) to have only temporally extended, i.e. non-instantaneous, temporal parts: which immediately blocks the RDA. Admittedly, this version of perdurantism defines persistence in a weaker sense of `definition' than pointilliste versions that aim to define persistence assuming only instantaneous temporal parts. But I argue that temporally extended temporal parts: (i) can do the jobs within the endurantism-perdurantism debate that the perdurantist wants temporal parts to do; and (ii) are supported by both classical and quantum mechanics. This is an extract from a much longer paper, which is available at: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/archive/00001760. The main differences are that the longer paper: (i) gives much more detail about the form and scope of the RDA, the interpretative subtleties of classical mechanics, and the physics of rotation; and (ii) reports and assesses several other replies to the RDA, especially those by Callender, Lewis, Robinson and Sider. (shrink)
This paper is about the metaphysical debate whether objects persist over time by the selfsame object existing at different times (nowadays called “endurance” by metaphysicians), or by different temporal parts, or stages, existing at different times (called “perdurance”). I aim to illuminate the debate by using some elementary kinematics and real analysis: resources which metaphysicians have, surprisingly, not availed themselves of. There are two main results, which are of interest to both endurantists and perdurantists. (1) I describe a precise formal (...) equivalence between the way that the two metaphysical positions represent the motion of the objects of classical mechanics (both point-particles and continua). (2) I make precise, and prove a result about, the idea that the persistence of objects moving in a void is to be analysed in terms of tracking the continuous curves in spacetime that connect points occupied by matter. The result is entirely elementary: it is a corollary of the Heine–Borel theorem. (shrink)
Some recent philosophical debate about persistence has focussed on an argument against perdurantism that discusses rotating perfectly homogeneous discs (the `rotating discs argument'; RDA). The argument has been mostly discussed by metaphysicians, though it appeals to ideas from classical mechanics, especially about rotation. In contrast, I assess the RDA from the perspective of the philosophy of physics. After introducing the argument and emphasizing the relevance of physics (Sections 1 to 3), I review some metaphysicians' replies to the argument, especially (...) those by Callender, Lewis, Robinson and Sider (Section 4). Thereafter, I argue for three main conclusions. They all arise from the fact, emphasized in Section 2, that classical mechanics (non-relativistic as well as relativistic) is both more subtle, and more problematic, than philosophers generally realize. The first conclusion is that the RDA can be formulated more strongly than is usually recognized: it is not necessary to ``imagine away'' the dynamical effects of rotation (Section 5.5). The second is that in general relativity, the RDA fails because of frame-dragging (Section 5.6). The third is that even setting aside general relativity, the strong formulation of the RDA can after all be defeated (Section 6 onwards). Namely, by the perdurantist taking objects in classical mechanics (whether point-particles or continuous bodies) to have only temporally extended, i.e. non-instantaneous, temporal parts: which immediately blocks the RDA. Admittedly, this version of perdurantism defines persistence in a weaker sense of `definition' than pointilliste versions that aim to define persistence assuming only instantaneous temporal parts. But I argue that temporally extended temporal parts: (i) can do the jobs within the endurantism-perdurantism debate that the perdurantist wants temporal parts to do; and (ii) are supported by both classical and quantum mechanics. (shrink)
I show that the Eternalist faces a trilemma. Given their theory of time, three claims are each very plausible, yet together form an inconsistent triad. Denying any one of these claims will have significant consequences for how they can conceive of the material realm. I urge that the best strategy is to deny the first claim, and show that this would have a significant consequence: Perdurantism is false.
In “Tropes and Ordinary Physical Objects”, Kris McDaniel argues that ordinary physical objects are fusions of monadic and polyadic tropes. McDaniel calls his view “TOPO”—for “Theory of Ordinary Physical Objects”. He argues that we should accept TOPO because of the philosophical work that it allows us to do. Among other things, TOPO is supposed to allow endurantists to reply to Mark Heller’s argument for <span class='Hi'>perdurantism</span>. But, we argue in this paper, TOPO does not help endurantists do that; indeed, we (...) argue that anyone who accepts TOPO should reject endurantism. (shrink)
If musical works are abstract objects, which cannot enter into causal relations, then how can we refer to musical works or know anything about them? Worse, how can any of our musical experiences be experiences of musical works? It would be nice to be able to sidestep these questions altogether. One way to do that would be to take musical works to be concrete objects. In this paper, we defend a theory according to which musical works are concrete objects. In (...) particular, the theory that we defend takes musical works to be fusions of performances. We defend this view from a series of objections, the first two of which are raised by Julian Dodd in a recent paper and the last of which is suggested by some comments of his in an earlier paper. (shrink)
Ignoring the temporal dimension, an object such as a railway tunnel or a human body is a three-dimensional whole composed of three-dimensional parts. The four-dimensionalist holds that a physical object exhibiting identity across time—Descartes, for example—is a four-dimensional whole composed of 'briefer' four-dimensional objects, its temporal parts. Peter van Inwagen (1990) has argued that four-dimensionalism cannot be sustained, or at best can be sustained only by a counterpart theorist. We argue that different schemes of individuation of temporal parts are available, (...) which undermines van Inwagen's argument. (shrink)
Three-dimensionalists , sometimes referred to as endurantists, think that objects persist through time by being “wholly present” at every time they exist. But what is it for something to be wholly present at a time? It is surprisingly difficult to say. The threedimensionalist is free, of course, to take ‘is wholly present at’ as one of her theory’s primitives, but this is problematic for at least one reason: some philosophers claim not to understand her primitive. Clearly the three-dimensionalist would be (...) better off if she could state her theory in terms accessible to all. We think she can. What is needed is a definition of ‘is wholly present at’ that all can understand. in this paper, we offer one. (shrink)
In 'Four-Dimensional Objects' Peter van Inwagen gives two arguments for the claim that proponents of four-dimensionalism have to be counterpart theorists. Recently Jack Copeland, Heather Dyke, and Diane Proudfoot, echoing in part points made by Mark Heller in this journal in 1993, have sought to rebut one of van Inwagen's arguments. In this paper I shall criticize their discussion and by implication certain points made by Heller. In so doing I shall also rebut a possible objection to van Inwagen's second (...) argument. While I shall conclude that Copeland et al . fail to make their case, I nevertheless argue that van Inwagen's argument can be resisted, provided that the four-dimensionalist is willing to adopt a certain conception of transworld identity. Moreover, I shall argue that to the extent that van Inwagen's paper highlights something problematic for four-dimensionalism in this particular conception of transworld identity, the paper highlights something equally problematic for three-dimensionalism. (shrink)
Introduction -- Fatalism, free will, and foreknowledge -- Mind, the metric, and conventionality -- Time travel and backward causation -- Time's origin, and relationism vs. substantivalism -- McTaggart, tensed facts, and time's flow -- Presentism, the block universe, and perduring objects -- The arrow of time -- Zeno's paradoxes and supertasks.
Recently, Cody Gilmore has deployed an ingenious case involving backwards time travel to highlight an apparent conflict between the theory that objects persist by perduring, and the thesis that wholly coincident objects are impossible. However, careful attention to the concepts of location and parthood that Gilmore’s cases involve shows that the perdurantist faces no genuine objection from these cases, and that the perdurantist has a number of plausible and dialectically appropriate ways to avoid the supposed conflict.
In ?Does Four-Dimensionalism Explain Coincidence?? Mark Moyer argues that there is no reason to prefer the four-dimensionalist (or perdurantist) explanation of coincidence to the three-dimensionalist (or endurantist) explanation. I argue that Moyer's formulations of perdurantism and endurantism lead him to overlook the perdurantist's advantage. A more satisfactory formulation of these views reveals a puzzle of coincidence that Moyer does not consider, and the perdurantist's treatment of this puzzle is clearly preferable.