Causal Independence, the Identity of Indiscernibles, and the Essentiality of Origins

Journal of Philosophy 106 (5):277-291 (2009)
In his well-known 1952 dialogue Max Black describes a counterexample to the Principle of the Identity of Indiscernibles (PII). The counterexample is a world containing nothing but two purportedly indiscernible iron spheres. Reflecting on Black's example, Robert Adams uses the possibility of a world containing two almost indiscernible spheres to argue for the possibility of the indiscernible spheres world. One of Adams's almost indiscernible spheres has a small impurity, and, Adams writes, "Surely... the absence of the impurity would not make such a universe impossible." The appeal to "surely" constitutes a gap in Adams's argument. This paper bridges the gap with a premise that exploits the counterfactual conditional and the related notion of causal independence. The paper then argues that causal independence bears in a similar way on an issue Nathan Salmon raises concerning Kripke's argument for the Essentiality of Origins.
Keywords identity of indiscernibles  continuity argument
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DOI 10.5840/jphil200910657
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