Rigidity, Occasional Identity and Leibniz' Law

Philosophical Quarterly 50 (201):518 - 526 (2000)
André Gallois (1998) attempts to defend the occasional identity thesis (OIT), the thesis that objects which are distinct at one time may nonetheless be identical at another time, in the face of two influential lines of argument against it. One argument involves Kripke’s (1971) notion of rigid designation and the other, Leibniz’s law (affirming the indiscernibility of identicals). It is reasonable for advocates of (OIT) to question the picture of rigid designation and the version of Leibniz’s law that these arguments employ, but, the problem is, some form of rigidity is required for one to affirm the occasional identity of objects, and some (restricted) version of Leibniz’s law must be conceded if identity really is involved. Gallois accordingly recommends an account of rigidity and a version of Leibniz’s law to this end.1 We find Gallois’ proposals entirely inadequate to their task. We aim in this paper is to explicate and defend an alternative approach for occasional identity theorists. We do not seek to defend (OIT) per se; our aim, rather, is simply to show that the arguments from rigid designation and Leibniz’s law are inconclusive. Let’s begin with an outline of these arguments.
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