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)
Are the laws of nature real? Do they belong to the world or merely reflect the way we speak about it? And if they are real, what sort of entity are they? These questions have been intensely debated by philosophers. Modern cosmology, however, has given such questions a new twist by introducing a unique perspective on physical reality, the perspective which I shall call the cosmological point of view. In this perspective, the universe as a whole presents itself as a (...) single individual entity that undergoes a radical change with time. Laws of physics, on the other hand, have both local and global significance. They characterize how things behave locally. But they also characterize the entire universe. This suggests an interesting connection between the universe as a whole and what laws of physics hold in this universe. From the cosmological point of view, these two totalities, the laws of physics and the universe, may be related. But how exactly? Are the laws “inscribed” in the fabric of the universe or do they in some sense “precede” it in the order of being? If the latter, what is a “medium,” over and above the physical universe, in which physical laws are “written”? If the former, are they but a consequence of the universe’s very existence? And if so, how could the laws of physics survive the dramatic change the physical state of the universe underwent in the course of time? (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)
Cosmology as Weltanschauung is as old as the world. Cosmology as a physical discipline, however, is a child of this century, born in 1917, when Albert Einstein and Willem de Sitter first applied the theory of general relativity to the space-time of the entire universe. When did the child come of age and become a fully-fledged science? A popular myth shared by many practitioners holds that this did not happen until 1965, when the discovery of the 2.7K cosmic microwave background (...) radiation validated the concept of the hot big bang. Earlier accomplishments culminating in the 1965 event include the derivation of evolving relativistic models by Alexander Friedmann and George Lemaître, Edwin Hubble’s discovery of the redshift-magnitude relationship and George Gamow’s theory of the primordial nucleosynthesis containing the prediction of the microwave background left from the hot and dense past of the universe. This linear development is thrown into sharper relief in textbooks, by referring to an inarticulate.. (shrink)
Background and assumptions. Persistence and philosophy of time ; Atomism and composition ; Scope ; Some matters of methodology -- Persistence, location, and multilocation in spacetime. Endurance, perdurance, exdurance : some pictures ; More pictures ; Temporal modification and the "problem of temporary intrinsics" ; Persistence, location and multilocation in generic spacetime ; An alternative classification -- Classical and relativistic spacetime. Newtonian spacetime ; Neo-Newtonian (Galilean) spacetime ; Reference frames and coordinate systems ; Galilean transformations in spacetime ; Special relativistic (...) spacetime ; Length contraction and time dilation ; Invariant properties of special relativistic spacetime -- Persisting objects in classical spacetime. Enduring, perduring, and exduring objects in Galilean spacetime ; The argument from vagueness ; From minimal D-fusions to temporal parts ; Motivating a sharp cutoff ; Some objections and replies ; Implications -- Persisting objects in Minkowski spacetime. Enduring, perduring, and exduring objects in Minkowski spacetime ; Flat and curved achronal regions in Minkowski spacetime ; Early reflections on persisting objects in Minkowski spacetime : Quine and Smart ; "Profligate ontology"? ; Is achronal universalism tenable in Minkowski spacetime? ; "Crisscrossing" and immanent causation -- Coexistence in spacetime. The notion of coexistence ; Desiderata ; Coexistence in Galilean spacetime ; Coexistence in Minkowski spacetime : CASH ; Alexandrov-Stein present and Alexandrov-Stein coexistence ; AS-Coexistence v. CASH : symmetry, multigrade, and objectivity ; As-coexistence v. CASH : relevance ; The mixed past of coexistence ; No need in the extended now -- Strange coexistence? Coexistence and existence@ ; The asymmetry thesis ; The absurdity thesis ; Collective CASH value of coexistence ; Collective existence@ and coexistence in classical spacetime ; Collective existence@ and coexistence in Minkowski spacetime ; Contextuality ; Chronological incoherence ; Some objections -- Shapes and other arrangements in Minkowski spacetime. How rigid is a granite block? ; Perspectives in space ; Perspectives in spacetime ; Are shapes intrinsic to objects? ; The causal objection ; The micro-reductive objection ; Pegs, boards, and shapes ; Perduring objects exist. (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)
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.
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)
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)
Composition, persistence, vagueness, and more constitute an interconnected network of problems. My criticism of Hud Hudson's provocative claims made in a recent paper (Hudson 2002) was focused almost exclusively on the issue of diachronic composition (Balashov 2003). Hudson's response (2003) has highlighted the dangers of such isolationism. But I want to hold to my strategy to the end. Part of the reason is to evade the appalling responsibility of presenting a full-blown theory of all the above phenomena; I must confess (...) that I do not have such a theory. At the same time, I contend that diachronic composition can be profitably carved out from the medley of the surrounding issues more or less at the joints provided by nature itself. And I do subscribe to some sort of realism about the joints of nature. (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.
In this critical notice we argue against William Craig's recent attempt to reconcile presentism (roughly, the view that only the present is real) with relativity theory. Craig's defense of his position boils down to endorsing a ‘neo-Lorentzian interpretation’ of special relativity. We contend that his reconstruction of Lorentz's theory and its historical development is fatally flawed and that his arguments for reviving this theory fail on many counts. 1 Rival theories of time 2 Relativity and the present 3 Special relativity: (...) one theory, three interpretations 4 Theories of principle and constructive theories 5 The relativity interpretation: explanatorily deficient? 6 The relativity interpretation: ontologically fragmented? 7 The space-time interpretation: does God need a preferred frame of reference? 8 The neo-Lorentzian interpretation: at what price? 9 The neo-Lorentzian interpretation: with what payoff? 10 Why we should prefer the space-time interpretation over the neo-Lorentzian interpretation 11 What about general relativity? 12 Squaring the tenseless space-time interpretation with our tensed experience. (shrink)
In this critical notice we argue against William Craig's recent attempt to reconcile presentism (roughly, the view that only the present is real) with relativity theory. Craig's defense of his position boils down to endorsing a 'neo-Lorentzian interpretation' of special relativity. We contend that his reconstruction of Lorentz's theory and its historical development is fatally flawed and that his arguments for reviving this theory fail on many counts.
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)
I argue that the contemporary interplay of cosmology and particle physics in their joint effort to understand the processes at work during the first moments of the big bang has important implications for understanding the nature of lawhood. I focus on the phenomenon of spontaneous symmetry breaking responsible for generating the masses of certain particles. This phenomenon presents problems for the currently fashionable Dretske-Tooley-Armstrong theory and strongly favors a rival nomic ontology of causal powers.
Philosophy of Science: Contemporary Readings is a comprehensive anthology that draws together leading philosophers writing on the major themes in the philosophy of science. Sections are: Science and Philosophy; Explanation; Causation and Laws; Scientific Theories and Conceptual Change; Scientific Realism; Testing and Confirmation of Theories; and Science in Context. Each section is prefaced by an introductory essay by the editors. The readings are designed to complement Philosophy of Science: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge 2000), though the anthology can also be used (...) as a stand-alone volume. (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)
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 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)
To state an important fact about the photon, physicists use such expressions as (1) “the photon has zero (null, vanishing) mass” and (2) “the photon is (a) massless (particle)” interchangeably. Both (1) and (2) express the fact that the photon has no non-zero mass. However, statements (1) and (2) disagree about a further fact: (1) attributes to the photon the property of zero-masshood whereas (2) denies that the photon has any mass at all. But is there really a difference between (...) saying that something has zero mass (charge, spin, etc.) and saying that it has no mass (charge, spin, etc.)? Does the distinction cut any physical or philosophical ice? I argue that the answer to these questions is yes. Put briefly, the claim of this paper is that some zero-value physical quantities are not mere “privations”, “absences” or “holes in being”. They are respectable properties in the same sense in which their non-zero partners are. This, I will show, has implications for the debate between two rival views of the nature of property, dispositionalism and categoricalism. (shrink)
Duhem's and Quine's holistic theses, when properly understood, allow methodologically responsible ways of resolving a conflict between a theoretical system and experience; they only deny the possibility of doing it in an epistemically persuasive way. By developing a "string" model of scientific tests I argue that the pattern of interaction between the elements of a theoretical system arising in response to multiple adverse data can be helpful in locating a "weak spot" in it. Combining this model with anti-holistic arguments of (...) Popper, Greenwood, and Lakatos significantly reinforces their joint power. (shrink)
Des Jardins (1976) and Dreher (1990) have suggested that Plato's Line should be thought of as divided in the mean and extreme ('golden') ratio. I examine their arguments, as well as other reasons that could be brought up in support of the 'golden division' of the Line, and show that all of them are wanting.
Philosophical considerations have been essentially involved in the origin and development of the steady-state cosmological theory (SST). These considerations include an explicit uniformitarian methodology and implicit metaphysical views concerning the status of natural laws in a changing universe. I shall examine the foundations of SST by reconstructing its early history. Whereas the strong uniformitarian methodology of SST found no support in the subsequent development of cosmology, the idea of a possible influence the global structure of the universe may have on (...) the laws of physics operative in it has been assimilated by the standard big bang theory as it made its remarkable progress in recent decades. (shrink)