The central aim of this paper is to use a particular view about how the laws of nature govern the evolution of our universe in order to develop and evaluate the two main competing options in the metaphysics of persistence, namely endurantism and perdurantism. We begin by motivating the view that our laws of nature dictate not only qualitative facts about the future, but also which objects will instantiate which qualitative properties. We then show that both traditional doctrines in the (...) metaphysics of persistence must take on surprising further commitments in order to vindicate our universe being law-governed in this strong sense. For example, we argue that endurantists should adopt a particular version of monism, and that perdurantists should adopt a qualitativist doctrine that dispenses with all individuals at the fundamental level. (shrink)
Tropes is a systematic investigation into the metaphysics of properties, aiming to motivate and defend trope theory, and more specifically Natural Class Trope Nominalism (NCTN). Ehring’s book treats an impressive span of relevant positions, considerations, debates and objections with charity and clarity; it’s also a real page-turner, at least if one has (as I do) a taste for analytic twists and turns.
The debate over persistence currently involves three competing theories—one three-dimensionalist theory called “endurantism” and two four-dimensionalist theories called “perdurantism” and “exdurantism.” This inner debate between the latter two persistence theories is what I aim to clarify, and ultimately, I argue that perdurantism is superior to exdurantism because exdurantism is too extravagant in counting ordinary objects in the world. Extravagant for the reason that objects in their entirety are bound to their momentary stages, and there is practically an interminable number of (...) these stages, which is not reasonable when counting in the ordinary world. (shrink)
Several have denied that there is, specifically, a criterion of identity for persons and some deny that there are, for any kind, diachronic criteria of identity. I argue, however, that there are no criteria of identity, either synchronic or diachronic, for any kind whatsoever. I begin by elaborating the notion of a criterion of identity in order to clarify what exactly is being denied when I maintain there are none. I examine the motivation of those who qualify in some way (...) the general claim that there are synchronic and diachronic criteria of identity for every kind, then present my direct and categorical argument against such criteria. I next evaluate the objections of those who argue that rejecting criteria of identity has untenable results. These objections are ineffective, each based on the incorrect assumption that if there is no criterion of identity for a kind, the identity of an instance of that kind is independent of its qualities. I conclude by considering some of the upshots of rejecting criteria of identity and the insight doing so provides into things in general and the limits of ontological inquiry. (shrink)
This Open Access book (see link to Taylor & Francis below) critically examines the recent discussions of powers and powers-based accounts of causation. The author then develops an original view of powers-based causation that aims to be compatible with the theories and findings of natural science. Recently, there has been a dramatic revival of realist approaches to properties and causation, which focus on the relevance of Aristotelian metaphysics and the notion of powers for a scientifically informed view of causation. In (...) this book, R.D. Ingthorsson argues that one central feature of powers-based accounts of causation is arguably incompatible with what is today recognised as fact in the sciences, notably that all interactions are thoroughly reciprocal. Ingthorsson’s powerful particulars view of powers-based causation accommodates for the reciprocity of interactions. It also draws out the consequences of that view for the issue of causal necessity and offers a way to understand the constitution and persistence of compound objects as causal phenomena. Furthermore, Ingthorsson argues that compound entities, so understood, are just as much processes as they are substances. A Powerful Particulars View of Causation will be of great interest to scholars and advanced students working in metaphysics, philosophy of science, and neo-Aristotelian philosophy, while also being accessible for a general audience. (shrink)
Recently in Analysis, Ned Markosian (2019) has argued that a popular theory in the metaphysics of time—the Spacetime Thesis—falsely predicts that a normal musical performance is just as aesthetically valuable if it is rotated “sideways,” that is, if it is made to occur all at once. However, this argument falsely assumes that changing how something is oriented in space, and changing its duration in time, are analogous. That said, assuming they were analogous, Markosian’s argument is still unsuccessful. For the analogy (...) on which Markosian’s argument depends entails that if one can experience sideways music as it was originally, then one can prove that sideways music is just as aesthetically valuable. (shrink)
Does the Ship of Theseus present a genuine puzzle about persistence due to conflicting intuitions based on “continuity of form” and “continuity of matter” pulling in opposite directions? Philosophers are divided. Some claim that it presents a genuine puzzle but disagree over whether there is a solution. Others claim that there is no puzzle at all since the case has an obvious solution. To assess these proposals, we conducted a cross-cultural study involving nearly 3,000 people across twenty-two countries, speaking eighteen (...) different languages. Our results speak against the proposal that there is no puzzle at all and against the proposal that there is a puzzle but one that has no solution. Our results suggest that there are two criteria—“continuity of form” and “continuity of matter”— that constitute our concept of persistence and these two criteria receive different weightings in settling matters concerning persistence. (shrink)
Two separate research programs have revealed two different factors that feature in our judgments of whether some entity persists. One program—inspired by Knobe—has found that normative considerations affect persistence judgments. For instance, people are more inclined to view a thing as persisting when the changes it undergoes lead to improvements. The other program—inspired by Kelemen—has found that teleological considerations affect persistence judgments. For instance, people are more inclined to view a thing as persisting when it preserves its purpose. Our goal (...) in this paper is to determine what causes persistence judgments. Across four studies, we pit normative considerations against teleological considerations. And using causal modeling procedures, we find a consistent, robust pattern with teleological and not normative considerations directly causing persistence judgments. Our findings put teleology in the driver’s seat, while at the same time shedding further light on our folk notion of an object. (shrink)
To all appearances, the basic building blocks of reality tend to keep existing unless something intervenes to destroy them. In other words, basic things seem to have existential inertia. But why might this be? This paper considers a number of arguments for and against existential inertia. It discusses arguments inspired by Aquinas, Descartes, and Spinoza, as well as considerations deriving from Occam’s Razor, entropy, and certain views about the nature of time and change.
Was ist das Sein des Sozialen? Was konstituiert die Existenz von Gruppen und Institutionen, ihre Identität und Dauer in der Zeit? Dieses Buch resümiert den aktuellen Diskussionsstand der Sozialontologie und argumentiert für eine Ontologie des Sozialen, die sowohl formellen als auch informellen Institutionen gerecht wird. Es schlägt dafür eine Synthese aus Positionen vor, die in der gegenwärtigen Diskussion mit den Namen von John Searle und Margaret Gilbert verbunden sind.
My present inclination is to say that both identity and relational analyses are intelligible hypotheses. I reject the identity analysis, looking rather to relations between different phases to secure the unity of a particular over time. But I do not think that the identity view can be rejected as illogical. If it is to be rejected, then I think it must be rejected for Occamist reasons. The different phases exist, and so do their relations. These phases so related, it seems, (...) are sufficient to secure identity through time for all particulars. I suggest, then, that the identity view of identity through time is not illogical. The question is rather whether it is a postulation which is fruitful, or expedient, or which we are compelled, to make. (Armstrong p. 70, 1980) This paper considers this view, articulated by Armstrong and argues that recent work on persistence sheds light on this issue. (shrink)
The paper provides a new and detailed critique of Barker and Dowe’s argument against multi-location. This critique is not only novel but also less committal than previous ones in the literature in that it does not require hefty metaphysical assumptions. The paper also provides an analysis of some metaphysical relations between mereological and locational principles.
The special composition question is the question, ‘When do some things compose something?’ The answers to this question in the literature have largely been at odds with common sense, either by allowing that any two things compose something, or by denying the existence of most ordinary composite objects. I propose a new ‘series-style’ answer to the special composition question that accords much more closely with common sense, and I defend this answer from van Inwagen's objections. Specifically, I will argue that (...) the proposed answer entails the transitivity of parthood, that it is non-circular, and that it casts some light on the ancient puzzle about the Ship of Theseus. (shrink)
This paper outlines a novel solution to the problem of the many and a conception of ordinary objects that implies it. The solution is that many collections of particles can simultaneously constitute a single object. The proposed conception of ordinary objects maintains that they are fundamentally subjects of change: the changes an object is able to survive explain its constitution.
When do the folk think that material objects persist? Many metaphysicians have wanted a view which fits with folk intuitions, yet there is little agreement about what the folk intuit. I provide a range of empirical evidence which suggests that the folk operate with a teleological view of persistence: the folk tend to intuit that a material object survives alterations when its function is preserved. Given that the folk operate with a teleological view of persistence, I argue for a debunking (...) explanation of folk intuitions, concluding that metaphysicians should dismiss folk intuitions as tied into a benighted view of nature. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore the question what a continuant is, in the context of a very interesting suggestion recently made by Rowland Stout, as part of his attempt to develop a coherent ontology of processes. Stout claims that a continuant is best thought of as something that primarily has its properties at times, rather than atemporally—and that on this construal, processes should count as continuants. While accepting that Stout is onto something here, I reject his suggestion that we should (...) accept that processes are both occurrents and continuants; nothing, I argue, can truly occur or happen, which does not have temporal parts. I make an alternative suggestion as to how one might deal with the peculiar status of processes without jettisoning a very natural account of occurrence; and assess the consequences for the category of continuant. (shrink)
In this paper, I tackle the problem of diachronic identity. Far from providing a criterion for identity over time, the aim of this work is to understand if this issue pertains to ontology, conceived as that part of philosophy that tries to answer the question about what entities exist, or metaphysics, conceived as that part of philosophy that tries to explain, of those entities, what they are. On the face of it, only metaphysics has the task to solve this problem, (...) but I argue that this is false. Through the analysis of different theories concerning identity through time, I show how both ontology and metaphysics are concerned with the problem of diachronic identity, and how actually ontology turns out to be primary in solving the problem. (shrink)
Can institutional objects be identified with physical objects that have been ascribed status functions, as advocated by John Searle in The Construction of Social Reality (1995)? The paper argues that the prospects of this identification hinge on how objects persist – i.e., whether they endure, perdure or exdure through time. This important connection between reductive identification and mode of persistence has been largely ignored in the literature on social ontology thus far.
Recent philosophical work on temporal experience offers generic models that are often assumed to apply to all sensory modalities. I show that the models serve as broad frameworks in which different aspects of cognitive science can be slotted and, thus, are beneficial to furthering research programs in embodied music cognition. Here I discuss a particular feature of temporal experience that plays a key role in such philosophical work: a distinction between the experience of succession and the mere succession of experiences. (...) I question the presupposition that there is such an evident, clear distinction and suggest that, instead, how the distinction is drawn is context-dependent. After suggesting a way to modify the philosophical models of temporal experience to accommodate this contextdependency, I illustrate that these models can fruitfully incorporate features of research projects in embodied musical cognition. To do so I supplement a modified retentionalist model with aspects of recent work that links bodily movement with musical perception (Godøy, 2006; 2010a; Jensenius, Wanderley, Godøy, and Leman, 2010). The resulting model is shown to facilitate novel hypotheses, refine the notion of context-dependency and point towards means of extending the philosophical model and an existent research program. (shrink)
This article defends novel approaches to what we are and how we persist. First it is claimed that we have disjunctive persistence conditions: we can persist by way of either biological continuity or psychological continuity. Then it is claimed that we are neither human beings nor persons essentially. Rather, we are essentially bio-psycho-continuers, a concept to be explained along the way. A variety of objections are considered and found wanting.
It is widely assumed that time appears to be tensed, i.e. divided into a future, present and past, and transitory, i.e. involving some kind of ‘flow’ or ‘passage’ of times or events from the future into the present and away into the distant past. In this paper I provide some reasons to doubt that time appears to be tensed and transitory, or at least that philosophers who have suggested that time appears to be that way have included in ‘appearance’ everything (...) that falls under the broad term ‘cognition’, i.e. mental processes of all kinds, including perceiving, remembering, imagining, and thinking. I argue that the tensed and transitory aspect of our experience of temporal reality is, firstly, subordinate to our experience of a world of persistent objects, secondly, in conflict with a popular conception of the nature of persistent material objects, and finally, that it is an aspect of how we think about temporal reality rather than how we actually experience it. I support the last contention by a comparison with our experience of spatiality, which arguably has three distinguishable components: (i) ‘pure input perception’, (ii) ‘perceptual experience modulated by top down cognitive processes’, and (iii) a ‘pure representation of space’. For space, the modulation of our perception of space at any given moment is highly influenced by our pure representation of space, but it is not clear to me that our modulated experience of space is influenced by a pure representation of time. Rather, the modulated experience of temporality, to my mind, is much more clearly an experience of continuous existence of the persisting objects that make up the world. (shrink)
In ‘from times to worlds and back again: a transcendentist theory of persistence’ (henceforth TTP) Alessandro Giordani outlines five competitor views regarding the manner in which objects occupy regions along a dimension. These are: (1) classical uni-location (2) bare uni-location (3) multi-location (4) counterpart presence and (5) transcendent presence. Each view comes in both a temporal and modal version and Giordani argues that one ought to prefer transcendentism (i.e. 5) along both dimensions. According to temporal transcendentism, necessarily, no object is (...) exactly located at any region along the temporal dimension. Instead, any object, O, is derivatively present at some region, R, along the temporal dimension in virtue of bearing certain relations to something (according to TTP an event) that occupies R along that dimension. According to modal transcendentism, no object is exactly located at any region along the modal dimension. Instead, any object, O, is derivatively present at some region, R, along the modal dimension in virtue of bearing certain relations to something (according to TTP an event) that occupies R along that dimension. I argue that such a view is under motivated, and, at any rate, may not in fact offer a distinct view. (shrink)
The recent debate in metaontology gave rise to several types of (more or less classical) answers to questions about "equivalences" between metaphysical theories and to the question whether metaphysical disputes are substantive or merely verbal (i.e. various versions of realism, strong anti-realism, moderate anti-realism, or epistemicism). In this paper, I want to do two things. First, I shall have a close look at one metaphysical debate that has been the target and center of interest of many meta-metaphysicians, namely the problem (...) of how material objects persist through time : the endurantism vs. perdurantism controversy. It has been argued that this debate is a good example of a merely verbal one, where two allegedly competing views are in fact translatable one into each other – they end up, contrary to appearances, to be equivalent. In my closer look at this debate, I will conclude that this is correct, but only to some extent, and that there does remain room for substantive disagreement. The second thing that I wish to achieve in this paper, and that I hope will stem from my considerations about the persistence debate, is to defend a metaontological view that emphasizes that when asking the question "Are metaphysical debates substantive or verbal?" the correct answer is "It depends." Some debates are substantive, some debates are merely verbal, sometimes it is true that a problem or a question can be formulated in equally good frameworks where there is no fact of the matter as to which one is correct or where we just cannot know it. Furthermore, importantly, as my examination of the persistence debate will show, there is room for the view that a debate is largely merely verbal but not entirely and that some parts of it are substantive, and decidable by philosophical methods. It is possible, and it is the case with respect to the persistence debate, that inside a debate some points are merely verbal while other are places of substantive disagreement. A moral of this is that, at the end of the day, the best way to do meta-metaphysics is to do first-level metaphysics. (shrink)
The constituents of social entities (and of social continuants in particular) determine whether or not a social thing comes to be, persists and perishes. John Searle hints at two very different accounts for the persistence of social entities, a mere past related account and an acceptance theoretic account, whereas Margaret Gilbert's account is based on deontic entities like obligations or joint commitments. I demonstrate that Gilbert's account can also accommodate Searle's examples. While oblivion, protests or violence can be historical causes (...) of the destruction of social entities, they cannot be considered to be the ultimate causes of the perishing from Gilbert's point of view. Social entities rather perish because of the treatises or divorces that dissolve their deontic constituents. (shrink)
In some sense, survival seems to be an intrinsic matter. Whether or not you survive some event seems to depend on what goes on with you yourself —what happens in the environment shouldn’t make a difference. Likewise, being a person at a time seems intrinsic. The principle that survival seems intrinsic is one factor which makes personal fission puzzles so awkward. Fission scenarios present cases where if survival is an intrinsic matter, it appears that an individual could survive twice over. (...) But it’s well known that standard notions of “intrinsicality” won’t do to articulate the sense in which survival is intrinsic, since ‘personhood’ appears to be a maximal property. We formulate a sense in which survival and personhood (and perhaps other maximal properties) may be almost intrinsic—a sense that would suffice, for example, to ground fission arguments. It turns out that this notion of almost-intrinsicality allows us to formulate a new version of the problem of the many. (shrink)
In what follows, I suggest that, against most theories of time, there really is an actual present, a now, but that such an eternal moment cannot be found before or after time. It may even be semantically incoherent to say that such an eternal present exists since “it” is changeless and formless (presumably a dynamic chaos without location or duration) yet with creative potential. Such a field of near-infinite potential energy could have had no beginning and will have no end, (...) yet within it stirs the desire to experience that brings forth singularities, like the one that exploded into the Big Bang (experiencing itself through relative and relational spacetime). From the perspective of the eternal now of near-infinite possibilities (if such a sentence can be semantically parsed at all), there is only the timeless creative present, so the Big Bang did not happen some 13 billion years ago. Inasmuch as there is neither time past nor time future nor any time at all at the null point of forever, we must understand the Big Bang (and all other events) as taking place right here and now. In terms of the eternal now, the beginning is happening now and we just appeared (and are always just appearing) to witness it. The rest is all conscious construction; time and experience are so entangled, they need each other to exist. (shrink)
It has been argued that the tenseless view of time is incompatible with endurantism. This has been disputed, perhaps most famously by Hugh Mellor and Peter Simons. They argue that things can endure in tenseless time, and indeed must endure if tenseless time is to contain change. In this paper I will point out some difficulties with Mellor’s and Simons’ claims that in tenseless time a particular can be ‘wholly present’ at various times, and therefore endure, as well as have (...) incompatible properties at those different times, and thereby change. In effect I argue that they do not resolve the charge that the tenseless view of time is incomatible with endurantism because the tenseless view does not allow anything to change temporal location and thereby come to be ‘wholly present’ at various times. (shrink)
This paper presents the strongest version of a non-perdurantist four-dimensionalism: a theory according to which persisting objects are four-dimensionally extended in space-time, but not in virtue of having maximal temporal parts. The aims of considering such a view are twofold. First, to evaluate whether such an account could provide a plausible middle ground between the two main competitor accounts of persistence: three-dimensionalism and perdurantist four-dimensionalism. Second, to see what light such a theory sheds on the debate between these two competitor (...) theories. I conclude that despite prima facie reasons to suppose that non-perdurantist four-dimensionalism might be a credible alternative to either other account of persistence, ultimately the view is unsuccessful. The reasons for its failure illuminate the sometimes stagnant debate between three-dimensionalists and perdurantists, providing new reasons to prefer a perdurantist metaphysics. (shrink)
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.
How many championships have the Lakers won? Fourteen, if one counts those won in Minneapolis; nine, otherwise. Which is the correct answer? Is it even obvious that there is a correct answer? One is tempted to identify a team with its players. But teams, like ordinary objects, seem to survive gradual turnover of their parts. Suppose players from the Lakers are gradually replaced, one by one, over the years. We have the intuition that the team persists through this change, even (...) after none of the original players remain. Suppose too that these original players wind up playing for the Celtics. Lakers fans face an awkward question: for whom should they root? On the one hand, they have the team currently playing in L.A.—a team that has continued gradually through the years, who wear the same uniforms, but now can’t make the playoffs. On the other hand, there are the beloved Lakers starting five (responsible for all those championships) now playing together in the hated Boston garden—a team which looks (despite wearing those hated Celtics jerseys) and plays just like the Lakers of old. What’s a loyal fan to do? (shrink)
According to a popular line of reasoning, diachronic vagueness creates a problem for the endurantist conception of persistence. Some authors have replied that this line of reasoning is inconclusive, since the endurantist can subscribe to a principle of Diachronic Unrestricted Composition (DUC) that is perfectly parallel to the principle required by the perdurantist’s semantic account. I object that the endurantist should better avoid DUC. And I argue that even DUC, if accepted, would fail to provide the endurantist with the necessary (...) resources for explaining diachronic vagueness in familiar semantic terms. (shrink)
Many philosophers think not. Many philosophers, in fact, seem to suppose that anyone who raises the question whether mereological sums can change their parts displays thereby a failure to grasp an essential feature of the concept “mereological sum.” It is hard to point to an indisputable example of this in print,[i] but it is a thesis I hear put forward very frequently in conversation (sometimes it is put forward in the form of an incredulous stare after I have said something (...) that implies that mereological sums can change their parts). (shrink)
In this essay, I evoke and explore Butler's potential contribution, providing a broad framework for her work, and, at the same time, focusing on specific concepts from her writings - performativity, iteration, and foreclosure - that have profound implications for researchers. Furthermore, pointing out philosophers working in the phenomenological tradition in which Butler trained, including influential precursors, colleagues, and contemporaries, establishes how issues raised in various fields can be recognized and comprehended in relation to Butler's work more generally. Butler's work (...) - radical as it may seem - responds to classic questions of ontology, philosophy of language, and epistemology. A phenomenological description aimed at opening access to Butler’s notion of the tropological inauguration of the subject – that is, the ‘turning back’ induced by a limiting boundary that brings subjectivity into experience – attempts to place Butler’s central concepts before the reader. (shrink)
It is tempting to think that in the case of complete spatio-temporal coincidence, the statue is identical with the constituent lump of clay. However, some philosophers have thought that accepting constitution as identity in this type of case forces one to reject the necessity of identity. I show that there is no conflict here. By distinguishing between an object's being necessarily an F and an object's being necessity identical with an F, we can see that accepting the necessity of identity (...) does not, and should not, compel one to reject constitution as identity. (shrink)
In this paper I present a new definition of endurance. I argue that the three-dimensionalist ought to adopt a different understanding from the four-dimensionalist, of what it is to have a part simpliciter. With this new understanding it becomes possible to define endurance in a manner that both preserves the central endurantist intuitions, whilst avoiding commitment to any controversial metaphysical theses. Furthermore, since this endurantist definition is a mereological one, there is an elegant symmetry between the definitions of endurance and (...) perdurance in that the theories of three- and four-dimensionalism are both expressed in the language of mereology. Nevertheless, though both definitions are expressed within the same broad language, some of the terms of that language have subtly different meanings within the context of each theory. It is in understanding on the one hand that each theory is essentially a mereological theory and that therefore each shares some underlying theoretical similarities, and yet also that there are some subtle differences in the way each theory understands some of the terms of mereology, that allows us to see clearly what lies at the heart of the debate between these two accounts of persistence. (shrink)
This paper examines two popular arguments for the nonidentity of the statue and its constituent material. An essentialist response is provided to one of the arguments; that response is then shown to undermine the other argument as well. It is also shown that even if we accept these arguments and concede nonidentity, we can still avoid the further conclusion that constitution is not identity. These ideas are then extended to other applications of the arguments for nonidentity (specifically, their application to (...) a person and the constituent body, and to a mental event and its constituent neural event). (shrink)
In his excellent book, Four-Dimensionalism: An Ontology of Persistence and Time (Sider, 2001), Theodore Sider defends a version of four-dimensionalism which he calls the ‘stage-theory’. This paper focuses on Sider's argument from vagueness and argues that, due to the problematic nature of the argument from vagueness, Sider’s case in favor of four-dimensionalism is in the end not successful.
How do the familiar concrete objects of common sense persist through time? The four-dimensionalist argues that they perdure, that is, they persist through time by having temporal parts at each of the times at which they exist. The three-dimensionalist, on the other hand, holds that ordinary concrete objects endure; they lack an additional temporal dimension and persist, instead, by being “wholly present” at each of the times at which they exist.
I argue that the conjunction of perdurantism (the view that objects are temporally extended) and universalism (the thesis that any old class of things has a mereological fusion) gives rise to undesired complications when combined with certain plausible assumptions concerning the semantics of tensed statements.