Persistence and coincidence

Four-dimensionalists claim that their take on the temporal versions of the puzzles of coincidence favors their view over three-dimensionalism. In this paper I argue otherwise. In particular, I argue that the four-dimensionalist’s treatment of such puzzles doesn’t give her an edge over so-called `standard theorists’, i.e. three-dimensionalists according to whom there are distinct material objects that coincide at some time. I look at two ways in which the dispute between four-dimensionalists and standard theorists might be construed. First, as an issue about commitment to distinct coincident material objects: the purported advantage of the four-dimensionalist’s approach is supposed to lie in its being compatible with there being no such things. Second, as an issue about explanation of such objects: the alleged superiority of the four-dimensionalist’s view is supposed to lie in its being able to provide a better account of how distinct material things manage to share their parts and exact location at some time. I argue that four-dimensionalism falls short of expectations in either case: the existence of distinct overlapping worms requires the existence of distinct coincident material objects, and temporal parts do not afford any better an explanation of such things than is available to the standard theorist.
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