This article considers how people judge the identity of objects (e.g., how people decide that a description of an object at one time, t₀, belongs to the same object as a description of it at another time, t₁). The authors propose a causal continuer model for these judgments, based on an earlier theory by Nozick (1981). According to this model, the 2 descriptions belong to the same object if (a) the object at t₁ is among those that are causally close (...) enough to be genuine continuers of the original and (b) it is the closest of these close-enough contenders. A quantitative version of the model makes accurate predictions about judgments of which a pair of objects is identical to an original (Experiments 1 and 2). The model makes correct qualitative predictions about identity across radical disassembly (Experiment 1) as well as more ordinary transformations (Experiments 2 and 3). (shrink)
Pothos suggests dispensing with the distinction between rules and similarity, without defining what is meant by either term. We agree that there are problems with the distinction between rules and similarity, but believe these will be solved only by exploring the representations and processes underlying cases purported to involve rules and similarity.