According to one view about the nature of persistence, four-dimensionalism, our world and everything in it consists of stages or temporal parts; moreover, where an object exists at various times, it does so, according to the four-dimensionalist, in virtue of having distinct temporal parts at those times. While four-dimensionalism is often motivated by its purported solutions to puzzles about material objects and their persistence through time, it has also been defended by more direct arguments. Three such arguments stand out: (1) the argument from temporary intrinsics, (2) the argument from vagueness and (3) the argument from recombination, Humean supervenience and causal constraints. Not surprisingly, each of these arguments originates in the work of four-dimensionalism’s most prominent modern defender, David Lewis. The third of these arguments has received, by far, the least attention, critical or otherwise; it is now time to begin to address this imbalance.
“Homogeneous Simples” (Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 64:
393-397, March 2002.)
"Seeing and Demonstration" (with John Hawthorne, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, July 2000, 199-206.)
Works in Progress
"Extensionality and Parthood" (draft)
At the moment this is a short discussion of Achille Varzi's ``Extensionality of Parthood and Composition,'' in which he argues that the extensionality of parthood is not impugned by standard cases of coinciding objects. I show where his argument goes wrong.
I show that the nature of the
fundamental mereological relation can decisively influence the outcome
of this debate. In short, if the fundamental mereological relation is proper parthood-at-a-time
then four-dimensionalism is false. Recognizing this does two things for
us: (i) It makes room for three-dimensionalists to say at least one of
the things they have tended to say all along: persisting things do not
have (proper) temporal parts, and (ii) it re-focuses the debate over
persistence on a narrower and perhaps more tractable question—“What is
the nature of the fundamental mereological relation?”