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Haslanger, Sally. Persistence Through Time
2003, In Michael J. Loux & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics. Oxford University Press, 315-354.
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Added by: Nick Novelli

Introduction: Things change: objects come into existence, last for a while, go out of existence, move through space, change their parts, change their qualities, change in their relations to things. All this would seem to be uncontroversial. But philosophical attention to any of these phenomena can generate perplexity and has resulted in a number of long-standing puzzles. One of the most famous puzzles about change threatens to demonstrate that nothing can persist through time, that all existence is momentary at best. Let’s use the term ‘alteration’ for the sort of change that occurs when a persisting object changes its properties.

Comment: A good overview of the philosophical issues involved in persistence through time. Would be a good preliminary material in a philosophy of time course. Or, since this is a fundamental philosophical problem, could be used in an introduction to philosophy course as a more clear alternative or supplement to ancient sources.

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Jaegwon, Kim. The myth of non-reductive materialism
2003, Proceedings and Adresses of the American Philosophical Association 63(3): 31:47.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez

Summary: This article explores the idea that we can assuage our physicalist qualms by embracing “ontological physicalism”, the claim that all that exists in space-time is physical, but, at the same time, accept “property dualism”, a dualism about psychological and physical attributes, insisting that psychological concepts or properties form an irreducible, autonomous domain. The issue the author explores is whether or not a robust physicalist can, consistently and plausibly, swear off reductionism – that is, whether or not a substantial form of physicalism can be combined with the rejection of psycho-physical reduction. The author argues that a middle-of-the road position of the sort just described is not available. More specifically, he claim that a physicalist has only two genuine options, eliminativism and reductionism.

Comment: This is a very important paper for both philosophy of mind and philosophy of science. Previous knowledge of key concepts such supervenience, physicalism or reductionism is needed to fully understand the paper. It is then more suitable for postgraduate students.

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Kleinschmidt, Shieva. Refining Four-Dimensionalism
2017, Synthese 194(11): 4623-4640.
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Added by: Emily Paul

Abstract: Current formulations of Four-Dimensionalism may be objected to on grounds that they are too inflexible: the formulations do not seem to allow for enough variety in the views they are paired with. For instance, Kit Fine has noted that formulations of Four-Dimensionalism in terms of instantaneous parts may be too demanding for Four-Dimensionalists who believe nothing is instantaneous. And Trenton Merricks has argued that one can think something persists four-dimensionally without taking it to have proper temporal parts, and claims that our formulation of Four-Dimensionalism should be revised to allow for this. I will add my own worries to those of Fine and Merricks. I will note that current formulations of Four-Dimensionalism are not sufficiently neutral with respect to the structure of time, with respect to how liberally objects decompose into parts, and with respect to whether objects and the regions they fill match in mereological structure. I will show that we can formulate Four-Dimensionalism in a sufficiently neutral way, while still producing a view that can do the work we typically require of Four-Dimensionalism.

Comment: A great further reading for a unit on persistence through time - a little too specialised to be a core reading - unless for a masters course, because it requires that readers have a prior (good) understanding of traditional four-dimensionalism. If one's students do have this grasp (e.g. in an MA course) then it could be good to set them the task of reading this paper, and outlining how they think four-dimensionalism entails certain commitments - e.g. not being neutral regarding theories of time.

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Miller, Kristie. Ought a four-dimensionalist to believe in temporal parts?
2009, Canadian Journal of Philosophy 39(4): 619-646.
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Added by: Emily Paul

Abstract: 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.

Comment: This would be useful in particular as either i) a set reading for an advanced UG or MA metaphysics course, where students have been taught (e.g. in the lecture) about endurantism or perdurantism, or ii) as a secondary reading for such a course, because of how it examines further beyond the 'four-dimensionalists are perdurantists; three-dimensionalists are endurantists' categories.

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Smith, Subrena. Organisms as Persisters
, Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 9 (14)
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Added by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: This paper addresses the question of what organisms are and therefore what kinds of biological entities qualify as organisms. For some time now, the concept of organismality has been eclipsed by the notion of individuality. Biological individuals are those systems that are units of selection. I develop a conception of organismality that does not rely on evolutionary considerations, but instead draws on development and ecology. On this account, organismality and individuality can come apart. Organisms, in my view, are as Godfrey-Smith puts it “essentially persisters.” I argue that persistence is underpinned by differentiation, integration, development, and the constitutive embeddedness of organisms in their worlds. I examine two marginal cases, the Portuguese Man O’ War and the honey bee colony, and show that both count as organisms in light of my analysis. Next, I examine the case of holobionts, hosts plus their microsymbionts, and argue that they can be counted as organisms even though they may not be biological individuals. Finally, I consider the question of whether other, less tightly integrated biological systems might also be treated as organisms.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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