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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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