The Ontology of Persistence


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Virginia Tech


In 1986, David Lewis offered what he thought would be the decisive objection against endurantism, showing it to be an implausible theory. The problem of temporary intrinsics stated that an object cannot have two complementary intrinsic properties while maintaining identity, as endurantists claim. Perdurantism, then, must be the more plausible theory, according to Lewis. The endurantists responded to this objection by formulating different versions of endurantism designed to avoid the problem. Subsequently, the endurantist tried to undermine the perdurantist position by arguing that a perduring object cannot undergo what is considered to be genuine change. As a result, endurantism is the more plausible theory. However, the perdurantist can show that endurantism seems to fail to provide an account of change as well. In what follows, I argue that the implicit ontological commitments of the endurantists and perdurantists have prevented the problem of temporary intrinsics and change from resolving the endurantist/perdurantist debate. I offer examples of plausible ontologies for the endurantist and perdurantist in order to emphasize this problem. I will argue that, in order to resolve the debate, one must ultimately examine the ontological accounts of each theory.



Perdurantism, Presentism, Persistence, Endurantism