In Favor of Four‐Dimensionalism Part 1

Theodore Sider

in Four-Dimensionalism

Published in print October 2001 | ISBN: 9780199244430
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598425 | DOI:
 In Favor of Four‐Dimensionalism Part 1

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Some traditional arguments for four‐dimensionalism are weak: denying four‐dimensionalism does not prohibit the application of modern logic to natural language, does not imply the A‐theory of time and is consistent with special relativity. Others have some force but are inconclusive: the argument from analogies between time and space and Lewis's argument from temporary intrinsics. Some new arguments fare better. (1) Only four‐dimensionalists can admit certain (admittedly exotic) possibilities involving timeless objects and time travel into one's own past. (2) Either substantivalism or relationalism about space‐time is true. Given substantivalism (and a sensible, flexible theory of de re modal predication), one might as well identify continuants with regions of space‐time, which have temporal parts. Alternatively, one could identify continuants with instantaneous slices of space‐time and employ temporal counterpart theory; either way, we have a four‐dimensionalist metaphysics of continuants. On the other hand, relationalism about space‐time cannot be made to work without temporal parts. So either way, we have an argument for four‐dimensionalism. (3) It can never be vague how many objects exist; if temporal parts do not exist then a restrictive account of which filled regions of space‐time contain objects must be given; but no such account can be given that is plausible and non‐vague.

Keywords: composition; continuants; counterpart theory; endurance; Four‐dimensionalism; Minkowski space‐time; parthood; perdurance; relationalism; special relativity; substantivalism; temporal parts; three‐dimensionalism; time‐travel; vagueness

Chapter.  27397 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Metaphysics

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