The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Speaker Series: Elizabeth Miller (Brown)

Title: "Persistence and Properties"

 Della Rocca frames disagreement about the metaphysics of persistence as, at bottom, disagreement about the order of explanation between (facts about) persisting individuals and short-lived entities. For four-dimensionalists, an individual persists partly in virtue of the existence of some successive temporal parts. Three-dimensionalists reject this explanatory thesis: even if there are such short-lived objects, these do not help to metaphysically explain persistence. On Della Rocca's framing, instead, three-dimensionalism bottoms out in a kind of primitivism about trans-temporal identity—a result he ultimately develops into a charge of incoherence against three-dimensionalists. To challenge Della Rocca's framing, I extend a standard analogy between metaphysical theories of persistence and metaphysical theories of properties. I use this analogy to diagnose Della Rocca's error, and then propose a modification to his original argument against three-dimensionalism. Along the way, I highlight some underappreciated subtleties in the properties debate as well.

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