, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 759-770

How Coincidence Bears on Persistence

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Abstract

The ‘paradoxes of coincidence’ are generally taken as an important factor for deciding between rival views on persistence through time. In particular, the ability to deal with apparent cases of temporary coincidence is usually regarded as a good reason for favouring perdurantism (or ‘four-dimensionalism’) over endurantism (or ‘three-dimensionalism’). However, the recent work of Gilmore (2007) and McGrath (2007) challenges this standard view. For different reasons, both Gilmore and McGrath conclude that perdurantism does not really obtain support from the puzzles of temporary coincidence. In this paper, I will evaluate their arguments and defend the opposite view: that the paradoxes of coincidence do give some support to perdurantism. However, the way in which they do so is rather unexpected. As we will see, there are different ways in which coincidence scenarios may be thought to support perdurantism, some of which have not yet been sufficiently explored. Thus, my immediate goal is to explore one of those directions, bringing into focus a new argument from coincidence to perdurantism. And although I motivate my discussion by examining the arguments in the work of Gilmore and McGrath, the merits of this argument can be independently assessed. More generally, my overall purpose is to contribute to our general understanding of how the topics of coincidence and persistence bear on each other.

I would like to thank Marta Campdelacreu, Joan Pagès, David Pineda, and two anonymous referees from Philosophia for their helpful comments on a previous version of this paper. Research leading to this work has been partially funded by the projects CSD2009-00056, FFI2010-15717, and HUM2007-61108 (Spanish Government).