, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 119-135

First online:

Persistence of Simple Substances

  • Markku KeinänenAffiliated withAcademy of Finland and University of TurkuDepartment of Behavioural Sciences and Philosophy, University of Turku Email author 
  • , Jani HakkarainenAffiliated withAcademy of Finland and University of TampereDepartment of History and Philosophy, University of Tampere

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


In this paper, we argue for a novel three-dimensionalist (3D'ist) solution to the problem of persistence, i.e. cross-temporal identity. We restrict the discussion of persistence to simple substances, which do not have other substances as their parts. The account of simple substances employed in the paper is a trope-nominalist strong nuclear theory (SNT), which develops Peter Simons' trope nominalism. Regarding the distinction between three dimensionalism (3D) and four dimensionalism (4D), we follow Michael Della Rocca's formulation, in which 3D explains persistence in virtue of same entities and 4D in virtue of distinct entities (temporal parts). SNT is a 3D'ist position because it accounts for the persistence of simple substances in virtue of diachronically identical ‘nuclear’ tropes. The nuclear tropes of a simple substance are necessary for it and mutually rigidly dependent but distinct. SNT explains qualitative change by tropes that are contingent to a simple substance. We show that it avoids the standard problems of 3D: temporal relativization of ontic predication, Bradley's regress and coincidence, fission and fusion cases. The temporal relativization is avoided because of the analysis of temporary parts that SNT gives in terms of temporal sub-location, which is atemporal part–whole relation.


Persistence Simple substances Trope