A Situationalist Solution to the Ship of Theseus Puzzle
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This paper outlines a novel solution to the Ship of Theseus puzzle. The solution relies on situations, a philosophical tool used in natural language semantics among other places. The core idea is that what is true is always relative to the situation under consideration. I begin by outlining the problem before briefly introducing situations. I then present the solution: in smaller situations (containing only one of the candidate ships for identity with Theseus’s ship) the candidate is identical to Theseus’s ship. But in larger situations containing both candidates these identities are neither true nor false. Finally, I discuss some worries for the view that arise from the nature of identity, and suggest responses. It is concluded that the solution, and the theory that underpins it, are worth further investigation.
KeywordsNatural Language Semantic Situation Theory Situation Semantic True Simpliciter Transworld Identity
I am grateful to a number of individuals for feedback on this paper: Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra, Nick Jones, Josh Parsons, JD Lafrance, Al Wilson, Denis Robinson, Stephen Williams and two very helpful anonymous referees for this journal. The publication of this article has been supported by the Templeton World Charity Foundation, via my participation in The Metaphysics of Entanglement project based in the Faculty of Philosophy, Oxford University.
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