Self-colocation: a colocation puzzle for endurantists

Abstract

The recent literature on the nature of persistence features a handful of imaginative cases in which an object seems to colocate with itself. So far, discussion of these cases has focused primarily on how they defy the standard endurantist approaches to the problem of temporary intrinsics. But in this article, I set that issue aside and argue that cases of apparent self-colocation also pose another problem for the endurantist. While the perdurantist seems to have a fairly straightforward account of self-colocation, the endurantist has a hard time saying exactly what it would be for an object to be self-colocated. After introducing this problem and explaining how the perdurantist can circumvent it with little difficulty, I discuss a number of tempting endurantist solutions that ultimately fail. Then I suggest an endurantist solution which I think is more promising, but which requires the endurantist to deny that apparent cases of self-colocation are genuine cases of self-colocation.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Though see Gilmore (2004), ch. 2 for two different ways to draw the endurantist/perdurantist divide. The terms ‘endurantism’ and ‘perdurantism’ are due to Johnston (1984).

  2. 2.

    For a critical discussion of Hudson’s view, see Parsons (2008).

  3. 3.

    Lewis (1986, pp. 202–4) and Sider (2001, pp. 92–8) are both influential presentations of the problem.

  4. 4.

    See Haslanger (2003) and Kurtz (2006) for overviews of the options.

  5. 5.

    Simon cites APA comments by John Hawthorne as the source of these cases.

  6. 6.

    These opening paragraphs follow Wasserman’s (2018, ch. 6.3) outline of the temporary intrinsics dialectic.

  7. 7.

    Self-colocation is one of many conceivable exotica at the intersection of mereology and location. For an overview, see Gilmore (2014) and the introduction to Kleinschmidt (2014).

  8. 8.

    The case is adapted from Simon (2019), who in turn cites APA comments by John Hawthorne. I’m following Simon in speaking for convenience of younger Casper and older Casper as though they were distinct objects.

  9. 9.

    For discussion of whether bosons can colocate, see the exchange between Cortes (1976), Barnette (1978), Ginsberg (1981), and Teller (1983).

  10. 10.

    Among the further conditions one might want to add are these: it is not interpenetrating with any other objects and it is not an extended simple.

  11. 11.

    Thanks to a referee for suggesting this supervenience principle.

  12. 12.

    A referee suggests that cases like Casper’s seem like successful counterexamples to the principle that facts about colocation obtain in virtue of simple location facts. Fair enough, but I do not share that intuition myself. Perhaps one reason to hesitate before concluding that cases like Casper’s are successful counterexamples to the principle in question is the availability of an alternative interpretation of those cases as special cases of singular location—an interpretation that I will ultimately recommend to the endurantist below. Even at this stage of the discussion there is something to be said for this alternative interpretation. Self-colocation already differs from standard colocation in at least one of the same ways that singular location does: it involves only one object (various readers have made this or related points). And if we deny that self-colocation obtains in virtue of simple location facts, this will only further decrease the resemblance between self-colocation and standard colocation, while increasing the resemblance between self-colocation and singular location.

  13. 13.

    For a related but distinct puzzle about motion, see Kleinschmidt (2017).

  14. 14.

    Though I will speak only of perdurantism, what I say in this section could be reframed in terms of its close cousin, stage theory, which is defended by authors such as Hawley (2001) and Sider (2001).

  15. 15.

    What should the perdurantist say in a case where younger and older Casper are intrinsic duplicates? I think that she should say there is only one instantaneous ghostlike object at r1 at t2, because positing two would be ontologically extravagant. In the case where younger casper is happy and older Casper is sad, the persistence of younger Casper at r1 causes a happy ghostlike object to occupy r1 at t2, while the movement of older Casper toward r1 causes a sad ghostlike object to occupy r1 at t2. But if old and younger Casper are (say) both happy, then the more parsimonious proposal is that there is one happy ghostlike object at r1 at t2 whose existence at that location is overdetermined by the persistence of younger Casper and the motion of older Casper. There won’t be any genuine colocation going on at r1 at t2, but it isn’t clear that this is a cost, for it is in keeping with how the perdurantist handles (some) other coincidence cases. The typical perdurantist says that some regions which seem to be occupied by distinct, colocated objects are in fact occupied by a single, shared temporal part of two or more (non-colocated) objects.

  16. 16.

    Thanks to a referee for this objection.

  17. 17.

    Granted, allowing interpenetration entails either that supersunstantivalism is false, or that regions themselves can interpenetrate. Some perdurantists will not be happy with this, but others won’t be bothered at all. I take it that this issue is largely independent of perdurantism itself. For more on interpenetration, see Gilmore (2014).

  18. 18.

    Anticipating either this response or at least a similar response, the referee worries that there will now be a violation of the Strong Supplementation axiom, which requires that, if one object x is not a part of another object y, then x has a part that doesn’t overlap y. But, while neither ghostlike object at r1 at t2 is part of the other, they do not violate Strong Supplementation because each ghostlike object does have a part that doesn’t overlap the other, namely, it’s improper part. Granted, these two improper parts are spatially coincident, but again, this doesn’t entail that they mereologically overlap; they may be interpenetrating.

  19. 19.

    As a referee observes, there may also be other options open to the perdurantist for making sense of self-colocation, since she might be able to extend her treatment of permanent material coincidence cases to apparent self-colocation cases. The endurantist, on the other hand, will probably find this sort of approach no more appealing as an account of self-colocation than as an account of permanent material coincidence.

  20. 20.

    Simon (2019) may have something like this in mind when he refers to Casper’s ‘two coincident manifestations’ (135).

  21. 21.

    One might push back by resisting the claim that there would only be one momentary object at r1 at t2 in the case just described. Why couldn’t there be two such objects which were intrinsically just alike—a happy Casper colocated with another happy Casper? I think this proposal suffers from a problem that I will press against duplication proposals below, by appealing to overdetermination.

  22. 22.

    Thanks to a referee for this suggestion. Simon (2019, p. 124) uses the language of being located at a region twice over in his discussion of self-colocation cases, but it’s unclear whether he means to be suggesting the strategy I pursue here under that description.

  23. 23.

    Hud Hudson is one prominent hyperspace and hypertime theorist. See especially Hudson (2005) and (2014).

  24. 24.

    The notion of personal time was introduced by Lewis (1976).

  25. 25.

    Thanks to a referee for pointing out the many forms that it could take.

  26. 26.

    My thanks to the many readers who pressed versions of this objection.

  27. 27.

    This argument is based on the recombinatorial arguments in Sider (2000) and Brzozowski (2008). cf. The recombinatorial arguments in McDaniel (2007a, b) and Saucedo (2011).

  28. 28.

    My thanks to the various readers who made this point or closely related points.

  29. 29.

    cf. Wasserman’s (2018, pp. 200–203) discussion of a self-colocated boson.

  30. 30.

    A referee raised this worry.

  31. 31.

    Thanks to Joshua Spencer, who helped me to develop the colocation puzzle and served as my mentor throughout the project. His suggestions show up throughout the paper in too many places to tag individually. Thanks to Phil Bricker, Joshua Spencer, and a referee for helping me to see that the puzzle could be framed as a problem primarily for the endurantist. Thanks also to Cody Gilmore, Stan Husi, William Wainwright, Blain Neufeld, the participants in Blain’s 2016 writing workshop, and various referees and editors for helpful discussion and/or written comments. Again, their suggestions show up throughout the paper in too many places to tag individually.

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Mooney, J. Self-colocation: a colocation puzzle for endurantists. Synthese (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-019-02402-7

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Keywords

  • Self-colocation
  • Colocation
  • Persistence
  • Endurantism
  • Perdurantism