Worming our way out of coincidence
Hemmer, Shane K.
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Four dimensionalism is the philosophical theory that every object that exists has a temporal part at each moment it exists. Temporal parts are analogous to spatial parts: just as my hand is a (spatial) part of my body, the first year of my life is a temporal part of my whole life. Among the philosophers who endorse four dimensionalism, there is disagreement over how objects persist, or survive over a period of time. Some philosophers think that objects persist by having temporal parts at each moment they exist. The object is properly considered to be the sum of all those temporal parts. This is the view of perdurantism, which I defend in this paper. Some other philosophers believe that objects simply are the temporal parts themselves, rather than sums, or fusions of temporal parts. They persist by being related to other temporal parts in specific ways. This is the view known as the stage theory. My goal is to show that the stage theory requires us to accept too many philosophically problematic claims. Most of the discussion in this paper deals with the "puzzles of coincidence." Coincidence is said to occur when two distinct objects seem to be located in precisely the same place. There are actually two problems presented by these puzzles: (1) that ordinary physical objects seem to be prohibited by the laws of nature from being co-located, and (2) that the seemingly distinct co-located objects are composed of all the same physical parts. Both perdurantism and the stage theory offer solutions to these puzzles. I argue that perdurantism offers the better solution. Later in the paper, I offer other reasons not to accept the stage theory.