Syllabus: Seminar on Persistence


Three short papers (3 pages or so), seminar paper. The short papers may be turned in on any chosen day, and should concern that week's reading. One paper must be turned in by 2/10, another by 3/9, and another by 4/13. One of the short papers may turn into (part of) the seminar paper. The short papers should be short and focused, and may be purely expository.


Sider, Four-Dimensionalism (OUP, 2001), plus articles, which will be made available in a folder in Susan Viola's office. The web bibliography mentioned above is fairly exhaustive with respect to the course's topics, and also contains a handy short list of (non-required) central background reading.


(See the course bibliography for full references.)

Survey of Persistence
(Sider, 1/20)
  • Sider, Four-Dimensionalism, chapters 1, 5 (except sections 5, 8)
  • Zimmerman, "Material Persons"
(Sider, Zimmerman, 1/27)
  • Sider, 4D-ism, chapter 2
  • Zimmerman, "Temporary intrinsics and presentism"
  • Zimmerman,
Properties and time
Temporary intrinsics
(Zimmerman, 2/3)
  • Lewis, On the plurality of worlds, pp. 202-204
  • Lewis, "Tensing the copula"
  • Haslanger, "Persistence through time"
Rotating disk
(Sider, 2/3)
  • Zimmerman, "Temporal parts and supervenient causation: the incompatibility of two Humean doctrines"
  • Lewis, "Zimmerman and the Spinning Sphere"
  • Zimmerman, "One Really Big Liquid Sphere: Reply to Lewis"
  • Sider, 4D-ism, chapter 6, section 5
Relationalism and endurance
(Sider, 2/10)
  • Sider, 4D-ism, chapter 4, section 8
  • Hawthorne and Sider, "Locations"
Gunk and properties
(Sider, 2/17)
  • Parsons, "Distributional properties"
Constitution: non-coincidence views
Temporal parts; argument from vagueness
(Sider, 2/17)
  • Sider, 4D-ism, chapter 4, section 9
  • Olson, "Temporal parts and timeless parthood"
  • Merricks, "Composition and vagueness" (optional)
Endurance views
(Zimmerman, 2/24, 3/2 (may begin 2/17)
  • van Inwagen, "When are objects parts?"
  • Markosian, "Brutal composition"
  • Sider, 4D-ism, chapter 5, sections 4, 6, 7
  • Burke, "Preserving the principle of one object to a place: a novel account of the relations among objects, sorts, sortals, and persistence conditions"
  • Merricks, "There are no criteria of identity over time"
  • Zimmerman, "Criteria of identity and the 'identity mystic'"
(Zimmerman, 3/9, 3/23)
  • Shoemaker, "Identity, properties and causality"
  • Shoemaker, "Self, body and coincidence"
  • Zimmerman, "An examination of Sydney Shoemaker's metaphysics"
(Sider, 3/30)
  • Sider, 4D-ism, chapter 5, section 3
  • Fine, "The non-identity of a thing and its matter"
Constitution and the nature of parthood
(Sider, 3/30, 4/6)
  • Thomson, "Parthood and identity across time"
  • Fine, "Things and their parts"
  • Johnston, "Constitution"
  • Lewis, Parts of classes, section 3.6
  • Sider, "Parthood"
Conventionalism about personal identity
(Zimmerman, 4/13)
  • Johnston, "Relativism and the Self"
  • Robinson, "Failing to Agree or Failing to Disagree? 'Personal Identity Quasi-Relativism'"
  • Braddon-Mitchell and Miller, "How to be a conventional person"
(Sider, 4/20, 4/27)
  • Carnap, "Empiricism, semantics and ontology"
  • Hirsch, "Quantifier Variance and Realism"
  • Hirsch, "Ontological arguments: interpretive charity and quantifier variance"
  • Sider, 4D-ism, introduction
  • Sider, "Personal identity and the limits of conceptual analysis"
  • Eklund, "The deflationary conception of ontology"