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On the Persistence of Particles

Butterfield, Jeremy (2004) On the Persistence of Particles. [Preprint]


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This paper is about the metaphysical debate whether objects persist over time by the selfsame object existing at different times (nowadays called `endurance' by metaphysicians), or by different temporal parts, or stages, existing at different times (called ` perdurance'). I aim to illuminate the debate by using some elementary kinematics and real analysis: resources which metaphysicians have, surprisingly, not availed themselves of. There are two main results, which are of interest to both endurantists and perdurantists. (1): I describe a precise formal equivalence between the way that the two metaphysical positions represent the motion of the objects of classical mechanics (both point-particles and continua). (2): I make precise, and prove a result about, the idea that the persistence of objects moving in a void is to be analysed in terms of tracking the continuous curves in spacetime that connect points occupied by matter. The result is entirely elementary: it is a corollary of the Heine-Borel theorem.

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Item Type: Preprint
Butterfield, Jeremy
Additional Information: Dedicated to the memory of Jim Cushing; forthcoming in Foundations of Physics
Keywords: Persistence, temporal parts, endurantism, perdurantism, criteria of identity, particles, spatiotemporal continuity, Heine-Borel theorem
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
Depositing User: Jeremy Butterfield
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2004
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 15:12
Item ID: 1586
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
Date: January 2004

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