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Location, multi-location and endurance

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Endurance theorists have often appealed to the notions of exact location or occupation and multi-location in order to explain how objects persist through spacetime in the context of the Special Theory of Relativity (STR). Specifically, endurantists invoke these two notions in order to claim that objects persist through spacetime by exactly occupying multiple spacetime regions, each of which is temporally unextended and disjoint from the other. The aim of this paper is to provide a better understanding of these two notions and of the implications they have for understanding our preferred account of endurance. Bearing such aim in mind, in the first section of the paper I discuss the five conditions proposed by Cody Gilmore that any account of exact occupation must satisfy, and also the difficulties that arise for this cluster of conditions (2006). In the next section I evaluate an Parsons’ alternative proposal, which defines exact occupation in terms of overlap (2007). In spite of some advantages over Gilmore’s account, one noticeable shortcoming of this account is that it does not allow enduring objects to be multi-located at different spacetime regions. Enduring objects exactly occupy one spacetime region, which coincides with their spatiotemporal path. Next, I explore the possibility of a middle ground between Gilmore’s and Parsons’ account, which might allow us to retain the advantages of Parsons’ accounts along with multi-location. Such theory seems to be defended by Crisp and Smith (2005), but I argue that they fail in their attempt of treating overlap as primitive and at the same time allowing multi-location. If time allows, I will finally discuss the prospects for some alternative ways of characterizing the endurance vs. perdurance debate which are available for those who remain skeptics of the intelligibility of the notion of multi-location. Crucially, these ways of characterizing the current debate would switch its focus of the dispute from issues about location to issues about parthood (Donnelly 2010, 2011).

This talk is part of the HPS Philosophy Workshop series.

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