Persistence of Persistence

The classic arguments against perdurantism have not been covered in SS 3. In this article we discuss modal argument and rotating disk argument and their implications for perm. We also address problems with endurantism. For more details on these arguments see the links below. This article will be updated as new evidence emerges. In the meantime, please feel free to comment. Let us know if you find this article helpful. If so, please consider subscribing to the site!

Ontological commitment

What is the essence of ontological commitment? For the most part, this is the commitment of propositions, or theories, to their truth conditions. But there is another way of looking at ontological commitment. It can also be applied to theories construed as sets of sentences. Unlike the quantifier approach, the latter ignores the existence of variables in theory sentences. Both approaches miss ontological commitment. But which approach is best?

The most common way of putting ontological commitment into practice is to argue that a theory cannot be true without a set of Ks. But this is a shaky argument, because it fails to account for the existence of Ks. And even if the ontological commitment of a theory is a relative one, it still requires a set of Ks. A meta-ontologist cannot assert that a theory is ontologically committed to a theory unless it includes at least one of these ‘Ks’.

Ontological simplicity

The concept of ontological simplicity is frequently invoked in philosophical debates. Proponents of minimal ontologies argue that there are only two categories of fundamental entities: material and immaterial. The a priori justification of ontological simplicity often is invoked in such cases, but it is difficult to distinguish this claim from the lack of any. The notion of simplicity is often invoked as a primitive self-evident proposition, but this claim is insufficient and cannot be supported by philosophical reasoning.

The conflationary habit is a tendency to adopt an intuitive grasp of minimalism. The resulting conception of ontological simplicity expects object and theory-simplicity to converge. In this case, object-oriented minimalism is not justified because it assumes a conflation of ontological simplicity. However, ontological simplicity is a genuinely reductive notion. It is also an internal notion, which can be considered a form of epistemology.


There are many forms of persistence, including multi-location at instants. One form of persistence, called endurantism, involves objects having parts that are temporally undefined, but remain precisely located at some region of time. Similarly, something that remains exactly located at a four-dimensional extended spacetime region can persist without having any temporal parts at all. But what is the difference between an ordinary persisting object and an extended simple?

Problems with endurantism

The persistent nature of processes in a temporal universe cannot be reconciled with the notion that some things are eternal and others are temporary. The former requires a different account of persistence. But most endurantists maintain that processes do persist. The latter is a more radical view, which seems to obliterate the problem of change. For example, it seems that an unripe banana is not a problem. But is this really possible?

A traditional account of persistence does not invoke a metaphysics of temporal parts, which Kurtz calls MTP. This concept is often referred to as temporal parts or’stages’. The concept of a duck, for example, is composed of its temporal parts and the exdurantist claims that it is constituted of a single temporal part. Yet, this view does not account for the phenomenon of temporal parts in a temporary world.

Ontological compatibility

Using ontological commitment as a criterion for perm is not an adequate solution for the problem of false existentials. First of all, ontological commitment implies persistence through time. Second, ontological commitment implies that the criterion should be extended to first-order variables. In other words, ontological commitment can only be applied to first-order variables. Nevertheless, it seems reasonable to apply it to first-order variables.