Names, Pronouns and Persistence
Emanuel Viebahn (Freie Universität Berlin)

March 1, 2024, 3:00pm - 5:00pm
Department of Philosophy, University of Adelaide

Napier 210
Napier Building
Adelaide 5005


University of Adelaide

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Abstract We commonly use names and pronouns to pick out persisting entities, such as persons, kangaroos or cities. What is the nature and temporal extent of the entities picked out? Different theories of persistence answer this question quite differently. Endurantists hold that we pick out wholly present objects, while perdurantists hold that we pick out spacetime worms (worm theory) or instantaneous stages (stage theory). The first aim of this talk is to argue that none of these answers matches how we use names and pronouns in everyday discourse, as these expressions exhibit (what I call) persistence context-sensitivity: one and the same name or pronoun can be used to pick out entities of different temporal extent, even if the subject of the discussion is held fixed. The second aim of the talk is to explore implications of this result for the philosophy of persistence and the semantics of names and pronouns.   

This talk is part of the Australian Research Council funded project Everything in its Place.

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