PHIL 360 Paper

PHIL 360 Paper - Trang Ho Philosophy 360 Paper #1 03-24-11...

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Trang Ho Philosophy 360 Paper #1 03-24-11 A Defense of Heller’s Four-Dimensional Ontology Prompt: "Heller defends the claim that there are four dimensional objects with temporal parts and argues that to deny this is to be committed to one of five unappealing claims. Explain and critically evaluate his argument." The task of this paper will be to critically examine a four-dimensional view of objects in terms of Heller’s characterization of such objects, and his argument that we ought to accept a four-dimensional ontology over a three-dimensional ontology. First, Heller’s argument will be reconstructed, and discussed. Second, Chisholm and Thompson criticize Heller’s view. Third, Heller’s view is defended as the most reasonable, coherent view. Finally, a discussion about what kinds of criticism might effectively be leveled at Heller. Heller’s main goal is to get us to accept a four-dimensional view of objects over a three-dimensional view. Preliminarily he suggests that holding a three-dimensional view is only a matter of convention, it is the only view we’ve held up to this point in history. To actually convince us that we have a very good reason to switch our view of objects to a four-dimensional view he gives us five unpleasant alternatives that must all be denied to accept three-dimensionalism. But accepting all of these alternatives leads to a contradiction. Various other thinkers have chosen to accept one of the five alternatives, but Heller thinks that what is necessary is not choosing one of these unappealing 1
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alternatives, but rather accepting a four-dimensional ontology, which can deny all of the alternatives. Let us reconstruct Heller’s argument. The retention of three-dimensional ontology (i.e. one that posits the existence of enduring three-dimensional objects) requires commitment to at least one principle, which appears to lead to rather absurd consequences. A three-dimensionalist may say (1) there is no physical object x, such that x is my body, or (2) There is no physical object x in space that is occupied by all of me except my left hand. (1) seems rather unpleasant, since we all tend to have the experience of having a body, and (2) simply seems strange to accept under a three-dimensional view. Next we have the idea that Chisholm famously accepts, (3) Physical objects cannot lose parts. What the acceptance of this leads to is essentially the denial that things exist, since things are changing every moment, and losing parts in some sense, things don’t exist. (4) Two distinct physical objects can occupy the same space at the same time. Accepting this seems to be rather impossible, though philosophers have a great reputation for attempting just that. It is not clear what the acceptance of this really leads to, and it in fact it is the denial of this that appears to make the difference between three-dimensional and four-dimensional theories. The final unappealing alternative is to accept (5) identity lacks transitivity. This just seems
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PHIL 360 Paper - Trang Ho Philosophy 360 Paper #1 03-24-11...

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