Trang Ho - PHIL 360 Paper 1

Trang Ho - PHIL 360 Paper 1 - Trang Ho Philosophy 360 Paper...

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Trang Ho Philosophy 360 Paper #1 03-24-11 A Defense of Heller’s Four-Dimensional Ontology 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. Let us briefly state the difference between three-dimensional and four- dimensional ontologies. Under three-dimensional ontology, objects are taken to exist in time, usually it is said that they endure through time. Temporal states of objects in three- dimensional ontology create Thompson’s “crazy metaphysic” because of ex nihilo creation, and other assorted difficulties that will be discussed later. The language used to talk about objects in three-dimensional ontology is an object existing at time t1, and some other time t2. In contrast, four-dimensional ontology conceptualizes objects as hunks of matter extended in four spatiotemporal dimensions. Temporal states are intrinsically explained in four-dimensional ontology, and the language used is that objects exist from some time t1, until another time t2. Objects exist as wholes, and you see a part of the object at any given time, but you see the whole object, in the same way that a piece of 1
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paper is in a drawer even if only its corner is in the drawer. What it means to be extended in time is to have these parts of the whole object present at different times. 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 implausible alternatives that must all be denied to accept three-dimensionalism most effectively. But accepting all of these claims leads to a contradiction, hence three-dimenstionalists are committed to accepting at least one of these implausible claims, which has lead to a good deal of absurdity. Heller contends that what is necessary is not choosing one of these unappealing alternatives, but rather accepting a four-dimensional ontology, which can deny all of the claims. 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
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This note was uploaded on 04/06/2011 for the course PHIL 360 taught by Professor Vihvelin during the Spring '11 term at USC.

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Trang Ho - PHIL 360 Paper 1 - Trang Ho Philosophy 360 Paper...

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