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How do things persist? Are material objects spread out through time just as they are spread out through space? Or is temporal persistence quite different from spatial extension? This key question lies at the heart of any metaphysical exploration of the material world, and it plays a crucial part in debates about personal identity and survival. Katherine Hawley explores and compares three theories of persistence - endurance, perdurance, and stage theories - investigating the ways in which they attempt to account for the world around us. Having provided valuable clarification of its two main rivals, she concludes by advocating stage theory. Such a basic issue about the nature of the physical world naturally has close ties with other central philosophical problems. How Things Persist includes discussions of change and parthood, of how we refer to material objects at different times, of the doctrine of Humean supervenience, and of the modal features of material things. In particular, it contains new accounts of the nature of worldly vagueness, and of what binds material things together over time, distinguishing the career of a natural object from an arbitrary sequence of events.
Each chapter concludes with a reflection about the impact of these metaphysical debates upon questions about our personal identity and survival. Both students and professional philosophers will find that this wide-ranging study provides ideal access to the lively modern debate about an ancient metaphysical problem.
Katherine Hawley is Lecturer in Logic and Metaphysics at the University of St Andrews.