Being in time
Person photo Prof Paul Needham
Theoretical Philosophy (Department of Philosophy)

Funding source: Swedish Research Council - Vetenskapsr├ądet (VR)
Period: 1/1/08 - 12/31/10
Funding: 1566000 SEK
There has been a marked revival of interest in metaphysics after the demise of positivism and the worst excesses of linguistic philosophy. Ontological issues about objects’ relation to time have been widely discussed recently. I propose to contribute to this area by arguing for (i) a conception of 3-dimensional objects which endure over time and comprise two categories of entities: countable individuals and the matter of which individuals are constituted, and (ii) an analysis of processes, which differ from enduring 3-dimensional objects in having temporal parts. Parthood and related conceptions, studied under the general heading of mereology, are central to the debate, and many problems revolve around the correct application and development of mereological concepts. In particular, 4-dimensionalists argue for an alternative conception of how physical objects persist through time, doing away with the three-fold distinction between individuals, matter and processes, by relying heavily on a certain interpretation of mereological concepts. Further, some 3-dimensionalists who accept a distinction between 3-dimensional objects and processes argue against the distinction between individuals and their constitutive matter. Building on my previous work on chemistry and the detailed application of mereological concepts, I propose to defend the position outlined here by meeting the critical challenges and developing a positive account of the ontological categories of entities concerned.
Research fields (1)