The Metaphysics of Identity: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Metaphysics of Identity

1st Edition

By André Gallois


216 pages

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The philosophical problem of identity and the related problem of change go back to the ancient Greek philosophers and fascinated later figures including Leibniz, Locke, and Hume. Heraclitus argued that one could not swim in the same river twice because new waters were ever flowing in. When is a river not the same river? If one removes one plank at a time when is a ship no longer a ship? What is the basic nature of identity and persistence?

In this book, André Gallois introduces and assesses the philosophical puzzles posed by things persisting through time. Beginning with essential historical background to the problem he explores the following key topics and debates:

  • mereology and identity, including arguments from 'Leibniz's Law'
  • the constitution view of identity
  • the 'relative identity' argument concerning identity
  • temporary identity
  • four-dimensionalism, counterpart and multiple counterpart theory
  • supervenience
  • the problem of temporary intrinsics
  • the necessity of identity
  • Indeterminate identity
  • presentism
  • criteria of identity
  • conventionalism about identity.

Including chapter summaries, annotated further reading and a glossary, this book is essential reading for anyone seeking a clear and informative introduction to and assessment of the metaphysics of identity.


'An excellent guide through - and contribution to - the extensive literature on identity and persistence. Gallois’ book is clear and accessible, and usefully brings together an array of historical and contemporary puzzles about how material objects continue to exist through time and change.' - Karen Bennett, Cornell University, USA

'Gallois’s book is an excellent introduction to the philosophical puzzles connected to identity, change, and persistence. Its scope, clarity, and accessibility make it an ideal text for an undergraduate metaphysics course.' - Ryan Wasserman, Western Washington University, USA

'Gallois’s book is a gem. Philosophers at every level will return repeatedly to the text for reference and clarification on the central issues that concern persistence and identity over time. It brings cutting edge and historical work together, and manages to give plenty of detail while remaining accessible to undergraduates.' - Chad Carmichael, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, USA

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Historical Background

3. The Puzzles of Persistence

4. Endurantist Solutions to the Puzzle Cases Part 1

5. Endurantist Solutions to the Puzzle Cases Part 2

6. A Four-dimensional World

7. Identity Criteria, Conventionalism and the Problem of Change.




About the Author

André Gallois is Professor of Philosophy at Syracuse University, USA. His previous publications on issues about identity and persistence include his book Occasions of Identity (OUP, 1998).

About the Series

New Problems of Philosophy

New Problems of Philosophy

Series Editor: José Luis Bermúdez, Texas A&M University

'Routledge's New Problems of Philosophy series has a most impressive line-up of topical volumes aimed at upper-level undergraduate and graduate students in philosophy and at others with interests in cutting edge philosophical work. The authors are influential figures in their respective fields and notably adept at synthesizing and explaining intricate topics fairly and comprehensively.' - John Heil, Monash University, Australia, and Washington University, St Louis, USA

'This is an outstanding collection of volumes. The topics are well chosen and the authors are outstanding. They will be fine texts in a wide range of courses.' - Stephen Stich, Rutgers University, USA

The New Problems of Philosophy series provides accessible and engaging surveys of the most important problems in contemporary philosophy. Each book examines a topic or theme that has emerged on the philosophical landscape in recent years, or that is a longstanding problem refreshed in light of recent work in philosophy and related disciplines. Clearly explaining the nature of the problem at hand and assessing attempts to answer it, books in the series are excellent starting-points for undergraduate and graduate students wishing to study a single topic in depth. They will also be essential reading for professional philosophers. Additional features include chapter summaries, further reading, and a glossary of technical terms.

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