Philosophy Colloquium
Erica Schumener
A Problem with Identity

Identity and distinctness facts come in many varieties, but here is an uncontroversial pair: The Eiffel Tower is identical with The Eiffel Tower, and Donald Trump is distinct from Barack Obama. David Lewis claimed that “there is never any problem about what makes something identical to itself.” I disagree: I believe there is a problem of determining what makes objects identical to themselves. We should provide a metaphysical explanation of identity facts. And, ideally, distinctness facts should come along for the ride: we should be able to metaphysically explain them as well. I will argue that many straightforward attempts to explain identity and distinctness facts fail. We cannot explain facts involving object identity and distinctness by appealing to the existence of the objects in question, by appealing to which properties the objects share (at least not along the traditional proposals), nor by appealing to facts about parthood. Instead, I suggest that we identify and distinguish objects on the basis of which facts they are constituents of. And we should identify and distinguish facts on the basis of their position in a network of metaphysical ground.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Skinner 1115