Four-Dimensionalism: An Ontology of Persistence and Time

Four-Dimensionalism: An Ontology of Persistence and Time

Four-Dimensionalism: An Ontology of Persistence and Time

Four-Dimensionalism: An Ontology of Persistence and Time


'This is simply a superb book in metaphysics - handsomely written, cleverly argued, and exceedingly clear.' -Hud Hudson, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews'Sider does not deny that this four-dimensionalist conception of persisting things is counterintuitive. His claim is that, all things considered, it yields a more coherent ontology than any of its competitors. His defence of this claim is impressive: bold, clear, wide-ranging and fair-minded; it is the best of its kind on offer.' -Barry Dainton, Times Literary SupplementFour Dimensionalism defends the thesis that the material world is composed of temporal as well as spatial parts. Along the way many topics concerning the metaphysics of time and identity over time are addressed. These include the status of past and future objects, the nature of motion and change, the existence of composite objects, and examples involving two things in the same place at the same time (such as statues and lumps of clay). An original and highly readable study of the metaphysics of time and identity.


This book articulates and defends four-dimensionalism: an ontology of the material world according to which objects have temporal as well as spatial parts.

Many others have defended four-dimensionalism. This book contributes new developments of the four-dimensional ontology, new arguments in favor of that ontology, and new lines of defense against objections.

The book is also distinguished by its attention to issues in the philosophy of time and their bearing on the question of temporal parts. the philosophy of time defended is the B-theory, the so-called 'tenseless theory of time'. Rival 'tensed' theories of time, in particular presentism, are rejected. These issues are introduced in Chapter 2 , and surface sporadically throughout the rest of the book. in addition to illuminating the debate over four-dimensionalism, Chapter 2 can stand alone as a contribution to the philosophy of time.

The other chapters can also, for the most part, be read on their own. Chapter 1 is an informal introduction to the four-dimensional picture of reality. Chapter 3 explores the debate over temporal parts more deeply and formally, and connects the debate to issues in the philosophy of time. Chapter 4 begins the task of defending four-dimensionalism by setting out all but one of the arguments for temporal parts to be considered. Chapter 5 takes up the final argument for temporal parts: that they are required to solve familiar puzzles involving coinciding objects. This includes, in part, a critical survey of rival accounts of the puzzle cases, including Wiggins-style constitution analyses, mereological essentialism, mereological nihilism, and others. That chapter also defends the identification of everyday objects with instantaneous stages rather than with spacetime worms. Finally, Chapter 6 defends four-dimensionalism from objections.

I feel a bit apologetic for retaining the term 'four-dimensionalism' as a name for the thesis that things have temporal parts. This is one standard usage of the term, but the term is also sometimes used (particularly

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