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Time as a Part of Physical Objects: The Modern 'Descartes-Minus Argument' and an Analogous Argument from Fourteenth-Century Logic (William Heytesbury and Albert of Saxony)

In: Vivarium
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Michael Fitzgerald
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Abstract

I argue in the essay that the fourteenth-century logicians William Heytesbury and Albert of Saxony developed an argument I call the Socrates-Minus Argument. Their analysis and rejection of it indicates a direction towards a pragmatic resolution to the contemporary Descartes-Minus Argument. Their resolution is similar to the view adopted today by Peter van Inwagen, namely, that “arbitrary undetached parts of physical objects,” like 'all of Socrates except his finger' simply do not exist. I conclude the fourteenth-century approach does not run afoul of Leibniz's law of the Indiscernibility of Identicals, but utilizes a form of Leibniz's Identity of Indiscernibles that, when combined with a weak “anthropic principle,” yield a pragmatic resolution to the Descartes-Minus Argument.

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