Defending coincidence: An explanation of a sort

Abstract

Can different material objects have the same parts at all times at which they exist? This paper defends the possibility of such coincidence against the main argument to the contrary, the ‘Indiscernibility Argument’. According to this argument, the modal supervenes on the nonmodal, since, after all, the non-modal is what grounds the modal; hence, it would be utterly mysterious if two objects sharing all parts had different essential properties. The weakness of the argument becomes apparent once we understand how the modal is grounded in the nonmodal. By extending the ideas of combinatorialism so that we recombine haecceities as well as fundamental properties, we see how modal properties can be grounded in non-modal properties in a way that allows coincidence and yet also explains why there are differences in the modal properties of coinciding objects. Despite this, some de re modal facts are not grounded in the non-modal but instead are brute. However, although we cannot explain why a particular object has the basic modal properties it has, we can explain a closely related, semantic fact and, comparing the facts we can’t explain to more familiar brute facts, we understand why there should be no better explanation. As a result, we can see how coincidence is, after all, possible.

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Mark Moyer
University of Vermont

Citations of this work

Spatio-Temporal Coincidence and the Grounding Problem.Karen Bennett - 2004 - Philosophical Studies 118 (3):339-371.
What is the Grounding Problem?Louis deRosset - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 156 (2):173-197.

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