Restricted Diachronic Composition and Special Relativity

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Abstract

When do objects at different times compose a further object? This is the question of diachronic composition. The universalist answers, ‘under any conditions whatsoever’. Others argue for restrictions on diachronic composition: composition occurs only when certain conditions are met. Recently, some philosophers have argued that restrictions on diachronic compositions are motivated by our best physical theories. In Persistence and Spacetime and elsewhere, Yuri Balashov argues that diachronic compositions are restricted in terms of causal connections between object stages. In a recent article, Nikk Effingham ([2011]) argues that the standard objections to views that endorse restrictions on composition do not apply to a view that restricts composition according to compliance with the laws of nature. On the face of it, such restrictions on diachronic composition preserve our common-sense ontology while eliminating from it scientifically revisionary objects that travel faster than the speed of light.

I argue that these attempts to restrict diachronic composition by appealing to either causal or nomological constraints face insurmountable difficulties within the context of special relativity. I discuss how the universalist should best respond to Hudson’s argument for superluminal objects, and in doing so, I present and defend a new sufficient condition for motion that does not entail that such objects are in superluminal motion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-255
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Volume66
Issue number2
Early online date18 Sep 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015

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