Can a City Be Relocated? Exploring the Metaphysics of Context- Dependency

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This paper explores the Persistence Question about cities, that is, what is necessary and sufficient for two cities existing at different times to be numerically identical. We first show that we can possibly put an end to the existence of a city in a number of ways other than by physically destroying it, which reveals the metaphysics of cities to be partly different from that of ordinary objects. Then we focus in particular on the commonly perceived vulnerability of cities to imaginary relocation; and we make the hypothesis that cities do have among their essential properties that of being surrounded by a specific geographical context. Finally we investigate the pos- sibility that a city can survive relocation in virtue of the capacity of its geographical context to survive it in the first place. We suggest that city contexts may not be essentially context-dependent in turn, and outline a possible description of the cri- teria for their persistence over time.

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Nicola Piras
Universidade do Minho


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