The Discernibility of Identicals

Journal of Philosophical Research 24:37-55 (1999)
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Abstract

I argue via examples that there are cases in which things that are not two distinct things qualitatively differ without contradiction. In other words, there are cases in which something differs from itself. Standard responses to such cases are to divide the thing into distinct parts, or to conceive of the thing under different descriptions, or to appeal to different times, or to deny that the property had is the property lacked. I show these responses to be unsatisfactory. I then gather and systematize available ways of talking about such cases with phrases like ‘insofar as’ , ‘qua’ , ‘to the extent that’, ‘in some respect’, etc., while paying special attention to the scope of ‘not’ when used with these phrases. This allows me to show how we can speak of self-differing without contradiction.

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Donald L. M. Baxter
University of Connecticut

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