There is nothing to identity

Synthese 199 (3-4):7321-7337 (2021)
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Abstract

Several have denied that there is, specifically, a criterion of identity for persons and some deny that there are, for any kind, diachronic criteria of identity. I argue, however, that there are no criteria of identity, either synchronic or diachronic, for any kind whatsoever. I begin by elaborating the notion of a criterion of identity in order to clarify what exactly is being denied when I maintain there are none. I examine the motivation of those who qualify in some way the general claim that there are synchronic and diachronic criteria of identity for every kind, then present my direct and categorical argument against such criteria. I next evaluate the objections of those who argue that rejecting criteria of identity has untenable results. These objections are ineffective, each based on the incorrect assumption that if there is no criterion of identity for a kind, the identity of an instance of that kind is independent of its qualities. I conclude by considering some of the upshots of rejecting criteria of identity and the insight doing so provides into things in general and the limits of ontological inquiry.

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M. Oreste Fiocco
University of California, Irvine

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