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Publication Detail
Death, destruction & derivative existence
  • Publication Type:
  • Authors:
    Jansen CM
  • Date awarded:
  • Status:
  • Awarding institution:
    UCL (University College London)
  • Language:
The ultimate goal of this thesis is to argue that a particular ontological claim, which I call the ‘sortal instantiation thesis’ (associated primarily with the work of David Wiggins), has been overstated. On this view, each object is given a metaphysically privileged characterisation, which references a kind of which it is an instance. Whilst I agree that such characterisations are deeply caught up with the metaphysics of objects, I dispute the further thought that an object must instantiate its characterising kind whenever it exists. My first chapter introduces the sortal instantiation thesis and notes that it is faced with a particular challenge in accounting for identity through change (owing to the fact that kind terms typically hold of an entity at or across particular times). Following this, the following two chapters present a counter-example to this claim. I plan to argue that (at least some) animals do not cease to exist upon their deaths (instead they continue to exist as corpses). A corpse, however, does not fall under the kind ‘animal’; upon its death, an animal becomes little more than a structured collection of organic tissues. Following this, the fourth and final chapter of my thesis modifies the sortal instantiation thesis in light of this counter-example. I shall suggest that we see a corpse as a type of metaphysical ‘remnant’, whose continued existence depends upon a kind which it does not exemplify. The role that kinds play in settling identity questions does not, therefore, require their exemplification, as the sortal instantiation thesis suggests. Instead, I shall suggest, something much weaker is involved in an entity’s being ‘characterised’ by a given sort.
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