Philosophy Lexicon of Arguments

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Ship of Theseus: is a thought experiment, handed down from ancient times. It is assumed that the ship is being renewed bit by bit by replacing its parts. Here, the question is discussed, whether after the exchange of all parts it is still the same ship. A variant of the problem assumes that an additional ship can be reconstructed from the original parts drifted ashore. See also perdurantism, endurantism, four-dimensionalism, identity, change, sorites.

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Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

 
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I 287
Ship of Theseus/terminology/Millikan: S0: the original
Sn: the ship, newly built from new parts.
Sr: the renovated ship ((s) intermediate stage).
All three are ship stages.
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I 287
Question: was the whole permanent whole, of which Sn was a part, the same permanent whole like that, of which S0 was a part? Or correspondingly with Sr and S0?
Solution/Millikan: a solution can only be given if the principle is established before, according to which the unit (uniformity) is to be determined.
Problem: it seems clear that both Sn and Sr cannot be parts of the same whole. Because they exist at the same time in different places.
Problem: For example, three water surfaces S1, S2, S3, if they are designed in a way that it is unclear whether S1 and S2 are part of the same lake and correspondingly also for S1 and S3, it would be inconceivable that it would be completely clear at the same time, that S2 and S3 were not part of the same lake.
N.B.: Is there perhaps an asymmetry at the end between temporal and spatial parts?
Ship of Theseus: Sn and Sr cannot be stages of the same ship because they exist simultaneously but have different properties and occupy different spatial parts composed of different collections of matter, etc.
Identity/Leibniz/Millikan: his undisputed principle excludes that Sn and Sr are the same ship.
Unity/Uniformity/Millikan: whatever principle we choose here, it seems that it should rule out that different temporal parts could exist at the same time.
Separation/Millikan: i.e. a separation should not preserve both parts equally, as in an amoeba.
Unit/Millikan: a corresponding principle must maintain the Leibniz principle of the identity of the indistinguishable.
Problem: the principle simply says that a thing must have the same properties as it does itself. It does not say that a part must have the same properties as another part.
Ship of Theseus: then Sn and Sr could be simultaneous but spatially distant parts.
Spatial/temporal/Millikan: it is rather the principle of uniformity (not the one of identity) that requires that objects have only one position at a time.
Mereology/Unity/Uniformity/Millikan: we often break this principle when we say that the same thing still exists when it is broken or decomposed into its parts.
Definition/thing/object/Millikan: nevertheless, we need the principle of uniformity to define objects at all.
Seperation/Millikan: a ban on division would have nothing to do with the principle of identity.
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I 289
Ship of Theseus/Millikan: Whether we say that newly built ship or the ship built from the original parts would be the right ship, is in the end only a verbal question of the principles of uniformity that we want to apply.
On the other hand:
Identity/Millikan: Questions of identity are objective questions that are not only decided by the language usage,
Unity/Uniformity/Millikan: is a question of used descriptions.
Separation/fusion/identity in time/temporal/Millikan: are actually questions of the chosen (conventional) principles of unity. (Uniformity)
Identity/Objectivity/Millikan: Questions of identity are objective questions in which one can be confused about what to think, not merely what one is to say.
Temporal identity/Millikan: temporal identity is not more problematic than spatial identity.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.

Millk I
R. G. Millikan
Language, Thought, and Other Biological Categories: New Foundations for Realism Cambridge 1987


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2017-12-18