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January 11, 2019

samesamebutdifferent: Ship of Theseus

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From Wikipedia:

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In the metaphysics of identity, the ship of Theseus is a thought experiment that raises the question of whether a ship — standing for an object in general — that has had all of its components replaced remains fundamentally the same object.

The Thought Experiment

First, suppose that the famous ship sailed by the hero Theseus in a great battle has been kept in a harbor as a museum piece. As the years go by some of the wooden parts begin to rot and are replaced by new ones. After a century or so, all of the parts have been replaced. Is the "restored" ship still the same object as the original?

Second, suppose that each of the removed pieces were stored in a warehouse, and after the century, technology develops to cure their rotting and enable them to be put back together to make a ship. Is this "reconstructed" ship the original ship? And if so, is the restored ship in the harbour still the original ship too?

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The Wikipedia article goes on to discuss a number of resolutions (below).

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January 11, 2019 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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