Philosophy and Phenomenological Research

Volume 57, Issue 2, June 1997

W. R. Carter
Pages 371-379

Dion’s Left Foot (and the Price of Burkean Economy)

Two recent papers by Michael Burke bearing upon the persistence of people and commonplace things illustrate the fact that the quest for synchronic ontological economy is likely to encourage a disturbing diachronic proliferation of entities. This discussion argues that Burke’s promise of ontological economy is seriously compromised by the fact that his proposed metaphysic does violence to standard intuitions concerning the persistence of people and commonplace things. In effect, Burke would have us achieve synchronic economy (rejection of coincident entities) by postulating strongly counterintuitive transtemporal claims of numerical diversity. The argument is made that the price of Burkean economy is too high.