14 March 2019, 3pm

Dr. Florian Fischer, University of Siegen

Department of Philosophy, Building B Room B7/1140 Campus UAB

This video is part of the PROTEUS project that has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant agreement No. 758145)


Philosophical discussion of persistence, i.e. of existence though time, tends to focus on cases of persistence in change. However, there are many cases where objects or systems persist in stability. And, I argue, stability is as explanation-worthy as change. Stability is often brought about by massive cooperation, and objects and systems often exist through time only as long as their corresponding stability processes persist. In many areas of science stability is even more important than change. Examples are not hard to come by: the human body persists by metabolism; a literal exchange of matter brings about a (roughly) stable, persisting body. The corresponding human stops existing once the body loses metabolic power. Social systems like an entire state often only persist by a delicate balance of internal and external forces. This stability cannot be taken for granted, but has to be brought about by interaction of the different powers involved. Finally, vast astronomical entities like a solar system only persist by a delicate equilibrium of rotation energy and gravitational pull.

In this talk I will present a novel theory of persistence. Usually the tasks of giving a conceptual analysis of persistence and to give an account of how change, or stability for that matter, is brought about are treated as distinct. In contrast to this, I claim that actually this is an interrelated problem area. A comprehensive account of persistence and dispositions, I argue, renders cases of persistence in change and cases of persistence in stability as ontologically on a par.


Florian Fischer studied philosophy, German literature and astronomy at the University of Bonn and finished the logic year programme at the ILLC in Amsterdam. He obtained his PhD in Bonn in 2017 with a thesis about “Dispositional Laws of Nature”. He is currently working on “The Power to Change”, his Post-Doc project at the University of Siegen, bringing together philosophy of time and dispositions. Florian is currently president of the Society for Philosophy if Time – SPoT (www.spotime.org).