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The Paradox of Theseus’s Ship (90 Second Philosophy)

December 7, 2019


Welcome back to 90 Second Philosophy with Carneades.org! Today we’re going to be continuing our series of Philosophical Paradoxes with Part II – The Paradox of Theseus’s Ship! This is a paradox for the idea of Identity. Identity is basically what doing have –
as far as criteria – for telling that something is the same over time. i.e. How can I tell if something is the same at one time, or a later time? So imagine Theseus has a ship, it’s made of some planks, a mast, and some sails. Along the course of his journey, one of the planks is rotten and Theseus has to replace it. Is it still the same ship? I think most people would say, “A single plank being replaced? It’s the same ship…” But what if we replace another one? Or Some more planks? At what point does this ship become no longer the same ship? When the last plank has been replaced? If you had the intuition that this IS still the same ship… what would happen if someone took all of those planks, the mast and the sail from that old ship… …and made another ship? Which one of these ships is now Theseus’s ship? Being a good sceptic, I’m not going to solve this problem for you. I’ll leave that up to you dogmatists that want to believe in concepts like “Identity.” That was the Paradox of Theseus’s Ship! Check out these videos and more at Carneades.org! And stay sceptical everybody!

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