Document Type



When a tree is chopped to bits, or a sweater unraveled, its matter still exists. Since antiquity, it has sometimes been inferred that nothing really has been destroyed: what has happened is just that this matter has assumed new form. Contemporary versions hold that apparent destruction of a familiar object is just rearrangement of microparticles or of 'physical simples' or 'world stuff'. But if destruction of a familiar object is genuinely to be reduced to mere alteration of something else, we must identify an alternation proper to the career, the course of existence, of this something else; relatedly, the alteration must be characterizable without asserting the existence of the familiar object. All contemporary views fail one of these requirements.


Published in Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 53, No. 210, pp. 24-38 (January 2003). The definitive version is available at