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Ship of Theseus: Paradox Analysis

Representing a peculiar thought experiment, the concept of the Ship of Theseus might seem fairly simple. However, further contemplations reveal that the notion in question, as well as the dilemma that it provides, are exceptionally nuanced. Implying a question of whether replacing every part of an object (specifically, a ship) with identical ones means changing the object in question, the ship of Theseus prompts speculations about the nature of objective reality and its perception, as well as the notion of semantics (Rose et al., 2020). Nevertheless, by viewing the Ship of Theseus as a contradiction in which the historical identity of a ship and a nebulous concept of a ship are conflated, one may conclude that its form and shape before and after the transformation remain identical, yet every stage occurring in between those phases implies that the ship is non-existent after the first change is made.

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Thus, while the physical form assumed by the Ship of Theseus remains the same both prior to the transformation and after it ends, any other stage implies that the ship is modified and, therefore, no longer represents its initial, intact identity. Consequently, the Ship of Theseus ceases to exist after the very first modification is made due to the fact that the physical structure and shape of the ship at any point in time in between the state before the transformation and after it alter constantly, the final version of the ship cannot be considered indistinguishable from the initial one (Rose et al., 2020). Therefore, the Ship of Theseus is significantly different from the ship that emerges after the transformation, shaving nothing in common with the final version except the form. For this reason, the paradox of the Ship of Theseus can be solved by distinguishing between the nature of the ship and its physical form. Consequently, the answer to the paradox from the described perspective would imply that the ships are not the same.

Reference

Rose, D., Machery, E., Stich, S., Alai, M., Angelucci, A., Berniūnas, R.,… Grinberg, M. (2020). The ship of Theseus puzzle. Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy, 3(3), 158-186.

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