The Ship of Theseus will always be the same. This is due to some reasons. Correlation between identity and change in the world of idealistic field of metaphysics might appear easy but there are some complexities. Whenever an object transforms, it always changes in a certain way.
For instance, a child develops to something different implying that it transforms in terms of size and age. For reptiles such as snakes, they shed their skins. Both the child and the snake remain the same in one way or another. Therefore, properties of an object determine its shape. For illustrative purposes, an item A changes with regard to property B. This could only take place when an object A has property B but at later stage B does not have A.
Regarding the Ship of Theseus, the ship changed a lot but it remained the same in terms of its properties. It is the same thing with human life. People change from childhood to mid-adulthood and further to old age. An individual remains the same irrespective of whether he or she is at childhood, mid-adulthood or old age.
The Ship of Theseus could have changed in size and shape but it still had some characteristics that distinguished it from other ships. What happened to the ship was mere refurbishment. The ship could have changed completely if the owner decided to destroy it and use the materials to construct something different that does not look like a ship. The concept of recreation vs. destruction is applied explaining this case.
The ship cannot be any different because it has all parts that the previous ship had. In case the changes are taken seriously, things would be different whenever we view them for the second time. This would mean that any slight change in properties of an object would affect its existence. Therefore, it is true that properties should be explained in terms of time.
Indeed, they are indexed to time. A property is temporarily indexed meaning that it is subject to change. According to Leibniz, the ship is the same at all times (Browne 182). This is because ship A has properties that would be found in ship B. On the other hand, ship B has properties that could have been found in ship A. In this case, the common property is the mast. Ships A and B have indexes that are temporary.
Irrespective of philosophical theories applied, the Ship of Theseus would always remain the same. Endurantist theory holds that an object will always be the same throughout its history. At each moment in history, the object exists with all its properties. Perdurantist theory on the other hand would claim that objects are four-dimensional entities, which comprises of a sequence of temporal parts (Graves 445). An object is likened to a movie.
If someone recollected all boards that had been discarded and reassembled them by adding the original sail and mast then the person would still have the Ship of Theseus. Even the ship that had been sailing continuously is still the Ship of Theseus. The real meaning of the word ‘same’ depends on the context. For illustration, the original ship will be assigned letter X, the ship that had been sailing continuously would be labeled as Y while the assembled ship will be branded letter Z.
In case the original ship was to be demanded by the original owner because of one reason or another, ship Z would be given to him or her. It would be illegal to give the owner ship Y. It is therefore true to argue that ships X, Y and Z are the same. Ship Y belongs to a different owner because the first owner did not take part in producing it. Materials used in making the second ship that is, Y, have the same features as those used in making both X and Z. Part or whole of Z is the same as X.
In fact, the materials used to construct Z are the same as those used in manufacturing X. This does not mean that Y is different. For further illustration, materials used in making ship Y might be changed but the crew remains the same. The crew might as well be transferred to work in ships X and Z.
The issue of ‘sameness’ is a matter of convention. There are some factors that people consider before declaring something to be the same with another. Two things might be declared the same based on one principle. For the Ship of Theseus, X was the same as Y because materials used in constructing them had the same characteristics.
Equally, Y could be said to be the same as Z in terms of properties. Conversely, X and Z are said to be the same because materials from X were used in manufacturing Z. The three ships are also the same because the same crew can operate them.
In conclusion, the problem of personal identity is related to change. An elderly person in his or her late 80s was the same person when he or she was in his or her early 20s.
Browne, Ray. Objects of Special Devotion: Fetishism in Popular Culture. New York, NY: Popular Press, 1982. Print.
Graves, Robert. The Golden Fleece. London: Hutchinson, 1983. Print.