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Minor Entities

Edited by Noel Saenz (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)
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Summary Supposing that holes, reflections, shadows, absences and omissions (minor entities) exist, what is their nature? Are they concrete? If so, are they material or immaterial. Take holes. If they exist, they exist in space and time. After all, the hole in my doughnut persists and is certainly located. But it does not appear to be concrete since it is, it would seem, merely the absence of the doughnut material surrounding it. But do holes, reflections, shadows, etc. even exist? Everyday speak would seem to have it so. After all, we say things like 'There is a hole in my shirt' and 'in a fit of rage, so-and-so punched a hole in the wall'. We also attribute to things like wholes, shadows and reflection causal powers: my shirt is unwearable because it has too many holes; my shadow startled me in the middle of the night; my reflection in a funny mirror made me laugh. Should we take such talk literally?
Key works For some key works on the nature and existence of minor entities, see Lewis & Lewis 1970, Casati & Varzi 1994 and Sorensen 2008.
Introductions For a nice introduction on holes, see Casati & Varzi 2014. For a nice introduction on omissions, see Bernstein 2015. For a nice introduction on nothingness that touches on issues related to minor entities, see Sorensen 2008.
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  1. John T. Ford C. S. C. (2012). Shadows and Images: A Novel. By Meriol Trevor. Newman Studies Journal 9 (2):102-103.
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  2. C. John T. Ford (2012). Shadows and Images: A Novel. By Meriol Trevor. [REVIEW] Newman Studies Journal 9 (2):102-103.
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  3. John Kleinig (1989). Persons, Lines, and Shadows. Ethics 100 (1):108-115.
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  4. Janice Mirikitani (forthcoming). Shadow in Stone. Feminist Studies.
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  5. Graham Nerlich (1994). Holes in the Role Argument. In Dag Prawitz & Dag Westerståhl (eds.), Logic and Philosophy of Science in Uppsala. Kluwer 465--482.
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  6. Victor Ieronim Stoichi÷tæa (1999). A Short History of the Shadow. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
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  7. Samuel Todes & Charles Daniels (1975). Part I. Beyond the Doubt of a Shadow. In Don Ihde & Richard M. Zaner (eds.), Dialogues in Phenomenology. Martinus Nijhoff 86--93.
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  8. Robin Vose (2010). Ladder of Shadows: Reflecting on Medieval Vestige in Provence and Languedoc. [REVIEW] The Medieval Review 12.
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  9. Joan Goodnick Westenholz (1999). In the Shadow of the Muses: A View of Akkadian Literature. Journal of the American Oriental Society 119 (1):80.
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Holes
  1. D. M. Armstrong (1996). Holes and Other Superficialities by Roberto Casati and Achille C. Varzi. Journal of Philosophy 93 (11):585-586.
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  2. David Braddon-Mitchell & Kristie Miller (2015). On Metaphysical Analysis. In Jonathan Schaffer & Barry Loewer (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to David Lewis. Wiley Blackwell
    Metaphysics is largely an a priori business, albeit a business that is sensitive to the findings of the physical sciences. But sometimes what the physical sciences tell us about our own world underdetermines what we should think about the metaphysics of how things actually are, and even how they could be. This chapter has two aims. The first is to defend a particular conception of the methodology of a priori metaphysics by, in part, exemplifying that methodology and revealing its results. (...)
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  3. Roberto Casati (2009). Minor Entities : Surfaces, Holes, and Shadows. In Robin Le Poidevin (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Metaphysics. Routledge
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  4. Roberto Casati (2009). Surfaces, Holes, Shadows. In Robin Le Poidevin (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Metaphysics. Routledge 382--388.
    Minor entities provide an interesting testbed for metaphysical theories, but also for investigating the structure of concepts, as their concepts appear to be tributary of different representational systems.
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  5. Roberto Casati, Holes. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  6. Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi, Holes. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    A brief introduction to the main philosophical problems and theories about the nature of holes and such-like nothingnesses.
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  7. Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi (2007). Foreword to ''Lesser Kinds''. The Monist 90 (3):331-332.
    This issue of The Monist is devoted to the metaphysics of lesser kinds, which is to say those kinds of entity that are not generally recognized as occupying a prominent position in the categorial structure of the world. Why bother? We offer two sorts of reason. The first is methodological. In mathematics, it is common practice to study certain functions (for instance) by considering limit cases: What if x = 0? What if x is larger than any assigned value? Physics, (...)
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  8. Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi (2004). Counting the Holes. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 82 (1):23 – 27.
    Argle claimed that holes supervene on their material hosts, and that every truth about holes boils down to a truth about perforated things. This may well be right, assuming holes are perforations. But we still need an explicit theory of holes to do justice to the ordinary way of counting holes--or so says Cargle.
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  9. Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi (2004). Counting the Holes. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 82 (1):23 – 27.
    Argle claimed that holes supervene on their material hosts, and that every truth about holes boils down to a truth about perforated things. This may well be right, assuming holes are perforations. But we still need an explicit theory of holes to do justice to the ordinary way of counting holes--or so says Cargle.
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  10. Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi (2004). Counting the Holes. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 82 (1):23 – 27.
    Argle claimed that holes supervene on their material hosts, and that every truth about holes boils down to a truth about perforated things. This may well be right, assuming holes are perforations. But we still need an explicit theory of holes to do justice to the ordinary way of counting holes--or so says Cargle.
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  11. Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi (2000). Topological Essentialism. Philosophical Studies 100 (3):217-236.
    Considering topology as an extension of mereology, this paper analyses topological variants of mereological essentialism (the thesis that an object could not have different parts than the ones it has). In particular, we examine de dicto and de re versions of two theses: (i) that an object cannot change its external connections (e.g., adjacent objects cannot be separated), and (ii) that an object cannot change its topological genus (e.g., a doughnut cannot turn into a sphere). Stronger forms of structural essentialism, (...)
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  12. Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi (1997). Perché i buchi sono importanti. Problemi di rappresentazione spaziale. Sapere 63 (2):38–43.
    The methodological anarchy that characterizes much recent research in artificial intelligence and other cognitive sciences has brought into existence (sometimes resumed) a large variety of entities from a correspondingly large variety of (sometimes dubious) ontological categories. Recent work in spatial representation and reasoning is particularly indicative of this trend. Our aim in this paper is to suggest some ways of reconciling such a luxurious proliferation of entities with the sheer sobriety of good philosophy.
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  13. Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi (1994). Holes and Other Superficialities. MIT Press.
    Holes are a good example of the sort of entity that down-to-earth philosophers would be inclined to expel from their ontological inventory. In this work we argue instead in favor of their existence and explore the consequences of this liberality—odd as they might appear. We examine the ontology of holes, their geometry, their part-whole relations, their identity and their causal role, the ways we perceive them. We distinguish three basic kinds of holes: blind hollows, perforating tunnels, and internal cavities, treating (...)
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  14. Cody Gilmore (2013). Slots in Universals. Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 8:187-233.
    Slot theory is the view that (i) there exist such entities as argument places, or ‘slots’, in universals, and that (ii) a universal u is n-adic if and only if there are n slots in u. I argue that those who take properties and relations to be abundant, fine-grained, non-set-theoretical entities face pressure to be slot theorists. I note that slots permit a natural account of the notion of adicy. I then consider a series of ‘slot-free’ accounts of that notion (...)
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  15. Michael Hand (1990). Antirealism and Holes in the World. Philosophy 65 (252):218 - 224.
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  16. Daisuke Kachi (2011). The Power of Holes. Ontology Meeting: A Supplementary Volume for 2011, February Meeting:7-11.
    Firstly I define a hole as a dependent matter-less endurant, which is a little modification of Casati and Varzi’s definition. Adopting this definition, holes seem to invite three problems about causation: (1)causal closure, (2)ungrounded disposition and (3)causal overdetermination. I will defend my definition against all these problems by showing that holes are limiting cases of physical endurants rather than their opposition and that they have causal powers in a broad sense.
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  17. Woodhouse Lane (2012). Seeing Dark Things, by Roy Sorensen. New York, NY: OUP, 2008. Pp. Ix Roy Sorensen's Book, Seeing Dark Things, Begins with 'The Eclipse Riddle'. Suppose That One is Viewing In Between Oneself and the Sun Are Two Planets, One Smaller and Closer, Called. [REVIEW] Mind 121:483.
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  18. David Lewis & Stephanie Lewis (1996). Casati and Varzi on Holes. Philosophical Review 105:77-79.
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  19. David Lewis & Stephanie Lewis (1996). Review of Roberto Casati and Achille Varzi, o Les. [REVIEW] Philosophical Review 105 (1):77-79.
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  20. David Lewis & Stephanie Lewis (1970). Holes. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 48 (2):206 – 212.
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  21. Stephanie Lewis (1996). Holes and Other Superficialities. Philosophical Review 105 (1):77-79.
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  22. John Byron Manchak (2014). On Space-Time Singularities, Holes, and Extensions. Philosophy of Science 81 (5):1066-1076.
    Here, we clarify the relationship among three space-time conditions of interest: geodesic completeness, hole-freeness, and inextendibility. In addition, we introduce a related fourth condition: effective completeness.
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  23. Kris McDaniel (forthcoming). Compositional Pluralism and Composition as Identity. In Donald Baxter & Aaron Cotnoir (eds.), Composition as Identity. Oxford University Press
    Let’s start with compositional pluralism. Elsewhere I’ve defended compositional pluralism, which we can provisionally understand as the doctrine that there is more than one basic parthood relation. (You might wonder what I mean by “basic”. We’ll discuss this in a bit.) On the metaphysics I currently favor, there are regions of spacetime and material objects, each of which enjoy bear a distinct parthood relation to members of their own kind. Perhaps there are other kinds of objects that enjoy a kind (...)
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  24. Phillip John Meadows (2015). Holes Cannot Be Counted as Immaterial Objects. Erkenntnis 80 (4):841-852.
    In this paper I argue that the theory that holes are immaterial objects faces an objection that has traditionally been thought to be the principal difficulty with its main rival, which construes holes as material parts of material objects. Consequently, one of the principal advantages of identifying holes with immaterial objects is illusory: its apparent ease of accounting for truths about number of holes. I argue that in spite of this we should not think of holes as material parts of (...)
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  25. Phillip John Meadows (2013). What Angles Can Tell Us About What Holes Are Not. Erkenntnis 78 (2):319-331.
    In this paper I argue that holes are not objects, but should instead be construed as properties or relations. The argument proceeds by first establishing a claim about angles: that angles are not objects, but properties or relations. It is then argued that holes and angles belong to the same category, on the grounds that they share distinctive existence and identity conditions. This provides an argument in favour of categorizing holes as one categorizes angles. I then (...)
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  26. Kristie Miller (2007). Immaterial Beings. The Monist 90 (3):349-371.
    This paper defends a view that falls somewhere between the two extremes of inflationary and deflationary accounts, and it does so by rejecting the initial conceptualisation of holes in terms of absences. Once we move away from this conception, I argue, we can see that there are no special metaphysical problems associated with holes. Rather, whatever one’s preferred metaphysics of paradigm material objects, that account can equally be applied to holes. This means that like the deflationist, I am entity monist: (...)
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  27. Achille Varzi, Doughnuts.
    In classical topology the only part of a doughnut that matters is the edible part. Here I review some good reasons for reversing the order and focusing on the hole instead. By studying the topology of the hole one can learn interesting things about the morphology of the doughnut (its shape), and by studying the morphology of the hole in turn one can learn a lot about the doughnut’s dynamic properties (its patterns of interaction with the environment). The price--of course--is (...)
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  28. Achille C. Varzi (forthcoming). The Magic of Holes. In Pina Marsico & Luca Tateo (eds.), Ordinary Things and Their Extraordinary Meanings. Information Age Publishing
    There is no doughnut without a hole, the saying goes. And that’s true. If you think you can come up with an exception, it simply wouldn’t be a doughnut. Holeless doughnuts are like extensionless color, or durationless sound—nonsense. Does it follow, then, that when we buy a doughnut we really purchase two sorts of thing—the edible stuff plus the little chunk of void in the middle? Surely we cannot just take the doughnut and leave the hole at the grocery store, (...)
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  29. Achille C. Varzi (2003). Reasoning About Space: The Hole Story. Logic and Logical Philosophy 4:3-39.
    This is a revised and extended version of the formal theory of holes outlined in the Appendix to the book "Holes and Other Superficialities". The first part summarizes the basic framework (ontology, mereology, topology, morphology). The second part emphasizes its relevance to spatial reasoning and to the semantics of spatial prepositions in natural language. In particular, I discuss the semantics of ‘in’ and provide an account of such fallacious arguments as “There is a hole in the sheet. The sheet is (...)
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  30. Andrew Wake, Joshua Spencer & Gregory Fowler (2007). Holes as Regions of Spacetime. The Monist 90 (3):372-378.
    We discuss the view that a hole is identical to the region of spacetime at which it is located. This view is more parsimonious than the view that holes are sui generus entities located at those regions surrounded by their hosts and it is more plausible than the view that there are no holes. We defend the spacetime view from several objections.
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  31. Andrew Wake, Joshua Spencer & Gregory Fowler (2007). Holes as Regions of Spacetime. The Monist 90 (3):372-378.
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Reflections
  1. István Aranyosi, Through a Shadow, Darkly.
    The dictionary tells you that a shadow is a dark area or volume caused by an opaque object blocking some light. The definition is correct, but we need to clarify a couple of its elements: darkness and blocking. The clarification leads to the view that to see a shadow is a degree of failing to see a surface. I will also argue that seeing a silhouette (i.e. a backlit object) is a particular way of failing to see an object. Thus (...)
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  2. David M. Armstrong (1959). Mr Arthadeva and Naive Realism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 37 (May):67-70.
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  3. M. Arthadeva (1960). "Mirror Images" Are Physical Objects: A Reply to Mr. Armstrong. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 38 (2):160 – 162.
    The author thinks d m armstrong has correctly explicated his own earlier analysis but that his criticisms are unfounded. The position armstrong takes is actually analogous to the author's in terms of right-Left distortion in mirrors. The author concludes that armstrong should say what "people are doing if they are not perceiving" which would take him into the "quagmire of sense-Data theories." (staff).
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  4. M. Arthadeva (1957). Naive Realism and Illusions of Reflection. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 35 (3):155 – 169.
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  5. J. L. Austin (1964). Sense And Sensibilia; Reconstructed From The Manuscript Notes By G J Warnock. Oxford University Press.
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  6. N. J. Block (1974). Why Do Mirrors Reverse Right/Left but Not Up/Down. Journal of Philosophy 71 (9):259-277.
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  7. Damjan Bojadžiev (2004). Arithmetical and Specular Self-Reference. Acta Analytica 19 (33):55-63.
    Arithmetical self-reference through diagonalization is compared with self-recognition in a mirror, in a series of diagrams that show the structure and main stages of construction of self-referential sentences. A Gödel code is compared with a mirror, Gödel numbers with mirror images, numerical reference to arithmetical formulas with using a mirror to see things indirectly, self-reference with looking at one’s own image, and arithmetical provability of self-reference with recognition of the mirror image. The comparison turns arithmetical self-reference into an idealized model (...)
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  8. Clotilde Calabi (ed.) (2012). Perceptual Illusions: Philosophical and Psychological Essays.
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  9. Roberto Casati (2012). Towards a Synchretist Theory of Depiction (How to Account for the Illusionistic Aspect of Pictorial Mirrors, Illusions and Epistemic Innocence). In Clotilde Calabi (ed.), Perceptual Illusions: Philosophical and Psychological Essays.
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  10. Xiang Chen (2000). To See or Not to See: The Uses of Photometers and Measurements of Reflective Power. Perspectives on Science 8 (1):1-28.
    : Armed with a photometer originally designed for evaluating telescopes, Richard Potter in the early 1830s measured the re(integral)ective power of metallic and glass mirrors. Because he found significant discrepancies between his measurements and Fresnel's predictions, Potter developed doubts concerning the wave theory. However, Potter's measurements were colored by a peculiar procedure. In order to protect the sensitivity of the eye, Potter made certain approximations in the measuring process, which exaggerated the discrepancies between the theory and the data. Potter's measurements (...)
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