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Achille C. Varzi [168]Achille Carlo Varzi [1]
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Profile: Achille C. Varzi (Columbia University)
  1. Marion Haemmerli & Achille C. Varzi (2014). Adding Convexity to Mereotopology. In Pawel Garbacz & Oliver Kutz (eds.), Formal Ontology in Information Systems. Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference. IOS Press 65–78.
    Convexity predicates and the convex hull operator continue to play an important role in theories of spatial representation and reasoning, yet their first-order axiomatization is still a matter of controversy. In this paper, we present a new approach to adding convexity to mereotopological theory with boundary elements by specifying first-order axioms for a binary segment operator s. We show that our axioms yields a convex hull operator h that supports, not only the basic properties of convex regions, but also complex (...)
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  2. Achille C. Varzi (2014). Counting and Countenancing. In Aaron J. Cotnoir & Donald L. M. Baxter (eds.), Composition as Identity. Oxford University Press 47–69.
    I endorse Composition as Identity, broadly and loosely understood as the thesis that a composite whole is nothing over and above its parts, and the parts nothing over and above the whole. Thus, given an object, x, composed of n proper parts, y1, ..., yn, I feel the tension between my Quinean heart and its Lewisian counterpart. I feel the tension between my obligation to countenance n+1 things, x and the y’s, each of which is a distinct portion of reality, (...)
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  3.  62
    Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi (1999). Parts and Places. The Structures of Spatial Representation. The MIT Press.
    Thinking about space is thinking about spatial things. The table is on the carpet; hence the carpet is under the table. The vase is in the box; hence the box is not in the vase. But what does it mean for an object to be somewhere? How are objects tied to the space they occupy? This book is concerned with these and other fundamental issues in the philosophy of spatial representation. Our starting point is an analysis of the interplay between (...)
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  4.  61
    Achille C. Varzi (2002). On Logical Relativity. Philosophical Issues 12 (1):197-219.
    One logic or many? I say—many. Or rather, I say there is one logic for each way of specifying the class of all possible circumstances, or models, i.e., all ways of interpreting a given language. But because there is no unique way of doing this, I say there is no unique logic except in a relative sense. Indeed, given any two competing logical theories T1 and T2 (in the same language) one could always consider their common core, T, and settle (...)
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  5. Achille C. Varzi, Mereology. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    An overview of contemporary part-whole theories, with reference to both their axiomatic developments and their philosophical underpinnings.
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  6. Achille C. Varzi (1996). Parts, Wholes, and Part-Whole Relations: The Prospects of Mereotopology. Data and Knowledge Engineering 20:259–286.
    We can see mereology as a theory of parthood and topology as a theory of wholeness. How can these be combined to obtain a unified theory of parts and wholes? This paper examines various non-equivalent ways of pursuing this task, with specific reference to its relevance to spatio-temporal reasoning. In particular, three main strategies are compared: (i) mereology and topology as two independent (though mutually related) chapters; (ii) mereology as a general theory subsuming topology; (iii) topology as a general theory (...)
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  7. Philip Kitcher & Achille C. Varzi (2000). Some Pictures Are Worth 2Aleph0 Sentences. Philosophy 75 (3):377-381.
    According to the cliché a picture is worth a thousand words. But this is a canard, for it vastly underestimates the expressive power of many pictures and diagrams. In this note we show that even a simple map such as the outline of Manhattan Island, accompanied by a pointer marking North, implies a vast infinity of statements—including a vast infinity of true statements.
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  8.  86
    Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi (2008). Voti e altri buchi elettorali. Rivista di Estetica 48 (37):169-194.
    A philosophical dialogue on the functioning, the limits, and the paradoxes of our electoral practices, dealing with such basic questions as: What is a vote? How do we count votes? And do votes really count?
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  9. Achille C. Varzi (2007). Supervaluationism and Its Logics. Mind 116 (463):633-675.
    What sort of logic do we get if we adopt a supervaluational semantics for vagueness? As it turns out, the answer depends crucially on how the standard notion of validity as truth preservation is recasted. There are several ways of doing that within a supervaluational framework, the main alternative being between “global” construals (e.g., an argument is valid iff it preserves truth-under-all-precisifications) and “local” construals (an argument is valid iff, under all precisifications, it preserves truth). The former alternative is by (...)
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  10. Barry Smith & Achille C. Varzi (1997). Fiat and Bona Fide Boundaries: Towards an Ontology of Spatially Extended Objects. In Spatial Information Theory. International Conference COSIT ‘97. Springer 103–119.
    Human cognitive acts are directed towards objects extended in space of a wide range of different types. What follows is a new proposal for bringing order into this typological clutter. The theory of spatially extended objects should make room not only for the objects of physics but also for objects at higher levels, including the objects of geography and of related disciplines. It should leave room for different types of boundaries, including both the bona fide boundaries which we find in (...)
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  11. Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi, Events. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    A critical survey of the main philosophical theories about events and event talk, organized in three main sections: (i) Events and Other Categories (Events vs. Objects; Events vs. Facts; Events vs. Properties; Events vs. Times); (ii) Types of Events (Activities, Accomplishments, Achievements, and States; Static and Dynamic Events; Actions and Bodily Movements; Mental and Physical Events; Negative Events); (iii) Existence, Identity, and Indeterminacy.
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  12. Achille C. Varzi (2009). Universalism entails Extensionalism. Analysis 69 (4):599-604.
    I argue that Universalism (the thesis that mereological composition is unrestricted) entails Extensionalism (the thesis that sameness of composition is sufficient for identity) as long as the parthood relation is transitive and satisfies the Weak Supplementation principle (to the effect that whenever a thing has a proper part, it has another part disjoint from the first).
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  13.  51
    Achille C. Varzi (2003). Perdurantism, Universalism, and Quantifiers. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (2):208-215.
    I argue that the conjunction of perdurantism (the view that objects are temporally extended) and universalism (the thesis that any old class of things has a mereological fusion) gives rise to undesired complications when combined with certain plausible assumptions concerning the semantics of tensed statements.
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  14. Achille C. Varzi (2008). The Extensionality of Parthood and Composition. Philosophical Quarterly 58 (1):108–133.
    I focus on three mereological principles: the Extensionality of Parthood (EP), the Uniqueness of Composition (UC), and the Extensionality of Composition (EC). These principles are not equivalent. Nonetheless, they are closely related (and often equated) as they all reflect the basic nominalistic dictum, No difference without a difference maker. And each one of them—individually or collectively—has been challenged on philosophical grounds. In the first part I argue that such challenges do not quite threaten EP insofar as they are either self-defeating (...)
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  15. Barry Smith & Achille C. Varzi (2000). Fiat and Bona Fide Boundaries. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 60 (2):401-420.
    There is a basic distinction, in the realm of spatial boundaries, between bona fide boundaries on the one hand, and fiat boundaries on the other. The former are just the physical boundaries of old. The latter are exemplified especially by boundaries induced through human demarcation, for example in the geographic domain. The classical problems connected with the notions of adjacency, contact, separation and division can be resolved in an intuitive way by recognizing this two-sorted ontology of boundaries. Bona fide boundaries (...)
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  16.  74
    Achille C. Varzi (2014). Formal Theories of Parthood. In Claudio Calosi & Pierluigi Graziani (eds.), Mereology and the Sciences: Parts and Wholes in the Contemporary Scientific Context. Springer-Verlag 359–370.
    A compact overview of the main formal theories of parthood and of their mutual relationships, up to Classical Extensional Mereology. Written as an Appendix to the other essays included in the volume.
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  17.  71
    Claudio Calosi & Achille C. Varzi (2016). Back to Black. Ratio 29 (1):1-10.
    This is a brief sequel to Max Black 's classic dialogue on the Identity of Indiscernibles. Interlocutor A defends the bundle theory by endorsing the view according to which Black 's world does not contain two indiscernible spheres but rather a single, bi-located sphere. His opponent, B, objects that A cannot distinguish such a world from a world with a single, uniquely located sphere, hence that the view in question adds nothing to A's original response to Black 's challenge. A (...)
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  18.  34
    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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  19. Achille C. Varzi (2014). Logic, Ontological Neutrality, and the Law of Non-Contradiction. In Elena Ficara (ed.), Contradictions. Logic, History, Actuality. De Gruyter 53–80.
    Abstract. As a general theory of reasoning—and as a general theory of what holds true under every possible circumstance—logic is supposed to be ontologically neutral. It ought to have nothing to do with questions concerning what there is, or whether there is anything at all. It is for this reason that traditional Aristotelian logic, with its tacit existential presuppositions, was eventually deemed inadequate as a canon of pure logic. And it is for this reason that modern quantification theory, too, with (...)
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  20.  27
    Hsing-Chien Tsai & Achille C. Varzi (2016). Atoms, Gunk, and the Limits of ‘Composition’. Erkenntnis 81 (2):231-235.
    It is customary practice to define ‘x is composed of the ys’ as ‘x is a sum of the ys and the ys are pairwise disjoint ’. This predicate has played a central role in the debate on the special composition question and on related metaphysical issues concerning the mereological structure of objects. In this note we show that the customary characterization is nonetheless inadequate. We do so by constructing a mereological model where everything qualifies as composed of atoms even (...)
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  21. Achille C. Varzi (2007). Promiscuous Endurantism and Diachronic Vagueness. American Philosophical Quarterly 44 (2):181-189.
    According to a popular line of reasoning, diachronic vagueness creates a problem for the endurantist conception of persistence. Some authors have replied that this line of reasoning is inconclusive, since the endurantist can subscribe to a principle of Diachronic Unrestricted Composition (DUC) that is perfectly parallel to the principle required by the perdurantist’s semantic account. I object that the endurantist should better avoid DUC. And I argue that even DUC, if accepted, would fail to provide the endurantist with the necessary (...)
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  22.  54
    Achille C. Varzi (2014). Because. In Anne Reboul (ed.), Mind, Values, and Metaphysics. Philosophical Essays in Honor of Kevin Mulligan, Volume 1. Springer-Verlag 253–256.
    There is a natural philosophical impulse (and, correspondingly, a great deal of pressure) to always ask for explanations, for example, explanations of why we act as we do. Kevin Mulligan has gone a very long way in disentangling the many different because’s, and the many senses of ‘because’, that tend to clutter our efforts to manage that impulse. This short dialogue is meant as a humble tribute to his work in this area.
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  23.  57
    Achille C. Varzi (2013). Livelli di realtà e descrizioni del mondo. Giornale di Metafisica 35 (2/3):387–404.
    I articulate and the defend the following two claims: (i) it is a mistake to think that the structure of the world should mirror the structure of the theories by which we represent it, and through which we try to decipher it, simply because those theories appear to work; (ii) among the most deplorable consequences of this mistake is the widespread tendency to think that there must be a plurality of realities, or several different and irreducible levels of a stratified (...)
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  24. 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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  25.  47
    Achille C. Varzi (2005). Change, Temporal Parts, and the Argument From Vagueness. Dialectica 59 (4):485–498.
    The so-called "argument from vagueness", the clearest formulation of which is to be found in Ted Sider’s book Four-dimensionalism, is arguably the most powerful and innovative argument recently offered in support of the view that objects are four-dimensional perdurants. The argument is defective--I submit--and in a number of ways that is worth looking into. But each "defect" corresponds to a model of change that is independently problematic and that can hardly be built into the common-sense picture of the world. So (...)
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  26.  58
    Elena Casetta & Achille C. Varzi (2008). Nomi in crisi di identità. Rivista di Estetica 48 (38):143-156.
    An exchange of letters among proper names and natural-kind terms, dealing with various identity and individuation problems (rigid designation, use-mention ambiguities, translation) from their point of view.
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  27. Achille C. Varzi (2013). Undetached Parts and Disconnected Wholes. In Christer Svennerlind, Jan Almäng & Rögnvaldur Ingthorsson (eds.), Johanssonian Investigations. Essays in Honour of Ingvar Johansson on His Seventieth Birthday. Ontos Verlag 696–708.
    I offer a diagnosis of the parallelism between the Doctrine of Potential Parts and the Doctrine of Potential Wholes and briefly examine its bearing on Johansson’s account of the Tibbles-Tib Problem.
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  28. Achille C. Varzi (2003). Vagueness. In Lynn Nadel (ed.), Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science, Vol. 4. Nature Publishing Group 459–464.
    This is an encyclopedia entry on vagueness, focusing mainly on the opposition between re re and de dicta (linguistic or cognitive) accounts.
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  29. Achille C. Varzi (2006). A Note on the Transitivity of Parthood. Applied Ontology 1 (2):141-146.
    That parthood is a transitive relation is among the most basic principles of classical mereology. Alas, it is also very controversial. In a recent paper, Ingvar Johansson has put forward a novel diagnosis of the problem, along with a corresponding solution. The diagnosis is on the right track, I argue, but the solution is misleading. And once the pieces are properly put together, we end up with a reinforcement of the standard defense of transitivity on behalf of classical mereology.
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  30. Fabio Pianesi & Achille C. Varzi (2000). Events and Event Talk: An Introduction. In James Higginbotham, Fabio Pianesi & Achille C. Varzi (eds.), Speaking of Events. Oxford University Press 3–47.
    A critical review of the main themes arising out of recent literature on the semantics of ordinary event talk. The material is organized in four sections: (i) the nature of events, with emphasis on the opposition between events as particulars and events as universals; (ii) identity and indeterminacy, with emphasis on the unifier/multiplier controversy; (iii) events and logical form, with emphasis on Davidson’s treatment of the form of action sentences; (iv) linguistic applications, with emphasis on issues concerning aspectual phenomena, the (...)
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  31. Achille C. Varzi (2007). Omissions and Causal Explanations. In Francesca Castellani & Josef Quitterer (eds.), Agency and Causation in the Human Sciences. Mentis Verlag 155–167.
    In previous work I have argued that talk about negative events should not be taken at face value: typically, what we are inclined to think of as a negative event (John’s failure to go jogging) is just an ordinary, positive event (his going to the movie instead); it is a positive event under a negative description. Here I consider more closely the difficulties that arise in those cases where no positive event seems available to do the job, as with putative (...)
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  32. Achille C. Varzi (2011). On Doing Ontology Without Metaphysics. Philosophical Perspectives 25 (1):407-423.
    According to a certain familiar way of dividing up the business of philosophy, ontology is concerned with the question of what entities exist (a task that is often identified with that of drafting a “complete inventory” of the universe) whereas metaphysics seeks to explain, of those entities, what they are (i.e., to specify the “ultimate nature” of the items included in the inventory). This distinction carries with it a natural thought, namely, that ontology is in some way prior to metaphysics. (...)
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  33. Barry Smith & Achille C. Varzi (1999). The Niche. Noûs 33 (2):214-238.
    The concept of niche (setting, context, habitat, environment) has been little studied by ontologists, in spite of its wide application in a variety of disciplines from evolutionary biology to economics. What follows is a first formal theory of this concept, a theory of the relations between objects and their niches. The theory builds upon existing work on mereology, topology, and the theory of spatial location as tools of formal ontology. It will be illustrated above all by means of simple biological (...)
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  34.  67
    Achille C. Varzi, Boundary. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    We think of a boundary whenever we think of an entity demarcated from its surroundings. There is a boundary (a line) separating Maryland and Pennsylvania. There is a boundary (a circle) isolating the interior of a disc from its exterior. There is a boundary (a surface) enclosing the bulk of this apple. Sometimes the exact location of a boundary is unclear or otherwise controversial (as when you try to trace out the margins of Mount Everest, or even the boundary of (...)
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  35. Achille C. Varzi (2012). The Naming of Facts. Analysis 72 (2):322-323.
    The naming of facts is a difficult matter / it isn’t just one of your holiday games..." A versification of a disturbing philosophical tribulation, after T. S. Eliot’s ‘The Naming of Cats’.
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  36.  42
    Achille C. Varzi (2014). Realism in the Desert. In Massimo Dell’Utri, Fabio Bacchini & Stefano Caputo (eds.), Realism and Ontology without Myths. Cambridge Scholars Publishing 16–31.
    Quine’s desert is generally contrasted with Meinong’s jungle, as a sober ontological alternative to the exuberant luxuriance that comes with the latter. Here I focus instead on the desert as a sober metaphysical alternative to the Aristotelian garden, with its tidily organized varieties of flora and fauna neatly governed by fundamental laws that reflect the essence of things and the way they can be, or the way they must be. In the desert there are no “natural joints”; all the boundaries (...)
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  37.  28
    Achille C. Varzi (1998). Deviant Logic, Fuzzy Logic: Beyond the Formalism. [REVIEW] Philosophical Review 107 (3):468-471.
  38.  35
    Achille C. Varzi (2003). Naming the Stages. Dialectica 57 (4):387–412.
    Standard lore has it that a proper name is a temporally rigid designator. It picks out the same entity at every time at which it picks out an entity at all. If the entity in question is an enduring continuant then we know what this means, though we are also stuck with a host of metaphysical puzzles concerning endurance itself. If the entity in question is a perdurant then the rigidity claim is trivial, though one is left wondering how it (...)
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  39.  42
    Achille C. Varzi (2000). Foreword to ''Temporal Parts''. The Monist 83 (3):319-320.
    A brief introductory note to the Monist issue on "Temporal Parts", setting the background for the eight papers included in the rest of the issue (by Y. Balashov, B. Brogaard, K. Fine, M. Heller, R. LePoidevin, J. Parsons, P. M. Simons, and P. van Inwagen).
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  40.  89
    Achille C. Varzi (1997). Boundaries, Continuity, and Contact. Noûs 31 (1):26-58.
    There are conflicting intuitions concerning the status of a boundary separating two adjacent entities (or two parts of the same entity). The boundary cannot belong to both things, for adjacency excludes overlap; and it cannot belong to neither, for nothing lies between two adjacent things. Yet how can the dilemma be avoided without assigning the boundary to one thing or the other at random? Some philosophers regard this as a reductio of the very notion of a boundary, which should accordingly (...)
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  41. Achille C. Varzi (2009). On the Interplay Between Logic and Metaphysics. Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations 8:13-36.
    On the one hand, logic has (or ought to have) nothing to do with metaphysics; it ought to have nothing to do with questions concerning what there is, or whether there is anything at all. On the other hand, metaphysics can hardly get off the ground without the help of logical analysis; to be is to be a truth-maker, and the search for truth-makers requires that we lay open the logical structure of our language. So something’s gotta give: either logical (...)
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  42.  56
    Achille C. Varzi (2000). Mereological Commitments. Dialectica 54 (4):283–305.
    We tend to talk about (refer to, quantify over) parts in the same way in which we talk about whole objects. Yet a part is not something to be included in an inventory of the world over and above the whole to which it belongs, and a whole is not something to be included in the inventory over and above its constituent parts. This paper is an attempt to clarify a way of dealing with this tension which may be labeled (...)
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  43.  34
    Achille C. Varzi (2014). Del fuoco che non brucia: risposte, riflessioni, ringraziamenti. In Elena Casetta & Valeria Giardino (eds.), Mettere a Fuoco Il Mondo. Conversazioni sulla Filosofia di Achille Varzi (Special Issue of Isonomia – Epistemologica). University of Urbino 111–153.
    An overview of the way I picture the amorphous world we live in, built around my comments and responses to nine festschrift essays by A. Borghini (on the Fedro metaphor and the art of butchery), F. Calemi (on the predication principle and metalinguistic nominalism), C. Calosi (on the argument from mereological universalism to extensonality), E. Casetta (on the role of “monsters” in the realism/antirealism debate), V. Giardino (on inductive reasoning, spatial representation, and problem solving), P. Graziani (on mereological notation), P. (...)
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  44. Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi (2008). Event Concepts. In Thomas F. Shipley & Jeff Zacks (eds.), Understanding Events: From Perception to Action. Oxford University Press 31�54.
    Events are center stage in several fields of psychological research. There is a long tradition in the study of event perception, event recognition, event memory, event conceptualization and segmentation. There are studies devoted to the description of events in language and to their representation in the brain. There are also metapsychological studies aimed at assessing the nature of mental events or the grounding of intentional action. Outside psychology, the notion of an event plays a prominent role in various areas of (...)
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  45.  35
    Maurizio Ferraris & Achille C. Varzi (2013). Hylas e Philonous dieci anni dopo. SpazioFilosofico 8 (2):219–227.
    This is a sequel to our dialogue "Che cosa c'è e che cos'è (2003), focusing on the interplay between what there is and what there could be—between actuality and possibility—from the perspective of Hylas (here: the realist philosopher) and from the perspective of Philonous (here: the conventionalist anti-realist).
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  46. Achille C. Varzi (2011). Boundaries, Conventions, and Realism. In Michael O'Rourke, Joseph K. Campbell & Matthew H. Slater (eds.), Carving Nature at Its Joints: Natural Kinds in Metaphysics and Science. MIT Press 129–153.
    Are there any bona fide boundaries, i.e., boundaries that carve at the joints? Or is any boundary —hence any object—the result of a fiat articulation reflecting our cognitive biases and our so-cial practices and conventions? Does the choice between these two options amount to a choice between realism and wholesome relativism?
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  47.  35
    Barry Smith & Achille C. Varzi (2000). Nisza. Filozofia Nauki 3 (3-4):5–30.
    The concept of niche (setting, context, habitat, environment) has been little studied by ontologists, in spite of its wide application in a variety of disciplines from evolutionary biology to economics. What follows is a first formal theory of this concept, a theory of the relations between objects and their niches. The theory builds upon existing work on mereology, topology, and the theory of spatial location as tools of formal ontology. It is illustrated above all by means of simple biological examples, (...)
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  48.  50
    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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  49.  56
    Anthony G. Cohn & Achille C. Varzi (2003). Mereotopological Connection. Journal of Philosophical Logic 32 (4):357-390.
    The paper outlines a model-theoretic framework for investigating and comparing a variety of mereotopological theories. In the first part we consider different ways of characterizing a mereotopology with respect to (i) the intended interpretation of the connection primitive, and (ii) the composition of the admissible domains of quantification (e.g., whether or not they include boundary elements). The second part extends this study by considering two further dimensions along which different patterns of topological connection can be classified - the strength of (...)
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  50.  74
    Achille C. Varzi (2006). The Universe Among Other Things. Ratio 19 (1):107–120.
    Peter Simons has argued that the expression ‘the universe’ is not a genuine singular term: it can name neither a single, completely encompassing individual, nor a collection of individuals. (It is, rather, a semantically plural term standing equally for every existing object.) I offer reasons for resisting Simons’s arguments on both scores.
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