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Profile: Achille Varzi (Columbia University)
  1. Roberto Casati, Maurizio Ferraris & Achille C. Varzi, Il Paradigma Dell'oggetto.
    Sarà capitato anche a voi, in treno, di cercare di aprire la porta tra un vagone e l’altro con l’espressivissima maniglia e, solo dopo non esserci riusciti, di aver notato il meno eloquente pulsante sulla destra. Il fenomeno non è troppo diverso da quando, non avendo capito qualcosa, chiediamo di farci un esempio. La convinzione —falsa—che parlare possa essere surrogato dall’indicare degli oggetti nasconde l’idea –vera– che gli oggetti parlino, e che alcuni parlino meglio di altri. Per capirlo, non c’è (...)
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  2. Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi, Perché I Buchi Sono Importanti: Problemi di Rappresentazione Spaziale.
    Le relazioni spaziali tra gli oggetti che ci circondano nel nostro microcosmo quotidiano o nel macroambiente delle posizioni geografiche e le proprietà spaziali di tali oggetti, come forma e dimensione, sono un soggetto di ricerca privilegiato per quei settori delle scienze cognitive che mirano a rappresentare fedelmente le competenze degli agenti umani. Gran parte del nostro comportamento è descrivibile in termini spaziali: pianifi- chiamo azioni, cerchiamo di eseguirle secondo i nostri piani (eventualmente superando ostacoli imprevisti), ne controlliamo lo svolgimento attraverso (...)
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  3. Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi, Spatial Entities.
    Common-sense reasoning about space is, first and foremost, reasoning about things located in space. The fly is inside the glass; hence the glass is not inside the fly. The book is on the table; hence the table is under the book. Sometimes we may be talking about things going on in certain places: the concert took place in the garden; then dinner was served in the solarium. Even when we talk about “naked” (empty) regions of space—regions that are not occupied (...)
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  4. Maurizio Ferraris & Achille C. Varzi, Che Cosa C'è E Che Cos'è. Un Dialogo.
    Hylas. «Veramente, la distruzion de’ frulloni e delle madie, la devastazion de’ forni, e lo scompiglio de’ fornai, non sono i mezzi più spicci per far vivere il pane; ma questa è una di quelle sottigliezze metafisiche, che una moltitudine non ci arriva.» Devo dire che il fastidio di Manzoni verso le metafisiche inconcludenti mi sembra sacrosanto. Ma soprattutto mi sembra sacrosanto il suo richiamo al buon senso, quando aggiunge che «senza essere un gran metafisico, un uomo ci arriva talvolta (...)
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  5. Francesco Orilia & Achille C. Varzi, Truth and Circular Definitions.
    This original and enticing book provides a fresh, unifying perspective on many old and new logico-philosophical conundrums. Its basic thesis is that many concepts central in ordinary and philosophical discourse are inherently circular and thus cannot be fully understood as long as one remains within the confines of a standard theory of definitions. As an alternative, the authors develop a revision theory of definitions, which allows definitions to be circular without this giving rise to contradiction (but, at worst, to “vacuous” (...)
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  6. Fabio Pianesi & Achille C. Varzi, The Context-Dependency of Temporal Reference in Event Semantics.
    Temporal reference in natural language is inherently context dependent: what counts as a moment in one context may be structurally analysed in another context, and vice versa. In this note we outline a way of accounting for this phenomenon within event-based semantics.
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  7. Matthew H. Slater & Achille C. Varzi, Playing for the Same Team Again.
    The following is a transcript of what might very well have been five telephone conversa- tions between Michael Jordan and former Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson in early March 1995, just before the announcement of MJ’s comeback after a year spent pursu- ing a baseball career.
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  8. Achille C. Varzi, Asimmetrie: Il Disordine Mondiale.
    Viviamo in un mondo tutt’altro che simmetrico. Luca ama Lara, ma lei lo detesta. I ricchi sfruttano i poveri e i belli deridono i brutti, mai viceversa. Chi parla non ascolta, chi ascolta non parla. Anche l’economia è asimmetrica: raramente gli agenti di mercato condividono le medesime informazioni sui beni di scambio, e mentre il venditore tende a tacere la vera natura dei propri prodotti (mai provato a comprare un’auto usata?) il compratore che fiuta l’affare non è da meno (direste (...)
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  9. Achille C. Varzi, Counting and Countenancing.
    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, y 1 , … , y n , 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 i (...)
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  10. Achille C. Varzi, Cover to Cover.
    Baba. In a way, though he didn’t credit the music to Rachmaninov, at least not initially. The original album jacket says “Words and Music by Eric Carmen”. Ali. So he committed plagiarism. I suppose that came out later, which is why Celine Dion was more careful? That’s bad. I mean, it’s bad that people steal music from the classics. Just because they’re dead? I am sure Eric Carmen would have been very upset if Celine Dion had not acknowledged her credit (...)
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  11. Achille C. Varzi, Events, Truth, and Indeterminacy.
    Some statements owe their truth (or falsity) to the way things are; others seem to owe their truth (or falsity) to the way things go. The statement (1) Lou’s hat is lovely will be true or false according to whether Lou’s hat (an object) is lovely or not. The statement (2) Lou’s lecture is boring will be true or false according to whether Lou’s lecture (an event) is boring or not. Davidson (1967) and many others have argued that this distinction (...)
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  12. Achille C. Varzi, Filosofia Italiana: Cosa C'è di Nuovo?
    Il filosofo britannico Alfred North Whitehead—autore, insieme a Bertrand Russell, di quei Principia Matematica da cui è scaturita gran parte della logica del ventesimo secolo—una volta scrisse che l’intera tradizione filosofica europea potrebbe essere letta come una lunga serie di note in calce alle opere di Platone. Tra i filosofi europei vi è poi chi ha affermato che tutta l’opera di Platone potrebbe leggersi come una serie di note in calce ad Anassimandro. Quindi, per l’irresistibile transitività delle note alle note, (...)
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  13. Achille C. Varzi, I Trabocchetti Della Rappresentazione Spaziale.
    Molti sistemi cognitivi, tra cui anche alcuni agenti artificiali, devono rappresentare lo spazio e gli oggetti spaziali per muoversi e agire in modo soddisfacente (per evitare un ostacolo, cogliere un frutto, decidere un punto dove atterrare). Nel caso degli esseri umani, la rappresentazione dello spazio ha anche un aspetto linguistico: sappiamo descrivere le relazioni spaziali o comprendere il significato di una preposizione come ‘tra’ immaginando una situazione spaziale cui essa si applichi. La rappresentazione dello spazio è pertanto un soggetto di (...)
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  14. Achille C. Varzi, Kripke: Modalità E Verità.
    La prima fase della carriera filosofica di Saul Kripke è legata principalmente, se non esclusivamente, ai suoi contributi in ambito logico. Si tratta di contributi che hanno avuto un impatto enorme soprattutto in due capitoli centrali di questa disciplina, la logica modale e la teoria formale della verità, con conseguenze e ramificazioni che hanno interessato un po’ tutta la filosofia analitica contemporanea. In questo capitolo cerchiamo di ricostruirne i tratti principali e di evidenziare la loro portata con particolare riferimento alla (...)
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  15. Achille C. Varzi, Ontologia E Metafisica.
    Il rapporto dei filosofi analitici con la metafisica è stato per lungo tempo difficile e conflittuale. In un certo senso, il movimento analitico venne inizialmente caratterizzandosi proprio in contrapposizione alla tradizione filosofica dominante dell’Ottocento, tutta assorta nell’impresa di rispondere a Kant attraverso rielaborazioni più o meno dogmatiche dell’idealismo critico. In una Cambridge in cui Bradley e McTaggart dominavano incontrastati, Moore non esitava ad accusare di miopia le teorie metafisiche «che pretendono di fornire un’agevole strada per superare le difficoltà che ostacolano (...)
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  16. Achille C. Varzi, RedPill®.
    Morpheus lascia che sia Neo a decidere. Se ingerisce la pillola azzurra, la sua percezione del mondo non cambierà e la vita di Neo continuerà come sempre. Se ingerisce la pillola rossa, il mondo gli si manifesterà quale esso realmente è: una realtà che va ben al di là di quanto Neo possa anche solo lontanamente immaginare. «Pillola azzurra: fine della storia; pillola rossa: resti nel Paese delle Meraviglie e vedrai quanto è profonda la tana del bian- coniglio.» Neo fa (...)
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  17. Achille C. Varzi, Riferimento, Predicazione, E Cambiamento.
    Una buona teoria semantica deve rendere conto del fatto che generalmente il significato di un’espressione complessa dipende dal significato delle parti. In particolare, il valore di verità di un enunciato composto dipende normalmente dal valore di verità degli enunciati che lo compongono e quindi, in ultima istanza, dal valore di verità di enunciati elementari, o «atomici». Tra questi il caso paradigmatico è costituito dagli enunciati in forma soggetto-predicato: (1) xèP, e, fortunatamente, le condizioni di verità di enunciati del genere appaiono (...)
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  18. Achille C. Varzi, The Magic of Holes.
    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 (...)
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  19. Achille C. Varzi, Undetached Parts and Disconnected Wholes.
    The Doctrine of Potential Parts (DPP) says that undetached parts, i.e., proper parts that are connected to other parts of the same whole, are not actual entities. They are merely potential entities, entities that do not exist but would exist if they were detached from the rest. They are just aspects of the whole to which they belong, ways in which the whole could be broken down, and talk of such parts is really just talk about the modal properties of (...)
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  20. Achille C. Varzi, Vaghezza E Ontologia.
    La vaghezza è un fenomeno pervasivo del pensiero e del linguaggio ordinario. Abbiamo una buona idea di che cosa significhi dire che una persona è calva, alta, o ricca, ma a volte ci troviamo spiazzati. Alcuni uomini sono chiaramente calvi (Picasso), altri non lo sono (il conte di Montecristo), e altri ancora sono casi intermedi (Bertinotti): non c’è un numero esatto di capelli che segni il confine tra i calvi e i non-calvi. Allo stesso modo, è ridicolo supporre che vi (...)
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  21. Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi, Event Concepts.
    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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  22. Achille C. Varzi, On the Boundary Between Material and Formal Ontology.
    There are two main ways, philosophically, of characterizing the business of ontology, and it is good practice to try and keep them separate. On one account, made popular by Quine, ontology is concerned with the question of what there is. Since to say that there are things that are not would be selfcontradictory, Quine famously pronounced that such a question can be answered in a single word—‘Everything’. However, to say ‘Everything’ is to say nothing. It is merely to say that (...)
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  23. Achille C. Varzi (2014). Musil's Imaginary Bridge. The Monist 97 (1):30-46.
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  24. Achille C. Varzi (2011). Boundaries, Conventions, and Realism. In Michael O'Rourke, Joseph Keim Campbell & Matthew H. Slater (eds.), Carving Nature at its Joints. Mit Press. 8.
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  25. 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, made popular by Quine, ontology is concerned with the question of what there is (a task that is often identified with that of drafting a “complete inventory” of the universe) whereas metaphysics is concerned with the question of what it is (i.e., with the task of specifying the “ultimate nature” of the items included in the inventory).1 For instance, a thesis to the effect that there are such (...)
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  26. Achille C. Varzi (2011). The Plan of a Square. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (5):137-144.
    Amidst many discussions on super-valuational algebras and their philosophical applications — on which I was writing my dissertation — Hans and I once paused to ponder the mystical experience of the square. I mean A Square, the hero of Flatland. I mean that perfectly two-dimensional being, with no depth whatsoever, citizen of an equally two-dimensional depthless world, who one day had the good fortune of receiving a visit from a Sphere. What's more, he had the fortune of being able to (...)
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  27. Achille C. Varzi (2010). Il Mondo Messo a Fuoco: Storie di Allucinazioni E Miopie Filosofiche. Laterza.
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  28. Achille C. Varzi (2009). On the Interplay Between Logic and Metaphysics. Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations 8:12-35.
  29. Achille C. Varzi (2009). Universalism entails Extensionalism. Analysis 69 (4):599 - 604.
    1. Universalism (also known as Conjunctivism, or Collectivism) is the thesis that mereological composition is unrestricted. More precisely: (U) Any non-empty collection of things has a fusion, i.e., something that has all those things as parts and has no part that is disjoint from each of them.1 Extensionalism is the thesis that sameness of composition is sufficient for identity. More precisely: (E) No two things have exactly the same proper parts (unless they are atomic, i.e., have no proper parts at (...)
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  30. Achille C. Varzi & Armando Massarenti (eds.) (2009). Stramaledettamente Logico: Esercizi di Filosofia Su Pellicola. Laterza.
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  31. Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi (2008). Voti E Altri Buchi Elettorali. Che Cos'è Un Voto? Come Si Contano I Voti? Ei Voti Contano Davvero? Rivista di Estetica 48 (37):169-194.
     
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  32. Elena Casetta & Achille C. Varzi (2008). Nomi in crisi di identità. Rivista di Estetica 48 (38):143-156.
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  33. William Seager, Jamie Tappenden & Achille C. Varzi (eds.) (2008/2011). Truth and Values: Essays for Hans Herzberger. University of Calgary Press.
     
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  34. Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi (2007). Foreword. 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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  35. Matthew H. Slater & Achille C. Varzi (2007). Playing for the Same Team. In Bassham & Walls (eds.), Basketball and Philosophy. University of Kentucky Press.
    The following is a transcript of what might very well have been five telephone conversations between Michael Jordan and former Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson. The conversations took place in early March 1995, just before the announcement of MJ’s comeback after a year spent pursuing baseball.
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  36. Andrea Borghini & Achille C. Varzi (2006). Event Location and Vagueness. Philosophical Studies 128 (2):313 - 336.
    Most event-referring expressions are vague it is utterly difficult, if not impossible, to specify the exact spatiotemporal location of an event from the words that we use to refer to it. We argue that in spite of certain prima facie obstacles, such vagueness can be given a purely semantic (broadly supervaluational) account.
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  37. Wolfgang Mann & Achille C. Varzi (2006). Foreword. Journal of Philosophy 103 (12):593-596.
    Part-whole theories, or mereologies (from the Greek word µ ρος, meaning: “share”, “portion”, or “part”), form a central chapter of metaphysics throughout its history. Their roots can be traced back to the earliest days of philosophy, beginning with the Pre-Socratics. It is plausible to hold that Parmenides argues that there can be no parts, thus everything there is is one whole; and Zeno argues for his striking paradoxes on the assumption that there are parts (whether spatial or temporal ones). Democritus (...)
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  38. Achille C. Varzi (2006). From an Ontological Point of View. Philosophical Books 47 (2):148-154.
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  39. Achille C. Varzi (2006). Conjunction and Contradiction. In Graham Priest, J. C. Beall & Bradley Armour-Garb (eds.), The Law of Non-Contradiction: New Philosophical Essays. Clarendon Press.
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  40. Achille C. Varzi (2006). Strict Identity with No Overlap. Studia Logica 82 (3):371 - 378.
    It is common lore that standard, Kripke-style semantics for quantified modal logic is incompatible with the view that no individual may belong to more than one possible world, a view that seems to require a counterpart-theoretic semantics instead. Strictly speaking, however, this thought is wrong-headed. This note explains why.
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  41. 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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  42. Achille C. Varzi (2006). What is to Be Done? Topoi 25 (1-2):129-131.
    If the question is: what is to be done for philosophy?, then it calls for a political answer and I have little to say besides the obvious. If the question is: what is to be done in philosophy?, then I’m stuck. Drawing up a list of to-do’s and not-to-do’s would not, I think, be a good way to honor the general conception of philosophy that inspired Topoi throughout these years, and that I deeply share.
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  43. Achille C. Varzi & Giuliano Torrengo (2006). Crimes and Punishments. Philosophia 34 (4):395-404.
    Every criminal act ought to be matched by a corresponding punishment, or so we may suppose, and every punishment ought to reflect a criminal act. We know how to count punishments. But how do we count crimes? In particular, how does our notion of a criminal action depend on whether the prohibited action is an activity, an accomplishment, an achievement, or a state?
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  44. Elena Casetta & Achille C. Varzi (2005). On Location: Aristotle's Concept of Place. Dialectica 59 (1):75–81.
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  45. Achille C. Varzi (2005). Beth Too, but Only If. Analysis 65 (287):224–229.
    On the difficulty of extracting the logical form of a seemingly simple sentence such as ‘If Andy went to the movie then Beth went too, but only if she found a taxi cab’, with some morals and questions on the nature of the difficulty.
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  46. 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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  47. Achille C. Varzi (2005). The Vagueness of ‘Vague’: Rejoinder to Hull. Mind 114 (455):695-702.
    A rejoinder to G. Hull’s reply to my Mind 2003. Hull argues that Sorensen’s purported proof that ‘vague’ is vague--which I defended against certain familiar objections--fails. He offers three reasons: (i) the vagueness exhibited by Sorensen’s sorites is just the vagueness of ‘small’; (ii) the general assumption underlying the proof, to the effect that predicates which possess borderline cases are vague, is mistaken; (iii) the conclusion of the proof is unacceptable, for it is possible to create Sorensen-type sorites even for (...)
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  48. 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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