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Achille C. Varzi [154]Achille Varzi [44]
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Profile: Achille C. Varzi (Columbia University)
  1. Achille Varzi, No Difference Without a Difference Maker.
    to appear in The Philosophical Quarterly.
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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. Achille Varzi, Boundary [Encyclopedia Entry].
    A brief review of the main philosophical problems and theories about the nature of boundaries and their place in our conceptual scheme.
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  5. Achille Varzi, Events [Encyclopedia Entry].
    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); (iii) Existence, Identity, and Indeterminacy.
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  6. Achille Varzi, Holes [Encyclopedia Entry].
    A brief introduction to the main philosophical problems and theories about the nature of holes and such-like nothingnesses.
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  7. Achille Varzi, Ontologia.
    L’ontologia è quel ramo della filosofia che, secondo una definizione oggi piuttosto diffusa, verte intorno alla domanda: “Che cosa esiste?”. Nata con Aristotele, sebbene battezzata soltanto nel XVII secolo, questa disciplina ha occupato una posizione di rilievo per tutta la storia del pensiero filosofico, e dopo un periodo di profondo ripensamento nella prima metà del XX secolo è oggi al centro di un rinnovato interesse soprattutto nell’ambito della cosiddetta filosofia analitica. Questo libro offre al lettore italiano un quadro dettagliato e (...)
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  8. 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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  9. 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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  10. 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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  11. Achille Varzi, Author Display.
    Philosophy of Language Philosophy of Logic On a rather popular conception, the paradox of analysis suggests that the intersubstitutivity of analysans and analysandum should be restricted to non-psychological contexts. This is typically taken to be compatible with the idea that two sentences differing only in that one has the analysandum where the other has the analysans express exactly the same proposition. In this note we argue that this should be pondered upon in light of the view that many important ordinary (...)
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  12. Achille 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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  13. 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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  14. Achille Varzi, Events.
    Broadly understood, events are things that happen -- things such as births and deaths, thunder and lightening, explosions, weddings, hiccups and hand-waves, dances, smiles, walks. Whether such things form a genuine metaphysical category is a question that has attracted the sustained interest of philosophers, especially in the second half of the 20th century. But there is little question that human perception, action, language, and thought manifest at least a..
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  15. Achille Varzi, Environmental Metaphysics.
    We outline the beginnings of a general theory of environments, of the parts or regions of space in which organisms live and move. We draw on two sources: on the one hand on recent work on the ontology of space; on the other hand on work by ecological scientists on concepts such as territory, habitat and niche.
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  16. Achille Varzi, Logica.
    La filosofia non è una scienza empirica e si regge in buona misura sull’argomenta- zione (→), cioè sulla capacità di giustificare certe affermazioni, o tesi, sulla base di altre ritenute vere. Sin dall’antichità la teoria dell’argomentazione ha pertanto occupato una posizione di rilievo nella ricerca filosofica, e già a partire da Aristotele ha contribuito a definire quel settore disciplinare che oggi chiamiamo logica (dalla parola greca logos, che significa tra l’altro ‘discorso’, ‘ragionamento’). Aristotele stesso codificò la materia in maniera sistematica, (...)
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  17. Achille Varzi, Logic and Metaphysics.
    As a theory of reasoning, 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. It is precisely because of its metaphysical commitments that Aristotelian syllogistics, for example, was eventually deemed inadequate as a canon of pure logical reasoning. The inference from an A-form statement such as (1) All humans are mortal to the corresponding I-form statement.
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  18. Achille Varzi, Mereology.
    Mereology (from the Greek μερος, ‘part’) is the theory of parthood relations: of the relations of part to whole and the relations of part to part within a whole. Its roots can be traced back to the early days of philosophy, beginning with the Presocratic atomists and continuing throughout the writings of Plato (especially the Parmenides and the Thaetetus), Aristotle (especially the Metaphysics, but also the Physics, the Topics, and De partibus animalium ), and Boethius (especially In Ciceronis Topica ). (...)
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  19. Achille Varzi, Metafisica.
    La metafisica è quel ramo della filosofia che ha come oggetto la realtà considerata nei suoi aspetti più fondamentali e generali. L’origine del termine (letteralmente: ‘dopo’ o ‘oltre la fisica’) risale agli editori delle opere di Aristotele nel I secolo a.C., che lo usarono per classificare gli scritti dedicati a quest’argomento e ritenuti, appunto, posteriori a quelli dedicati alla fisica. L’essere si dice in molti modi, scriveva Aristotele in quelle pagine, e a questa molteplicità di significati corrispondono domini d’interesse specifici. (...)
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  20. Achille 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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  21. Achille Varzi, Philosophical Issues in Geography—an Introduction.
    Geography presents interesting and intricate trade-offs between empirical data and demands, on the one hand, and deep philosophical issues (from ontology to political philosophy), on the other. What is a geographic entity? What is the relationship between a geographic entity and a physical territory? Can a geographic entity survive without a territory or without definite borders? Can it survive radical changes in its territory? Are there clear-cut identity criteria for geographic categories? This paper serves as an introduction to a special (...)
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  22. Achille Varzi, Spatial Entities.
    Ordinary reasoning about space--we argue--is first and foremost reasoning about things or events located in space. Accordingly, any theory concerned with the construction of a general model of our spatial competence must be grounded on a general account of the sort of entities that may enter into the scope of the theory. Moreover, on the methodological side the emphasis on spatial entities (as opposed to purely geometrical items such as points or regions) calls for a reexamination of the conceptual categories (...)
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  23. Achille Varzi, Surrounding Space.
    The history of evolution is a history of development from less to more complex organisms. This growth in complexity of organisms goes hand in hand with a concurrent growth in complexity of environments and of organism-environment relations. It is a concern with this latter aspect of evolutionary development that motivates the present paper. We develop a formal theory of organism-environment relations and we show that the theory can be applied to a range of different sorts of cases, both biological and (...)
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  24. Achille 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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  25. Achille 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 show how the mereotopological apparatus developed elsewhere allows one to account for this phenomenon within the framework of event-based semantics.
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  26. Achille Varzi, The Formal Structure of Ecological Contexts.
    A b s t r a c t . This paper presents the outline of a formal ontology of contexts. More specifically, it deals with the ontology of ecological contexts (niches, habitats, environments, ambients) and of the relations between organisms, niches, and the spatial regions they occupy. The first part sets out the basic conceptual background. The second part outlines a semi-formal theory which builds upon notions and principles of mereology, topology, and the theory of spatial location.
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  27. Achille Varzi & Roberto Casati, 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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  28. Achille C. Varzi (forthcoming). The Magic of Holes. In Pina Marsico & Luca Tateo (eds.), (eds.), Ordinary Things and Their Extraordinary Meanings, Charlotte (NC),. 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 & Claudio Calosi (forthcoming). De li accidiosi che son avversi al possibile. Rivista Italiana di Filosofia Analitica Junior.
    This is a supplement to our book "Le tribolazioni del filosofare. Comedia metaphysica ne la quale si tratta de li errori & de le pene de l’Infero". It features an entirely new canto of the poem (originally thought to be lost) along with an extensive commentary. The canto covers the first ring of the circle of the Sullen, which hosts the Adverse to the Possible, and deals with several philosophical questions concerning the metaphysics of modality.
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  30. Claudio Calosi & Achille C. Varzi (2014). Back to Black. Ratio 27 (3).
    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 (by now popular) 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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  31. 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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  32. 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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  33. 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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  34. 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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  35. 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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  36. 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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  37. 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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  38. 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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  39. 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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  40. Achille C. Varzi (2014). Musil's Imaginary Bridge. The Monist 97 (1):30-46.
    In a calculation involving imaginary numbers, we begin with real numbers that represent concrete measures and we end up with numbers that are equally real, but in the course of the operation we find ourselves walking “as if on a bridge that stands on no piles”. How is that possible? How does that work? And what is involved in the as-if stance that this metaphor introduces so beautifully? These are questions that bother Törless deeply. And that Törless is bothered by (...)
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  41. 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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  42. Achille C. Varzi & Claudio Calosi (2014). Le Tribolazioni Del Filosofare. Comedia Metaphysica Ne la Quale Si Tratta de Li Errori & de le Pene de L’Infero. Laterza.
    A scholarly annotated epic poem on the pitfalls and tribulations of “good philosophizing”. Divided into twenty-eight cantos (in medieval Italian hendecasyllabic terza rima), the poem tells of an allegorical journey through the downward spiral of the philosophers’ hell, where all sorts of thinkers are punished for their faults and mistakes, in the endeavor to reach a way out of the condition of intellectual impasse in which the narrator has found himself. The affinities with Dante’s Inferno are apparent. Whereas Dante’s poem (...)
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  43. 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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  44. Achille C. Varzi (2013). Cover to Cover. Current Musicology 95:177–191.
    Paul Goguen once said that art is either plagiarism or revolution. That is certainly true of music. From pop to jazz to classical music, there’s a long history of borrowing, lifting, and stealing from other composers, along with other ways of building on their artistic contributions. Here I try to put some order in the complex picture that emerges from such a history, with an eye to the criteria—if any—that underlie the complex ways in which we compare, identify, and categorize (...)
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  45. Achille C. Varzi (2013). Fictionalism in Ontology. In Carola Barbero, Maurizio Ferraris & Alberto Voltolini (eds.), From Fictionalism to Realism. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 133–151.
    Fictionalism in ontology is a mixed bag. Here I focus on three main variants—which I label after the names of Pascal, Berkeley, and Hume—and consider their relative strengths and weaknesses. The first variant is just a version of the epistemic Wager, applied across the board. The second variant builds instead on the fact that ordinary language is not ontologically transparent; we speak with the vulgar, but deep down we think with the learned. Finally, on the Humean variant it’s the structure (...)
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  46. Achille C. Varzi (2013). Livelli di realtà e descrizioni del mondo. Giornale di Metafisica 35 (2/3).
    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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  47. 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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  48. 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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  49. 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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  50. 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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