In Timothy Tambassi (ed.), The Philosophy of GIS. New York: Springer. pp. 137-158 (2019)

Barry Smith
State University of New York, Buffalo
In “On Drawing Lines on a Map” (1995), I suggested that the different ways we have of drawing lines on maps open up a new perspective on ontology, resting on a distinction between two sorts of boundaries: fiat and bona fide. “Fiat” means, roughly: human-demarcation-induced. “Bona fide” means, again roughly: a boundary constituted by some real physical discontinuity. I presented a general typology of boundaries based on this opposition and showed how it generates a corresponding typology of the different sorts of objects which boundaries determine or demarcate. In this paper, I describe how the theory of fiat boundaries has evolved since 1995, how it has been applied in areas such as property law and political geography, and how it is being used in contemporary work in formal and applied ontology, especially within the framework of Basic Formal Ontology.
Keywords fiat boundary  mereotopology  national boundaries
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