Ballot Ontology

In Sara Bernstein & Tyron Goldschmidt (eds.), Non-Being: New Essay on the Metaphysics of Non-Existence. Oxford University Press. pp. 139–164 (2021)
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Abstract

The U.S. presidential election of 2000 was crucially decided in Florida. And, in Florida, the election hinged crucially on a peculiar sort of question: Does this ballot have a hole? “Yes, it does”, so the ballot is valid and ought to be counted. “No it doesn’t”, and the ballot must be discarded. If only one could tell! Where were the hole experts when we needed them? Eventually the matter was thwarted by the Supreme Court and we all gave up. But we did learn something. We learned that even the destiny of a Presidential Election, if not more, might ultimately depend on one’s criteria for identifying holes—not their material surroundings, which everyone could detect, but the holes themselves.

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Achille C. Varzi
Columbia University

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