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Achille C. Varzi [202]Achille Carlo Varzi [1]
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Achille C. Varzi
Columbia University
  1. Mereology.Achille C. Varzi - 2016 - 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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  2. Parts and Places: The Structures of Spatial Representation.Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi - 1999 - 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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  3. Holes and Other Superficialities.Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi - 1994 - 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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  4. Events.Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi - 2014 - 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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  5. Supervaluationism and Its Logics.Achille C. Varzi - 2007 - Mind 116 (463):633-676.
    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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  6. The Extensionality of Parthood and Composition.Achille C. Varzi - 2008 - Philosophical Quarterly 58 (230):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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  7. Fiat and Bona Fide Boundaries.Barry Smith & Achille C. Varzi - 2000 - 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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  8. Counting and Countenancing.Achille C. Varzi - 2014 - In Aaron J. Cotnoir & Donald L. M. Baxter (eds.), Composition as Identity. Oxford University Press. pp. 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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  9. Parts, Wholes, and Part-Whole Relations: The Prospects of Mereotopology.Achille C. Varzi - 1996 - 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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  10. Universalism entails Extensionalism.Achille C. Varzi - 2009 - 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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  11. Holes.Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi - 2014 - 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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  12. Boundaries, Continuity, and Contact.Achille C. Varzi - 1997 - 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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  13.  18
    W Hat is a City?Achille C. Varzi - 2021 - Topoi 40 (2):399-408.
    Cities are mysteriously attractive. The more we get used to being citizens of the world, the more we feel the need to identify ourselves with a city. Moreover, this need seems in no way distressed by the fact that the urban landscape around us changes continuously: new buildings rise, new restaurants open, new stores, new parks, new infrastructures… Cities seem to vindicate Heraclitus’s dictum: you cannot step twice into the same river; you cannot walk twice through the same city. But, (...)
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  14. The Niche.Barry Smith & Achille C. Varzi - 1999 - 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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  15. Natural Axioms for Classical Mereology.Aaron Cotnoir & Achille C. Varzi - 2019 - Review of Symbolic Logic 12 (1):201-208.
    We present a new axiomatization of classical mereology in which the three components of the theory—ordering, composition, and decomposition prin-ciples—are neatly separated. The equivalence of our axiom system with other, more familiar systems is established by purely deductive methods, along with additional results on the relative strengths of the composition and decomposition axioms of each theory.
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  16.  36
    On Three Axiom Systems for Classical Mereology.Achille C. Varzi - 2019 - Logic and Logical Philosophy 28 (2):203–207.
    Paul Hovda’s excellent paper ‘What Is Classical Mereology?' has fruitfully reshaped the debate concerning the axiomatic foundations of classical mereology. Precisely because of the importance of Hovda’s work and its usefulness as a reference tool, we note here that one of the five axiom systems presented therein, corresponding the ‘Third Way’ to classical mereology, is defective and must be amended. In addition, we note that two other axiom systems, corresponding to the ‘First Way’ and to the ‘Fifth Way’, involve redundancies.
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  17. Perdurantism, Universalism and Quantifiers.Achille C. Varzi - 2003 - 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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    W hat is a City?Achille C. Varzi - 2019 - Topoi (2):1-10.
    Cities are mysteriously attractive. The more we get used to being citizens of the world, the more we feel the need to identify ourselves with a city. Moreover, this need seems in no way distressed by the fact that the urban landscape around us changes continuously: new buildings rise, new restaurants open, new stores, new parks, new infrastructures… Cities seem to vindicate Heraclitus’s dictum: you cannot step twice into the same river; you cannot walk twice through the same city. But, (...)
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  19. A Note on the Transitivity of Parthood.Achille C. Varzi - 2006 - 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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  20. Vagueness in Geography.Achille C. Varzi - 2001 - Philosophy and Geography 4 (1):49–65.
    Some have argued that the vagueness exhibited by geographic names and descriptions such as ‘Albuquerque’, ‘the Outback’, or ‘Mount Everest’ is ultimately ontological: these terms are vague because they refer to vague objects, objects with fuzzy boundaries. I take the opposite stand and hold the view that geographic vagueness is exclusively semantic, or conceptual at large. There is no such thing as a vague mountain. Rather, there are many things where we conceive a mountain to be, each with its precise (...)
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  21. Boundaries, Conventions, and Realism.Achille C. Varzi - 2011 - In Michael O'Rourke, Joseph K. Campbell & Matthew H. Slater (eds.), Carving Nature at its Joints: Natural Kinds in Metaphysics and Science. MIT Press. pp. 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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  22.  12
    Fiction and Metaphysics.Achille C. Varzi - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (3):723-727.
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  23. On Logical Relativity.Achille C. Varzi - 2002 - 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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  24. Speaking of Events.James Higginbotham, Fabio Pianesi & Achille C. Varzi (eds.) - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
    The idea that an adequate semantics of ordinary language calls for some theory of events has sparked considerable debate among linguists and philosophers. On the one hand, so many linguistic phenomena appear to be explained if (and, according to some authors, only if) we make room for logical forms in which reference to or quantification over events is explicitly featured. Examples include nominalization, adverbial modification, tense and aspect, plurals, and singular causal statements. On the other hand, a number of deep (...)
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  25. Omissions and Causal Explanations.Achille C. Varzi - 2007 - In Francesca Castellani & Josef Quitterer (eds.), Agency and Causation in the Human Sciences. Mentis Verlag. pp. 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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  26.  95
    Mereological Commitments.Achille C. Varzi - 2000 - 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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  27. Spatial Reasoning and Ontology: Parts, Wholes, and Locations.Achille C. Varzi - 2007 - In Marco Aiello, Ian E. Pratt-Hartmann & Johan van Benthem (eds.), Handbook of Spatial Logics. Springer Verlag. pp. 945-1038.
    A critical survey of the fundamental philosophical issues in the logic and formal ontology of space, with special emphasis on the interplay between mereology (the theory of parthood relations), topology (broadly understood as a theory of qualitative spatial relations such as continuity and contiguity), and the theory of spatial location proper.
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  28.  80
    Change, Temporal Parts, and the Argument From Vagueness.Achille C. Varzi - 2005 - 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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  29. The Structure of Spatial Localization.Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi - 1996 - Philosophical Studies 82 (2):205 - 239.
    What are the relationships between an entity and the space at which it is located? And between a region of space and the events that take place there? What is the metaphysical structure of localization? What its modal status? This paper addresses some of these questions in an attempt to work out at least the main coordinates of the logical structure of localization. Our task is mostly taxonomic. But we also highlight some of the underlying structural features and we single (...)
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  30.  90
    Naming the Stages.Achille C. Varzi - 2003 - 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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  31. The Universe Among Other Things.Achille C. Varzi - 2006 - 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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  32.  35
    Counterpart theories for everyone.Achille C. Varzi - 2020 - Synthese 197 (11):4691-4715.
    David Lewis’s counterpart theory is often seen as involving a radical departure from the standard, Kripke-style semantics for modal logic, suggesting that we are dealing with deeply divergent accounts of our modal talk. However, CT captures but one version of the relevant semantic intuition, and does so on the basis of metaphysical assumptions that are ostensibly discretionary. Just as ML can be translated into a language that quantifies explicitly over worlds, CT may be formulated as a semantic theory in which (...)
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  33. An Essay in Universal Semantics.Achille C. Varzi - 1999
  34.  82
    Inconsistency Without Contradiction.Achille C. Varzi - 1997 - Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 38 (4):621-639.
    David Lewis has argued that impossible worlds are nonsense: if there were such worlds, one would have to distinguish between the truths about their contradictory goings-on and contradictory falsehoods about them; and this--Lewis argues--is preposterous. In this paper I examine a way of resisting this argument by giving up the assumption that ‘in so-and-so world’ is a restricting modifier which passes through the truth-functional connectives The outcome is a sort of subvaluational semantics which makes a contradiction ‘A & ~A’ false (...)
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  35. Event Concepts.Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi - 2008 - In Thomas F. Shipley & Jeffrey M. Zacks (eds.), Understanding Events: From Perception to Action. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 31–54.
    This chapter analyzes the concept of an event and of event representation as an umbrella notion. It provides an overview of different ways events have been dealt with in philosophy, linguistics, and cognitive science. This variety of positions has been construed in part as the result of different descriptive and explanatory projects. It is argued that various types of notions — common-sense, theoretically revised, scientific, and internalist psychological — be kept apart.
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  36. Events and Event Talk: An Introduction.Fabio Pianesi & Achille C. Varzi - 2000 - In James Higginbotham, Fabio Pianesi & Achille C. Varzi (eds.), Speaking of Events. Oxford University Press. pp. 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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  37. The Talk I Was Supposed to Give….Achille C. Varzi - 2006 - In Andrea Bottani & Richard Davies (eds.), Modes of Existence: Papers in Ontology and Philosophical Logic. Ontos Verlag. pp. 131–152.
    Assuming that events form a genuine ontological category, shall we say that a good inventory of the world ought to include “negative” events—failures, omissions, things that didn’t happen—along with positive ones? I argue that we shouldn’t. Talk of non-occurring events is like talk of non-existing objects and should not be taken at face value. We often speak as though there were such things, but deep down we want our words to be interpreted in such a way as to avoid serious (...)
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  38. Back to Black.Claudio Calosi & Achille C. Varzi - 2016 - 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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  39. Deviant Logic, Fuzzy Logic: Beyond the Formalism.Achille C. Varzi & Susan Haack - 1998 - Philosophical Review 107 (3):468.
    This book has three main parts. The first, longer, part is a reprint of the author's Deviant Logic, which initially appeared as a book by itself in 1974. The second and third parts include reprints of five papers originally published between 1973 and 1980. Three of them focus on the nature and justification of deductive reasoning, which are also a major concern of Deviant Logic. The other two are on fuzzy logic, and make up for a major omission of Deviant (...)
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  40. Words and Objects.Achille C. Varzi - 2002 - In Andrea Bottani, Massimiliano Carrara & Daniele Giaretta (eds.), Individuals, Essence, and Identity. Themes of Analytic Metaphysics. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 49–75.
    A lot of work in metaphysics relies on linguistic analysis and intuitions. Do we want to know what sort of things there are or could be? Then let’s see what sort of things there must be in order for what we truthfully say to be true. Do we want to see whether x is distinct from y? Then let’s see whether there is any statement that is true of x but not of y. And so on. In this paper I (...)
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  41. Ontologia.Achille C. Varzi - 2005 - Laterza.
    An introduction to analytic ontology. Part 1 deals with the question, What is ontology?, focusing on (i) the interplay between ontological and broadly metaphysical concerns, and (ii) the difference between material ontology and formal ontology. Part 2 deals with the question, How is ontology done?, focusing on (i) the delicate interplay between ontology and truth-making (or: between meaning and existence), and (ii) the differences between revolutionary vs. hermeneutic, prescriptive vs. descriptive, and absolute vs. relative approaches to ontology. Part 3 surveys (...)
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  42. Promiscuous Endurantism and Diachronic Vagueness.Achille C. Varzi - 2007 - 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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  43. Fiat and Bona Fide Boundaries: Towards an Ontology of Spatially Extended Objects.Barry Smith & Achille C. Varzi - 1997 - In Stephen Hirtle & Andrew U. Frank (eds.), Spatial Information Theory: International Conference COSIT ‘97. Springer. pp. 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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  44. Events, Topology and Temporal Relations.Fabio Pianesi & Achille C. Varzi - 1996 - The Monist 79 (1):89--116.
    We are used to regarding actions and other events, such as Brutus’ stabbing of Caesar or the sinking of the Titanic, as occupying intervals of some underlying linearly ordered temporal dimension. This attitude is so natural and compelling that one is tempted to disregard the obvious difference between time periods and actual happenings in favor of the former: events become mere “intervals cum description”.1 On the other hand, in ordinary circumstances the point of talking about time is to talk about (...)
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  45. Mereotopological Connection.Anthony G. Cohn & Achille C. Varzi - 2003 - 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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  46. Boundary.Achille C. Varzi - 2013 - 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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  47. The Magic of Holes.Achille C. Varzi - 2019 - In Pina Marsico & Luca Tateo (eds.), Ordinary Things and Their Extraordinary Meanings. Charlotte (NC): Information Age Publishing. pp. 21-33.
    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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  48.  71
    Vagueness, Logic, and Ontology.Achille C. Varzi - 2009 - In Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.), Arguing About Language. Routledge. pp. 135-154.
    Remember the story of the most-most? It’s the story of that club in New York where people are the most of every type. There is the hairiest bald man and the baldest hairy man; the shortest giant and the tallest dwarf; the smartest idiot and the stupidest wise man. They are all there, including honest thieves and crippled acrobats. On Saturday night they have a party, eat, drink, dance. Then they have a contest. “And if you can tell the hairiest (...)
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  49. Reasoning About Space: The Hole Story.Achille C. Varzi - 1996 - Logic and Logical Philosophy 4:3-39.
    This is a revised and extended version of the formal theory of holes outlined in the Appendix to the book "Holes and Other Superficialities". The first part summarizes the basic framework (ontology, mereology, topology, morphology). The second part emphasizes its relevance to spatial reasoning and to the semantics of spatial prepositions in natural language. In particular, I discuss the semantics of ‘in’ and provide an account of such fallacious arguments as “There is a hole in the sheet. The sheet is (...)
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  50. Parts, Counterparts and Modal Occurrents.Achille C. Varzi - 2001 - Travaux de Logique 14 (1):151-171.
    The paper investigates the link between the theory of modal occurrents (where individuals are allowed to stretch across possible worlds) and Lewis’s counterpart theory (where all individuals are world-bound but have counterparts in other worlds). First I show how to interpret modal talk extensionally within the theory of modal occurrents. Then I show that the assumption that worlds be pairwise discrete is all that is needed to reconstruct the bulk of counterpart theory (i.e., to define the concept of a counterpart (...)
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