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.
Is a whole something more than the sum of its parts? Are there things composed of the same parts? If you divide an object into parts, and divide those parts into smaller parts, will this process ever come to an end? Can something lose parts or gain new ones without ceasing to be the thing it is? Does any multitude of things (including disparate things such as you, this book, and the tail of a cat) compose a whole of some (...) sort? Questions such as these have occupied us for at least as long as philosophy has existed. They define the field that has come to be known as mereology-the study of all relations of part to whole and of part to part within a whole-and have deep and far-reaching ramifications in metaphysics as well as in logic, the foundations of mathematics, the philosophy of language, the philosophy of science, and beyond. In Mereology, A. J. Cotnoir and Achille C. Varzi have compiled decades of advanced research into a comprehensive, up-to-date, and formally rigorous picture. The early chapters cover the more classical aspects of mereology; the rest of the book deals with variants and extensions. Whether you are an established professional philosopher, an interested student, or a newcomer, inside you will find all the tools you need to join this ever-evolving field of inquiry and theorize about all things mereological. (shrink)
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 (...) mereology (the study of part/whole relations), topology (the study of spatial continuity and compactness), and the theory of spatial location proper. This leads to a unified framework for spatial representation understood quite broadly as a theory of the representation of spatial entities. The framework is then tested against some classical metaphysical questions such as: Are parts essential to their wholes? Is spatial colocation a sufficient criterion of identity? What (if anything) distinguishes material objects from events and other spatial entities? The concluding chapters deal with applications to topics as diverse as the logical analysis of movement and the semantics of maps. (shrink)
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 (...) these uniformly as immaterial bodies. We develop a morphology of holes, focusing on the way a hole can be filled, and then look at the main properties of the resulting conceptual framework: holes are parasitic upon the surfaces of their hosts; holes can move, fuse into each other, split; they can be born, develop, and die. Finally, we examine how some morphological features of holes are represented in perception, including the conditions whereby we have the impression that we see, feel, or even hear a hole. The book has over 150 pictures and is completed by a formal appendix, a section with puzzles and exercises, and a extensive annotated bibliography. (shrink)
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 (...) or unsupported. In the second part I argue that they hardly undermine the tenability of EC and UC as well. (shrink)
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 (...) far more popular, but I argue in favor of the latter, for (i) it does not suffer from a number of serious objections, and (ii) it makes it possible to restore global validity as a defined notion. (shrink)
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 (...) yield a notion of contact that is effectively modeled by classical topology; the analogue of contact involving fiat boundaries calls, however, for a different account, based on the intuition that fiat boundaries do not support the open/closed distinction on which classical topology is based. In the presence of this two-sorted ontology it then transpires that mereotopology—topology erected on a mereological basis—is more than a trivial formal variant of classical point-set topology. (shrink)
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, (...) and my inclination to count just 1 thing, x, or just n things, the y’s, the former encompassing the same amount of reality as the latter. This paper is an attempt to reconstruct this tension and to explain it away without forgoing the intimate link between counting and countenancing. (shrink)
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 (...) subsuming mereology. Some more speculative strategies and directions for further research are also considered. (shrink)
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).
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, (...) as with the river, we want and need to say that it is the same city we are walking through every day. It is always different, but numerically self-identical. How is that possible? What sort of mysterious thing is a city? The answer, I submit, is that cities aren’t things. They are processes. Like rivers, cities unfold in time just as they extend in space, by having different temporal parts for each time at which they exist. And walking though one part and then again through another is, literally, walking through the same whole. (shrink)
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 (...) examples, but the concept of niche should be understood as being, like concepts such as part, boundary, and location, a structural concept that is applicable in principle to a wide range of different domains. (shrink)
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 (...) be treated a mere façon de parler. In this paper I resist this temptation and examine some ways of taking the puzzle at face value within a realist perspective—treating boundaries as ontologically on a par with (albeit parasitic upon) extended parts. (shrink)
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 (...) boundary, and when we say ‘Everest’ we are just being vague as to which thing we are referring to. This paper defends this view against some plausible objections. (shrink)
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 (...) on that theory. So, given any language L, one could settle on the minimal logic T0 corresponding to the common core shared by all competitors. That would be a way of resisting relativism, as long as one is willing to redraw the bounds of logic accordingly. However, such a minimal theory T0 may be empty if the syntax of L contains no special ingredients the interpretation of which is independent of the specification of the relevant L-models. And generally—I argue—this is indeed the case. (shrink)
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.
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.
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?
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 (...) the Minimalist View: An element in the field of a part-whole relation is to be included in an inventory of the world if and only if it does not overlap any distinct element that is itself included in the inventory. (shrink)
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 (...) philosophical questions arise as soon as we take events into consideration. Are events entities of a kind? What are their identity and individuation criteria? How does semantic theorizing depend on such metaphysical issues? The aim of this book is to address such issues in some depth, with emphasis precisely on the interplay between linguistic applications and philosophical implications. Contributors: N. Asher, P. M. Bertinetto, J. Brandl, D. Delfitto, R. Eckardt, J. Higginbotham, A. Lenci, T. Parsons, A. ter Meulen, H. Verkuyl. A comprehensive introductory essay (pp. 3-47) is included. (shrink)
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.
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 (...) cases of causation by omission. In particular, I elaborate on Helen Beebee’s idea that not all causal explanations are reports of causation. When we mention John’s failure to turn off the gas as an explanans of why there was an explosion, we do not say what caused the explosion. We do not mention any of the relevant causes. We just remark that one sort of event that was supposed to occur, and whose occurrence would have prevented the explosion, did not in fact occur. (shrink)
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.
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 (...) once all the gaps of the argument are filled in, the three-dimensionalist is left with the burden of a response that cannot rely on a passive plea for common sense. The argument is not a threat to common sense as such; it is a threat to the three-dimensionalist faithfulness to common sense. (shrink)
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.
I am a friend of supervaluationism. A statement lacks a definite truth value if, and only if, it comes out true on some admissible ways of precisifying the semantics of the relevant vocabulary and false on others. In this paper, I focus on the special case of identity statements. I take it that such statements, too, may occasionally suffer a truth-value gap, including philosophically significant instances. Yet there is a potentially devastating objection that can be raised against the supervaluationist treatment (...) of such cases—in fact two objections. Luckily, both can be resisted. But seeing how requires that we take a closer look at the ontological presuppositions of supervaluationism, allowing for more leeway than is usually supposed. (shrink)
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 (...) the state of the art in a number of areas, both in material ontology (e.g., the problem of universals, the status of objects and events, the ontology of mathematics, of the physical sciences, of the social sciences) and in formal ontology (identity, ontological dependence, part-whole relations). (shrink)
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.
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 (...) out the interactions between the notion of localization and nearby notions, such as the notions of part and whole, or of necessity and possibility. A theory of localization—we argue—is needed in order to account for the basic relations between objects and space, and runs afoul a pure part-whole theory. We also provide an axiomatization of the relation of localization and examine cases of localization involving entities different from material objects. (shrink)
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 (...) is simply denying that there can be worlds with two or more indiscernible entities. (shrink)
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 (...) is that different speakers ever manage to pick out one and the same entity when a host of suitable, overlapping candidates are available. But what if the entity in question is neither a continuant nor a perdurant? What if the things we talk about in ordinary language are time-bound entities that cannot truly be said to persist through time, or stage sequences whose unity resides exclusively in our minds--like the “waves” at the stadium or the characters of a cartoon? In such cases the rigidity claim can’t be right and a counterpart-theoretic semantics seems required. Is that bad? I say it isn’t. And it had better not be, if that turns out to be the best metaphysical option we have. (shrink)
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 (...) even when both ‘A’ and ‘~A’ are true, just as supervaluational semantics makes a tautology ‘A v ~A’ true even when neither ‘A’ nor ‘~A’ are. Connections with discussive logics and complications of the account are discussed, and some general morals are drawn. (shrink)
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 (...) your own body). Sometimes the boundary lies skew to any physical discontinuity or qualitative differentiation (as with the border of Wyoming, or the boundary between the upper and lower halves of a homogeneous sphere). But whether sharp or blurry, natural or artificial, for every object there appears to be a boundary that marks it off from the rest of the world. Events, too, have boundaries — at least temporal boundaries. Our lives are bounded by our births and by our deaths; the soccer game began at 3pm sharp and ended with the referee's final whistle at 4:45pm. It is sometimes suggested that even abstract entities, such as concepts or sets, have boundaries of their own, and Wittgenstein could emphatically proclaim that the boundaries of our language are the boundaries of our world. Whether all this boundary talk is coherent, however, and whether it reflects the structure of the world or simply the organizing activity of our mind, are matters of deep philosophical controversy. (shrink)
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 (...) telicity/atelicity distinction, the treatment of statives, and temporal quantification. (shrink)
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 (...) ontological commitment. (shrink)
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 (...) argue that this way of proceeding is full of traps and is bound to be pretty useless unless we already have a good idea of what sort of things there are, and of how we are going to count them. (shrink)
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 (...) what actually happens or might happen at some time or another. We talk about ‘now’ and ‘then’ in an effort to put some order in our description of what goes on. And since different events seem to overlap in so many different ways, a full account of their temporal relations seems to run afoul of a reductionist strategy. This raises two philosophical questions. The ﬁrst is whether we can actually go beyond time, as it were, i.e., whether we can take events as bona ﬁde entities and deal with them directly, just as we can deal with spatial entities such as physical bodies or masses without conﬁning ourselves to their spatial representations. This is a controversial issue (though probably not as controversial as it used to be), and ties in with a number of unsettled problems concerning, e.g., the structure of causality or the deﬁnition of adequate identity and individuation criteria for events. 2 The second question is whether we can perhaps do without time, i.e., whether we can dispense with time points or intervals as an independent ontological category and focus only on actual or potential happenings, in opposition to the form of reductionism mentioned above—in short, whether we can account for the temporal dimension in terms of suitable relations among events. This is also a highly controversial issue, and relates to the classical dispute concerning relational vs. absolutist conceptions of (space and) time.3 It is this second question that we intend to focus on here.. (shrink)
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 (...) bald man from the baldest hairy man—we are told—you get a prize.”. (shrink)
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 (...) the connection and its multiplicity. (shrink)
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.
We tend to talk about 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 an inventory over and above its own parts. This paper is an attempt to clarify a way of dealing with this tension which may be labeled the Minimalist View: an (...) element in the field of a part‐whole relation is to be included in an inventory of the world if, and only if, it does not overlap any other element that is itself included in the inventory. As it turns out, a clarification of this view involves both a defense of mereological extensionality and an account of the topological distinction between detached and undetached parts. (shrink)
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. (...) One must first of all figure out what things exist (or might exist); then one can attend to the further question of what they are, specify their nature, speculate on those features that make each thing the thing it is. I sympathize with that thought, but there is a major worry lurking in the background and there are several complications that emerge in the foreground. The purpose of this paper is to address such worries and complications and to come up with a plausible way of understanding the “priority thesis” that makes it both reasonable and, hopefully, useful. (shrink)
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 (...) resources for explaining diachronic vagueness in familiar semantic terms. (shrink)
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 (...) the physical world and the fiat (or human-demarcation-induced) boundaries with which much of geography has to deal. Two distinct axiomatic theories of boundaries are accordingly presented, and the need for both is examined in some detail. The resultant dual framework is shown to have application above all for our understanding of issues involving contact, division, and separation, issues which have posed serious difficulties for the ontological theories of boundaries that have been proposed hitherto. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with certain ontological issues in the foundations of geographic representation. It sets out what these basic issues are, describes the tools needed to deal with them, and draws some implications for a general theory of spatial representation. Our approach has ramifications in the domains of mereology, topology, and the theory of location, and the question of the interaction of these three domains within a unified spatial representation theory is addressed. In the final part we also consider (...) the idea of non-standard geographies, which may be associated with geography under a classical conception in the same sense in which non-standard logics are associated with classical logic. (shrink)
Pamela: “… but, I hope I shall copy your Example, and that of Joseph, my Name’s-sake; and maintain my Virtue against all Temptations.” Joseph, these are such kind words. I hope you were not being sarcastic.
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 (...) in the drawer. Ergo *there is a hole in the drawer”. (shrink)