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Boundaries, continuity, and contact

Noûs 31 (1):26-58 (1997)

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  1. Boundaries and Things. A Metaphysical Study of the Brentano-Chisholm Theory.Gonzalo Nuñez Erices - 2019 - Kriterion: Journal of Philosophy 33 (2):15-48.
    The fact that boundaries are ontologically dependent entities is agreed by Franz Brentano and Roderick Chisholm. This article studies both authors as a single metaphysical account about boundaries. The Brentano-Chisholm theory understands that boundaries and the objects to which they belong hold a mutual relationship of ontological dependence: the existence of a boundary depends upon a continuum of higher spatial dimensionality, but also is a conditio sine qua non for the existence of a continuum. Although the view that ordinary material (...)
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  • Judging Life and Its Value.Brooke Alan Trisel - 2007 - Sorites (18):60-75.
    One’s life can be meaningful, but not worth living, or worth living, but not meaningful, which demonstrates that an evaluation of whether life is worth living differs from an evaluation of whether one’s life is meaningful. But how do these evaluations differ? As I will argue, an evaluation of whether life is worth living is a more comprehensive evaluation than the evaluation of whether one’s individual life is meaningful. In judging whether one finds life worth living, one takes into account, (...)
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  • Labyrinth of Continua†.Patrick Reeder - 2018 - Philosophia Mathematica 26 (1):1-39.
    This is a survey of the concept of continuity. Efforts to explicate continuity have produced a plurality of philosophical conceptions of continuity that have provably distinct expressions within contemporary mathematics. I claim that there is a divide between the conceptions that treat the whole continuum as prior to its parts, and those conceptions that treat the parts of the continuum as prior to the whole. Along this divide, a tension emerges between those conceptions that favor philosophical idealizations of continuity and (...)
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  • 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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  • A Unified Framework for Building Ontological Theories with Application and Testing in the Field of Clinical Trials.Heller Barbara, Herre Heinrich & Barry Smith - 2001 - In IFOMIS Reports. Leipzig: University of Leipzig.
    The objective of this research programme is to contribute to the establishment of the emerging science of Formal Ontology in Information Systems via a collaborative project involving researchers from a range of disciplines including philosophy, logic, computer science, linguistics, and the medical sciences. The re­searchers will work together on the construction of a unified formal ontology, which means: a general framework for the construction of ontological theories in specific domains. The framework will be constructed using the axiomatic-deductive method of modern (...)
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  • Topological Essentialism.Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi - 2000 - Philosophical Studies 100 (3):217-236.
    Considering topology as an extension of mereology, this paper analyses topological variants of mereological essentialism (the thesis that an object could not have different parts than the ones it has). In particular, we examine de dicto and de re versions of two theses: (i) that an object cannot change its external connections (e.g., adjacent objects cannot be separated), and (ii) that an object cannot change its topological genus (e.g., a doughnut cannot turn into a sphere). Stronger forms of structural essentialism, (...)
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  • 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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  • Boundaries in Reality.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2012 - Ratio 25 (4):405-424.
    This paper defends the idea that there must be some joints in reality, some correct way to classify or categorize it. This may seem obvious, but we will see that there are at least three conventionalist arguments against this idea, as well as philosophers who have found them convincing. The thrust of these arguments is that the manner in which we structure, divide or carve up the world is not grounded in any natural, genuine boundaries in the world. Ultimately they (...)
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  • 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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  • Basic Problems of Mereotopology.Achille C. Varzi - 1998 - In Nicola Guarino (ed.), Formal Ontology in Information Systems. Ios Press. pp. 29–38.
    Mereotopology is today regarded as a major tool for ontological analysis, and for many good reasons. There are, however, a number of open questions that call for an answer. Some are philosophical, others have direct applicative import, but all are crucial for a proper assessment of the strengths and limits of mereotopology. This paper is an attempt to put sum order in this area.
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  • Is Purple a Red and Blue Chessboard? Brentano on Colour Mixtures.Olivier Massin & Marion Hämmerli - 2017 - The Monist 100 (1):37-63.
    Can we maintain that purple seems composed of red and blue without giving up the impenetrability of the red and blue parts that compose it? Brentano thinks we can. Purple, according to him, is a chessboard of red and blue tiles which, although individually too small to be perceived, are together indistinctly perceived within the purple. After a presentation of Brentano’s solution, we raise two objections to it. First, Brentano’s solution commits him to unperceivable intentional objects (the chessboard’s tiles). Second, (...)
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  • Perché i buchi sono importanti. Problemi di rappresentazione spaziale.Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi - 1997 - Sapere 63 (2):38–43.
    The methodological anarchy that characterizes much recent research in artificial intelligence and other cognitive sciences has brought into existence (sometimes resumed) a large variety of entities from a correspondingly large variety of (sometimes dubious) ontological categories. Recent work in spatial representation and reasoning is particularly indicative of this trend. Our aim in this paper is to suggest some ways of reconciling such a luxurious proliferation of entities with the sheer sobriety of good philosophy.
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  • Brentanian Continua.Olivier Massin - forthcoming - Brentano Studien.
    Brentano’s theory of continuity is based on his account of boundaries. The core idea of the theory is that boundaries and coincidences thereof belong to the essence of continua. Brentano is confident that he developed a full-fledged, boundary-based, theory of continuity1; and scholars often concur: whether or not they accept Brentano’s take on continua they consider it a clear contender. My impression, on the contrary, is that, although it is infused with invaluable insights, several aspects of Brentano’s account of continuity (...)
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  • La Possibilité de Contact.Olivier Massin - 2008 - Swiss Philosophical Preprints.
    Deux choses sont en contact s'il n'y a rien entre elles (ni volume, ni ligne, ni point) et qu'elles ne se chevauchent pas (en un volume, un ligne ou un point). Le contact est la limite de proximité des choses : si deux choses sont en contact, deux autres choses ne peuvent être pas être plus près l'une de l'autre sans se pénétrer.
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  • 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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  • The Formal Structure of Ecological Contexts.Barry Smith & Achille C. Varzi - 1999 - In Paolo Bouquet, Patrick Brezillon, Francesca Castellani & Luciano Serafini (eds.), Modeling and Using Context. Proceedings of the Second International and Interdisciplinary Conference. Springer. pp. 339–350.
    This is an informal presentation of the theory of niches understood as ecological contexts. The first part sets out the basic conceptual background. The second part outlines the main principles of the theory and addresses the question of how the theory can be extended to aid our thinking in relation to the special types of causal integrity that characterize niches and niched entities.
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  • Introduction: Philosophical Issues in Geography.Achille C. Varzi - 2001 - Topoi 20 (2):119-130.
    An outline of the wealth of philosophical material that hides behind the flat world of geographic maps, with special reference to (i) the centrality of the boundary concept, (ii) the problem of vagueness, and (iii) the metaphysical question (if such there be) of the identity and persistence conditions of geographic entities. Serves as an introduction to the special issue of "Topoi" (20:2, 2001) on the Philosophy of Geography.
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  • 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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  • Confini. Dove finisce una cosa e inizia un’altra.Achille C. Varzi - 2007 - In Andrea Bottani & Richard Davies (eds.), Ontologie regionali. Mimesis. pp. 209–222.
    Ci imbattiamo in un confine ogni volta che pensiamo a un’entità demarcata rispetto a ciò che la circonda. C’è un confine (una superficie) che delimita l’interno di una sfera dal suo esterno; c’è un confine (una frontiera) che separa il Maryland dalla Pennsylvania. Talvolta la collocazione esatta di un confine non è chiara o è in qualche modo controversa (come quando si cerchi di tracciare i limiti del monte Everest, o il confine del nostro corpo). Talaltra il confine non corrisponde (...)
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  • Ontological Tools for Geographic Representation.Roberto Casati, Barry Smith & Achille C. Varzi - 1998 - In Nicola Guarino (ed.), Formal Ontology in Information Systems (FOIS). Ios Press. pp. 77--85.
    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 (...)
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  • Ontological Categories in GOL.Barbara Heller & Heinrich Herre - 2004 - Axiomathes 14 (1-3):57-76.
    General Ontological Language (GOL) is a formal framework for representing and building ontologies. The purpose of GOL is to provide a system of top-level ontologies which can be used as a basis for building domain-specific ontologies. The present paper gives an overview about the basic categories of the GOL-ontology. GOL is part of the work of the research group Ontologies in Medicine (Onto-Med) at the University of Leipzig which is based on the collaborative work of the Institute of Medical Informatics (...)
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  • 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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  • ∈ : Formal Concepts in a Material World Truthmaking and Exemplification as Types of Determination.Philipp Keller - 2007 - Dissertation, University of Geneva
    In the first part, I consider different notions of determination, contrast and compare modal with non-modal accounts and then defend two a-modality theses concerning essence and supervenience. I argue, first, that essence is a a-modal notion, i.e. not usefully analysed in terms of metaphysical modality, and then, contra Kit Fine, that essential properties can be exemplified contingently. I argue, second, that supervenience is also an a-modal notion, and that it should be analysed in terms of constitution relations between properties. In (...)
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  • Finitism, Divisibilty, and the Beginning of the Universe: Replies to Loke and Dumsday.Stephen Puryear - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 94 (4):808-813.
    Some philosophers contend that the past must be finite in duration, because otherwise reaching the present would have involved the sequential occurrence of an actual infinity of events, which they regard as impossible. I recently developed a new objection to this finitist argument, to which Andrew Ter Ern Loke and Travis Dumsday have replied. Here I respond to the three main points raised in their replies.
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  • Russell and the Temporal Contiguity of Causes and Effects.Graham Clay - 2018 - Erkenntnis 83 (6):1245-1264.
    There are some necessary conditions on causal relations that seem to be so trivial that they do not merit further inquiry. Many philosophers assume that the requirement that there could be no temporal gaps between causes and their effects is such a condition. Bertrand Russell disagrees. In this paper, an in-depth discussion of Russell’s argument against this necessary condition is the centerpiece of an analysis of what is at stake when one accepts or denies that there can be temporal gaps (...)
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  • Philosophical Issues in Geography—An Introduction.Achille C. Varzi - 2001 - Topoi 20 (2):119–130.
    An outline of the wealth of philosophical material that hides behind the flat world of geographic maps, with special reference to (i) the centrality of the boundary concept, (ii) the problem of vagueness, and (iii) the metaphysical question (if such there be) of the identity and persistence conditions of geographic entities.
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  • Inconsistent Boundaries.Zach Weber & A. J. Cotnoir - 2015 - Synthese 192 (5):1267-1294.
    Mereotopology is a theory of connected parts. The existence of boundaries, as parts of everyday objects, is basic to any such theory; but in classical mereotopology, there is a problem: if boundaries exist, then either distinct entities cannot be in contact, or else space is not topologically connected . In this paper we urge that this problem can be met with a paraconsistent mereotopology, and sketch the details of one such approach. The resulting theory focuses attention on the role of (...)
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  • 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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  • Nisza.Achille C. Varzi & Barry Smith - 2000 - Filozofia Nauki 3:5–30.
    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 is illustrated above all by means of simple biological examples, (...)
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  • Clustering Humans: On Biological Boundaries.Ludovica Lorusso & Giovanni Boniolo - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 39 (1):163-170.
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  • The Naive Topology of the Conscious Subject.Rory Madden - 2015 - Noûs 49 (1):55-70.
    What does our naïve conception of a conscious subject demand of the nature of conscious beings? In a series of recent papers David Barnett has argued that a range of powerful intuitions in the philosophy of mind are best explained by the hypothesis that our naïve conception imposes a requirement of mereological simplicity on the nature of conscious beings. It is argued here that there is a much more plausible explanation of the intuitions in question. Our naïve conception of a (...)
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  • Clustering Humans: On Biological Boundaries.Ludovica Lorusso & Giovanni Boniolo - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 39 (1):163-170.
    We inquire into the notions of ‘boundary’ and ‘cluster’ in the fields of medical genetics, pharmacogenetics, and population genetics. First we show that the two notions are not well discussed in literature. Then we propose a promising explication of them, in which we argue that clustering is always ‘property laden’, that is, fundamentally dependent on decisions about the properties to be taken into account. In particular we suggest three different kinds of properties that have a role in these decisions. That (...)
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