Environmental Metaphysics

In Uwe A. Meixner Meixner (ed.), Metaphysics in the Post-Metaphysical Age. Proceedings of the 22nd International Wittgenstein-Symposium. Vienna: Hölder-Pichler-Tempsky. pp. 231-242 (2001)
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We propose the beginnings of a general theory of environments, of the parts or regions of space in which organisms live and move. We draw on two sources: on the one hand on recent work on the ontology of space; and on the other hand on work by ecological scientists on concepts such as territory, habitat, and niche. An environment is in first approximation a volume of space; it is a specific habitat, location, or site that is suitable or adequate for given purposes (of foraging, resting, hunting, breeding, nesting, grooming) in the life of an organism or group of organisms. This spatial notion of environment can be drawn closer to biological and ecological science by taking account of the pertinent physical attributes realized within given spatial regions.

Author Profiles

Barry Smith
University at Buffalo
Achille C. Varzi
Columbia University


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